Staying on course to start the year

So last weekend after rethinking my first book of the year, this past week I pretty much have been doing what I planned to be doing with my reading.

I’ve been reading a chapter a day from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations each day this week so far in the mornings before I go to work and plan to continue that through to next Saturday, with 12 chapters altogether. Then in the evenings after work, with the exception of last night, I’ve been reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, which will be my first book read this year when I am finished. I had planned to finish by last night, but I now am thinking it will be by the end of the weekend.

I still am looking ahead to my own Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Readathon next weekend as I have next Monday off from work. However, instead of starting a reread of Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 that I read more than 20 years ago, I am going to start reading Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65. Then once I finish that, I can go on to the final part of the trilogy, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68 in hopes of of finishing the series by the end of the year.

I also picked up at the library two books of collected speeches of King that I want to dip into over next weekend.

Lest you think it’s all too serious, on Thursday night, Kim and I watched Stranger Than Fiction, a not-so-typical Will Ferrell movie about an IRS tax agent who discovers he is a character in a book that is being written. I can’t believe that we took so long to get to it.

Last night, we also watched Wild Rose about a fictional Scottish singer wanting to go to Nashville that also was very good. But the one I recommend for you all in keeping with the literary theme of The Sunday Salon, of which this post is a part, is Stranger Than Fiction.

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?

#fakereadathon for the second weekend in a row but getting real this time

In one way, this past week went as expected: busy. In another, it didn’t: not with things we wanted to do or things we didn’t want to deal with, namely doctor appointments, one for my wife and another for me. We also didn’t get away as we had planned for a one-day wine trip on Thursday, but we did get accomplished on Thursday at home, with some much needed housekeeping. In light of the busyness again this past week, this weekend Sunday, I’m planning on doing another weekend a Sunday readathon, or a #fakereadathon as one of my book blogger friends called it on Instagram, like I did last weekend.

This time though I’m getting real with my reading. I’m not feeling the series I started, Bruno, Chief of Police, or the book I had on hold from the library, Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. I’m only three books into the Bruno series, but I’m already beginning to wonder why he never seems to be prepared for large protests in his small town and while I read – and really enjoyed – The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ware last weekend, I’m just not feeling like reading another one of her books this weekend.

Plus I’ve been reflecting on this post from Karen of the blog Booker Talk: “Read It Now – Tomorrow May be Too Late”, which she talks about reading “rainy day” books, the ones we keep saving for a better day…but then that day never comes…or might never come if we don’t actually get to reading them. So I have three in particular (listed in order of publication) I’ve been saving for a rainy day:

  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
  • We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

Born to Run: I actually got for my wife, because she is a big Bruce Springsteen fan a few years ago from a book blogger gift exchange, but I still wanted to read, but then never did – I think in great part due to the size of the book. For the record, my wife still hasn’t read it either. We Were Eight Years in Power was another I received from a book blogger gift exchange and to be honest, I just was – and still am – burnt out from the 2016 election, but I really liked (not enjoyed necessarily, because it wasn’t – and still isn’t – easy) Between The World and Me also by Coates. Becoming: I had on hold for a long time on ebook at the Free Library of Philadelphia, then finally bought a copy when it came in as a donation for our library book sale, thinking I wouldn’t have to wait for months to read it. Now months later, Mrs. Obama’s book sits, along with Mr. Springsteen’s and Mrs. Coates’ books, atop my computer desk unread.

I’m going to begin with Born to Run tomorrow and might take a break by reading a little of Coates’ book in between. Then next weekend, since I have a three-day weekend, I will read more from one, two or all three of the books. Most likely I’ll still be reading Bruce’s autobiography and Coates’ essays, but we’ll see.


  • Neither my wife nor I is in the best shape, health-wise; she, after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation two years ago this month and I, after somehow twisting my left knee in late March. We both are on the road to recovery. But it’s a slow journey, due to a combination of factors including doctors, insurance companies, physical therapists and quite frankly our not understanding the “process” since we really haven’t been “through it” before. That doesn’t mean, though, that we won’t stop attempting to better ourselves.
  • I planned on reading today (Saturday, as I write this), but I distracted myself all morning with trying (unsuccessfully) to get tree sap off the hood of our car. And now at almost 3:30 p.m. as I get ready to hit “publish,” I don’t really believe that reading is going to happen. Oh, well, there’s always tomorrow.

How was your past week? Reading anything good or getting ready to read anything good? Share in the comments.