Rethinking My First Book of The Year 2020

Take a media sabbath this week— put your phone away, leave the television off, and rest your body and soul.

from “Moving Forward” at end of the Forward Day By Day Meditation for January 4, 2020

When I read the above quote this morning, I decided this was more than a good idea, especially in light of reconsidering my first book of the year. On Wednesday, I announced that my first book of the year would be Meditations by Marcus Aurelius as translated by Gregory Hays. But as I started reading it, I realized because of the aphorisms contained within, it is a book to be read in bite-sized portions rather than one meal.

To that end, over the next two weeks, I’m going to read a chapter a day Mondays to Saturdays in the mornings before work and journal on what speaks to me from each chapter. In all, there are 12 chapters in Hays’ translation.

As for the first book of the year that I will finish, I plan on reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. I had started a murder mystery after abandoning the idea of having the Meditations be my first book finished this year. I realized while I like murder mysteries, I didn’t want that to set the tone for the upcoming year. I’d rather begin with hope.

So starting tomorrow and continuing the rest of the week in the evenings after work, I plan on reading and finishing Becoming. I think reading a little each day, I should be able to finish it by Friday. At least, that is the hope.


Beyond that, I am looking ahead to the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend (Jan. 18-20) when I have off Monday as the library is closed. That weekend I am thinking that I will reread, or at least start rereading, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 by Taylor Branch that I read more than 20 years ago.

I hope after that, sometime later in the year, to read the rest of the series by Branch that continued with Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 and concluded with At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68. I’ve always wanted to finish the series and this year, in my 50th year of life, seems as good as any.

After all, my “one word” for this year is “recuperate” or in one definition “to regain a former state or condition.” In my high school and college years, I enjoyed reading tomes of history (among my favorites are The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich by William L. Shirer and Truman by David McCullough). It is high time I return to my former love.

Have you already finished your first book of the year? If so, what was it? If not, what will it be? Do you try to pick a book for your first book of the year that will set the tone for the rest of the year?

38 thoughts on “Rethinking My First Book of The Year 2020

  1. What a fabulous book to begin the year. Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!
    i don’t consciously pick a ‘first book of the year’ but might do that next year.

    1. Ooops. In my next post, following this, I abandoned Becoming – for now, because I just can’t do politics right now. Instead, I went back to my original choice of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius which was good when I read in small chunks and journaled about.

  2. I’m a little late to read this post but Becoming sounds like an excellent read to start the year. I have yet to read it. My first read was Under the Jaguar Sun by Italo Calvino. I didn’t choose it for any particular reason. It was an interesting read, three short stories about different senses.

  3. I did read a couple of mysteries to begin the new year, but I also started a nonfiction (The Idea of the Brain by Matthew Cobb) because I realized that most of my reading for the past couple of years has been mysteries and thrillers. I love them, they are entertaining, they are escape. On the other hand, I love nonfiction even if I am not reading as much as I once did. I may add Becoming to this year’s list as it qualifies as nonfiction and uplifting. We all need some uplifting books these days.

  4. Hi Bryan! I’ve heard great things about Becoming. Hope you enjoy it.

    I had forgotten about MLKjr day. I wondered why the kids had a three day weekend. Maybe I should have them read the Who Was book on him and then take the to McDonald’s as a reward. 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed Becoming. I hope you are enjoying it as well.

    My first book was A Good Neighborhood and it was fabulous and wrecked me in a good, thought-provoking way.
    I am about to start book 4! Can you believe it? I am on fire. Let’s see how long it lasts.

  6. I debating picking up Becoming the other day, but decided that I’m mostly in the mood for fun, light reads at the moment.

    1. Mostly I’ve avoided it because of the political climate we’re in. But since this week I’m taking a media sabbath, I’m not seeing what the world has devolved into since her husband left office.

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