Last year, my school district asked all faculty to set a personal goal for themselves and display their progress in their classroom. The idea was to show students that their teachers are working towards things also and build a system of accountability. My goal was to read 10 new books by the end of the school year. Though I never stop reading, I tend to save new reads for the summer months and revisit old favorites during the school year – books I can read without staying up all night to find out what happened next or investing a ton of emotional and mental energy into. While there are benefits to this, I find that I always have too many books I want to read and not enough time to do it when limiting myself to two months a year. In the spirit of complete bookishness, I’ve decided to continue that challenge for this school year.

For the fall semester, I’ve chosen 5 books that have been sitting on my Kindle or in my Amazon Books to Read list. For breadth, I chose 5 categories and selected 1 book from each: general non-fiction, Christian/lifestyle non-fiction, historical non-fiction, general fiction, and classic literature. This covers most of the book types that I already read, as well as some I would like to branch into.

General Non-Fiction: A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte

Two of my re-reads from year to year are consistently The Hobbit (currently re-reading as a relaxation technique at the start of school) and The Chronicles of Narnia (re-read in May to destress from the year just ended). C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have had a profound impact on my life, along with novelists such as Jane Austen, inspiring my love of England and literature. Having strolled along the grounds of Oxford, dined in The Eagle and Child, and sought out the doors of Moria (Edward’s Church in Stow-in-the-Wold), it’s no surprise that this made it to the top of my To Be Read list as soon as I saw it begin popping up on Instagram. When Tsh included it in her research for her beta-trip to London this summer, I knew I had to have it. It’s on its way to me now and I can’t wait to get started!

Christian/Lifestyle Non-Fiction: Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt

I am such an introvert. I’m currently highlighting my way through Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh, feeling simultaneously understood and challenged. Months ago, when I first downloaded Just Open the Door to my Kindle, my goal was to figure out how to combine my introversion with love for people. I’ve learned a lot about my temperament from being an SLP in the fast-paced school setting, living with an ambivert husband, belonging to a highly community-driven church, and being the mediator in a large family. I’ve learned even more this summer as I work through McHugh’s book. I’m hoping to team up those insights with tips for genuine hospitality and better my ability to love people well.

Historical Non-Fiction: Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley

At to my nerdom that I’m a history buff. A couple of years ago, I started participating in the Anno Domini Bible study from If: Equip and was enthralled. I’ll begin part 3 in the fall, if the pattern continues, but I’ve felt a desire to go even deeper. There’s something fascinating about really knowing the culture and events that created the church as we know it today that helps me better know God, better understand His people, and better recognize my place in Christendom.

General Fiction: The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

A friend of mine calls this series the adult Narnia. I actually began the trilogy this summer, finishing Out of the Silent Planet and starting Perelandra. I don’t know if I’m quite as charmed by it as Narnia – but then, I usually lean more towards fantasy than science fiction. What’s begun must be finished, however, and if nothing else, I loved learning about ramblers and started planning my own walking tour for the next time I venture abroad.

Classic Literature: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

I quite literally know nothing about this book. If I’m being completely honest, I decided that classic literature should make my TBR list because it’s a genre I don’t often visit. I have many, many titles on my Kindle thanks to Amazon’s frequent free and dollar editions and I scrolled through them until I found one that seemed to interest me most. My brother read and enjoyed it over the past year or so and he and I tend to be on the same page most of the time, so I figured I’d give it a go!

What type of challenge can you issue yourself this semester, to stay in touch with your personal needs while doing the hard work to care for others? Or at the very least, what books are on your to be read list?