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January is a month for new beginnings and fresh opportunities. I know every year in January I take time to take stock of where I am in life as well as where I want to be. Our family sits down in the weeks leading up to January to evaluate plans, budgets, goals, dreams, etc. We like to look back over the days, weeks, and months we just experienced and see what worked, what didn’t work, what was accomplished, and what was left undone. Those conversations have yielded some of the best growth in my life and I’ve been grateful for them.

Over the last several years, since 2012 actually, I’ve had some freedom as it relates to my reading schedule. Up until that time I was a student with fairly a fairly strict reading schedule. The reading never seemed to bother me. Honestly, I enjoyed it! My maternal grandparents challenged me as a young child to pursue education with joy and diligence. They helped me see education was important, but foundational to that they opened my eyes to see the necessity of reading. A love for reading was past down largely through my mother’s family.

Some of my earliest memories are of Mabel Spain reading monograph after monograph. She, my petite, gray-haired great-grandmother, was one of the smartest, most well-rounded, and well-read people I’ve ever met. Her daughter, Sarah, had a voracious appetite for reading as well. I never remember a time when my grandmother didn’t have a fiction book close by. Whether at work, typing dictations for a local urologist, or at home entertaining guests, she always seemed to have an incredibly thick book within arms length. Then there was Aubrey. While his stature wasn’t imposing his love for life (and reading) certainly was. With a gentle spirit and vibrant smile he was able to engage any subject be it politics, news, cultural shifts, taxation, or history. His genre of choice was actually a person – Louis L’amour, the American Storyteller. Shortly after Aubrey’s funeral several small mountains of L’amour’s books were unearthed from closets, attics, drawers, and bins.

I tell you a bit of my reading lineage, not to give evidence that I come from good reading stock, although I do. I share with you in order to remind myself that some of the most vibrant people in my (and your) life haven’t gained that vibrancy and brilliance on their own. They’ve been shaped by others…they’ve been shaped by what they’ve read.

Reading seems to ebb and flow across history. Today’s discussions regarding reading take form around paper or digital, education or pleasure, technique or method, necessity or desire. In a world that has a growing issue of a shortened attention span it’s no wonder reading and comprehension have entered what seems to be a free fall.

As I sat down a few weeks ago during that last week of December I read a short article by an avid reader. As I absorbed what was written I was challenged personally to be shaped and developed afresh and anew in 2016. The first article spurred me to read several others (here, here, and here). Reading, like anything else in life, needs direction, intention, and focus. After several days of thinking it over I decided to jump in to the #vtreadingchallenge. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it or not, but I am sure that I want my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to have memories of me passing down a love for books, reading, knowledge, and the life they help shape.

Reading is better when you’re not doing it alone so I asked a friend to join me in this 2016 journey. He’s an incredibly talented guy who’s a contributor in his home, workplace, and in the world of podcasts. Listening to him talk reminds me of the people I spoke about earlier. He’s bright, talented, sincere, and incredibly gifted. Sure quite a bit of it is from his genetics, but I’m also certain that he’s allowed his mind to be forged on the anvil of good books for years.

I’m not making promises to make updates, share quotes, and give insight into what I’m reading. At this point I just want to call the question for you. What have you read that has shaped you? Are you a product of your own wisdom or have you been shaped, forged, and developed by thinkers, writers, storytellers, and poets? Why not take time today and pick up a book and begin reading?

Here’s where I started in 2016:

- The Bible
- Trusting God by Jerry Bridges

I’d share more but my next book is calling!