One of my biggest challenges is that I have a lot of great texts to read, and too little time to do it. There seems to be so much great writing out there that sometimes it can be hard to prioritize what to read and what to pass on. In fact, I often feel like I’m guessing the right text to peruse; sometimes I hit the mark, and sometimes it is clear that as great as the book might be, a different choice would have suited me better.
I’ve taken a number of steps to stay “up-to-date” on good books. I subscribe to a great service called The Main Idea, which provides monthly summaries of educational and leadership-oriented texts. I’ve used these to help me decide whether I want to go deeper into a book or if the summary alone will suffice.
I also utilize a number of different social media tools, primarily Twitter and Voxer to identify texts I want to read deeply, and those that others might have read where a simple overview is enough.
A colleague of mine last week introduced me to a really interesting practice for keeping current with books. She puts together “book buddy” groups with a number of members of her staff who are interested in a given book. She provides copies of the text to four of her staff members, for instance, and then invites them to a chat with her about the book, key ideas, how the content of the text relates to their work in their school and district, etc. In this way, even if she doesn’t read the book, she is able to engage in deep conversation with her staff about the text, and can walk away with a better understanding of what it is about, and just as importantly, how her staff may or may not be impacted by the ideas within the text.
There are many great books out there, and many different ways we can learn from them. As summer approaches, I hope to have the time to finish a number of books I’ve started, and start a number that I’ve wanted to dive into. With time as the ultimate decider of my page-turning ability, I hope to begin the fall more versed in ideas and practices that I would have never considered!