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. Oh, returning to the types of books you loved to read as a teen is such a good idea! This past year, I lamented getting rid of my Archie comics during my move because I didn’t realize how much I needed that shot of nostalgia. I actually bought a Betty and Veronica digest from the used bookstore because of that over the break.

    I hope you enjoy Becoming! I was unable to gain traction on it last year, but it may have been because of where I was mentally. Happy New Year!


  2. I like the way you reconsidered your approach to Meditations… seems like it will be much more meaningful reading/journaling on one per day. My daughter loved Becoming… her first book of 2019. It’s on my wish list now, but I plan to listen to it. Good luck with your plan to reread Parting the Waters over the MLK weekend. That’s another series that has been on my list for a very long time. Have a good week, Bryan.


  3. Becoming is a great way to begin the year! I really enjoyed Obama’s stories, her life, and how she viewed their time in the White House. Hope you enjoy it, too.


  4. Becoming sounds like a good way to start off the year. I meant to read it last year (it was a Christmas present in 2018), but I didn’t manage to get to it. I like to start my year off with a book of my own (not a review book), and so picked The Song of Achilles. It is proving to be a good choice. I am really enjoying it. It sounds like you have a good reading plan in place for this month and a start to the rest of the year, Bryan. “Recuperate” is similar to the word I got when I took the quiz Ti recommended. I am not really adopting a word for the year, but I did find it quite fitting that mine would be “rest”. Something I need to give myself permission to do more of.

    I hope you have a great week and reading year!


    1. I also meant to read the book last year, but never got to it. It’s been sitting on my shelf for too long…it’s also good to give yourself permission to rest. Hope you can do that in the new year even if it’s not your “official” word.


  5. I think technically my first book will be a reread/re-listen. None of the books I plan to read this year are available to me at the moment, and the one I really want to read won’t come out until late January. So I’m rereading the first two books in the series at the moment to get myself even readier for it. 😀


  6. I read Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid as my first book but I was a little disappointed with it.
    I hope you find Becoming a good read, and I’m glad you have found a direction for your reading in 2020.

    Wishing you a great reading week


  7. Many people have read and loved Becoming. I’ve heard over and over that this book is inspiring. I have heard that Michelle Obama is a woman of character. I feel the need to hear some stories this year that are inspiring, to read some stories about people of character.

    And, of course, Martin Luther King Jr. was not only inspiring and a man of character but a person who faced death for what he knew was right for people. I haven’t read any of the Taylor Branch books but they sound like the sort of books we all might be reading.

    Some books lend themselves to once-a-day reading, I think. I got a book of poetry on the mood-boosting list before Christmas and I thought it might make a good first book of the year. But I found I couldn’t read too much of it at one time or it all ran together in my mind. Maybe Meditations is like that.

    I brought home a big stack of books from the library in December. It’s given me a lot of choices, and I like that. I’m trying to read books that aren’t as bleak as some of the books I read last year.

    Have a great week!


    1. I highly recommend Parting The Waters. Personally even though I thought I knew a lot about that time period, I really didn’t. It was very eye-opening. …and your book of poetry sounds exactly like how Meditations to me.


  8. Becoming is very good. You’ll enjoy it.

    I don’t get MLK Day off. It’s an in-service day for us. So the library is closed, but we have training on different stuff all day. It’s fun, though.


    1. We don’t usually get MLK Day off, but with only so many days that our director is given for vacation days for us, this year this is one of them. I think one year we had Presidents’ Day and another Easter Monday. I think she just tries to mix it up a little and it’s nice to have a day off in the winter because we won’t have anything else until Memorial Day.

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