I’ve got several 2018 goals in play, and the one I’m most excited about is the intention to read more often. The specific goal is to complete 40 pages each week - whether that happens in 5 sittings or 1 is no matter.
Reading is a healthy goal, right? It’s a way to learn new things, and can be a relaxing diversion, all while providing fun facts for your next dinner party. And while any one of these things is a strong motivation to keep the pages turning, I’ve realized there’s a reason far greater - reading has the power to change your life. There are a few books that have served as serious catalysts throughout my life. They include:
Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
Looking at that sensationalist title today, I can’t believe I ever picked up the book, much less paid for it, but a co-worker on a health kick gave a passionate recommendation, and I succumbed. Those Skinny Bitch writers pack a punch, because by chapter 4, I was seriously considering vegetarianism for the first time in my life, and by chapter 9, I’d stopped eating meat entirely. Thus ensued 1 year of strict vegetarianism followed by 7 years of full veganism, all of which resulted in a me that was fit, healthy, engaged in a greater cause, motivated to cook creatively, and inspired to learn more about nutrition and wellness, constantly. I made new friends, ate new foods, and felt consistently healthy for the first time in my adult life (I hadn’t been an adult for very long, but that made the revolution all the more significant).
Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
I’d taken a course at work called Crucial Conversations, which provided me with helpful tools to use as a manager. It included the kinds of situational cues and questions that help a work team arrive at beneficial conclusions and produce positive outcomes. I don’t remember what prompted me to pick up the next volume in Susan Scott’s series, but by some stroke of fate or fortune, Fierce Conversations ended up on my desk, then quickly moved to my nightstand. This book, as promised, provides guidance and motivation to tackle the most challenging conversations in life, period. Without getting specific or situational, its step-by-step instructions walk the reader through interrogating her unsettled feelings, putting words to the (often yet unrecognized) desired outcome, then getting it out in the open, with the goal of seeking resolution, even and especially when the stakes are high. When I started reading this book I assumed it would further my expertise as a manager and leader. By page 149, I’d ended a years-long relationship that was no longer serving me. Mic drop. This book changed the course of my life.
Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning by Hal Koerner with Adam W. Chase
I learned about ultra running after my first marathon, at which I reached the finish line and wanted to keep running. It didn’t take me long to find Hal’s definitive guidebook, which is incredibly comprehensive, realistic and actionable. It explains every little detail of ultrarunning, including differences in distance, terrain, weather, altitude, gear, nutrition, pacing, camping, and more. When the chapters about chafing, hypothermia and kidney failure only strengthened my resolve, I knew I was meant to run a distance beyond 26.2. Using Hal’s training plan, I finished my first ultramarathon in first place at age 31, truly a defining moment in my life. I mean…there could be no better endorsement for a book about running, right?
So, when I contemplate the 2018 reading goal I’ve set for myself, I know it’s about more than conversation at the water cooler or fulfilling a quota. It’s about being open to the information, inspiration, and guidance that might just reveal a path I’ve not yet considered, and nudge me to do something amazing.