year of reading slowly yearlong reading list



I’ve been on a speed addiction for far too long. Thankfully, not the drug but the pace of life. Like most of us, I’ve gotten caught up in the do-it-faster-hack-your-life mode. And it’s necessary. Most times. My to-do list gets longer by the week, as the days get shorter by the year (Eeek! I sound so much like my mom). But what about the art of going slowly?

Is there space in life to sit and enjoy and stew and ponder and reflect and move through experiences slowly, letting them sink in and stain life, rather than wash away in a blur? Can I make room for this?

It sounds so idealistic, and I’m afraid I can’t do everything slowly, not if I want to maintain my chosen work-life style. But what I can do is adjust one aspect of my life. Just one. And slow things down. This year, I’m going to read books at a slower pace.

I’m a ravenous reader, chewing through books like skittles, often wondering if my pace of 2-3 books per week is admirable or ridiculous or just nerdy (none of which I mind, by the way). This is how I feed my habit: I have kindle unlimited, I go to the library at least once a month, I stalk used bookstores (London is great for them), and I have an assigned UPS delivery driver for my frequent Amazon orders (okay, this last one is wishful thinking).  I admit. I may be obsessed with books.

I’d like to think it’s a healthy obsession but I do feel I fly through each of them and I’m wondering if I am missing content. I take brief notes while I read most, but I still feel a pressure to get through each one as fast as possible. Enter my next life experiment. 

my (not so) grand experiment

While many are trying to complete 52-book-a-year challenges, I’ve decided to go the opposite direction and slow it down. I could be like an ordinary person and wait to start this in January. Ordinary is something I’ve never been. So, from now (end of March 2017) for the next 12 months, I’ll be reading one book a month. Slowly. If I’m finishing it too soon, I’ll re-read sections that I’ve marked as notable. I’m thinking this will allow me to reflect deeper on the story/message of the book.

Any other books I stumble upon have to go on my books-to-read list and wait their turn. Resisting the temptation to start reading more books will be painstaking, I think. Or perhaps I’ll be so immersed in the one book I am reading that I won’t have the desire for others. Who knows? I like experimenting and changing things up in my life. So, here goes.

As you’ll notice from my list below, my taste in books is pretty eclectic. I’ve always been intrigued by different genres. I like to think this variety helps keep my inspiration bubbling and my voice interesting. (That’s probably just my excuse for feeding my reading addiction habit.) 

Here’s my list, in no particular order, for the next 12 months. Some are re-reads (they are that good). Others have been sitting on my books-to-read list for far too long:

I haven’t read this one. Recently recommended by a friend who is a fellow creative.

Amazon Description: 

“What is your art really about? Where is it going? What stands in the way of getting it there? These are questions that matter, questions that recur at each stage of artistic development – and they are the source for this volume of wonderfully incisive commentary.”










book kindred octavia butler year of reading slowlyI’m not sure how many times I’ve read this. I’ve been a huge sci-fi fan since I was about 11 or so, and Butler is one of my absolute favorites.


“A modern black woman is transported to 19th century Maryland, where she faces the cruel realities of slavery. Kindred, Octavia E. Butler’s masterpiece, is an essential read and ‘a shattering work of art’ (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner).”








book all strangers are kinAmazon description: 

“Join O’Neill for a grand tour through the Middle East. You will laugh with her in Egypt, delight in the stories she passes on from the United Arab Emirates, and find yourself transformed by her experiences in Lebanon and Morocco. She’s packed her dictionaries, her unsinkable sense of humor, and her talent for making fast friends of strangers.”








letters to a young poet rilkeThis is another one that’s been on my list for too long. Rilke was a brilliant poet, and this book has been recommended to me umpteen times.  This year’s the year.

Amazon description:

“ amazing archive of remarkable insights into the ideas behind Rilke’s greatest poetry. The ten letters reproduced here were written during an important stage in Rilke’s artistic development, and they contain many of the themes that later appeared in his best works.”







joy of less book on reading list


Another re-read here. I’ve lived a minimalist style life (except for stationery goods, that is. :)) for about six years. But I find every once in a while I need a reminder of why I choose this lifestyle and a nudge to clear out + declutter….again. Somehow things gather, even though I try to be conscientious about what I consume and collect, it still happens on occasion. I was a digital nomad for a few years. During that time I had no choice but to be minimal. But now I’m semi-settled again, I find I’m collecting. Definitely time for a re-read.

Amazon description:

“The Joy of Less is a fun, lighthearted guide to minimalist living. Part One provides an inspirational pep talk on the joys and rewards of paring down. Part Two presents the STREAMLINE method: ten easy steps to rid your house of clutter. Part Three goes room by room, outlining specific ways to tackle each one. Part Four helps you get your family on board, and live more lightly and gracefully on the earth.”

white teeth reading book list


I attempted to read this book once but lost interest. I’ve since seen Smith on a few interviews and read more about her and I’m intrigued. I’m also in a different emotional space now, so perhaps it will sit differently. That can happen sometimes with books. Some books take a little longer to get into. This may be one of them. It’s worth a try.

Amazon description:

“Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons and deciding on everyone from Charles Dickens to Salman Rushdie to John Irving and Martin Amis. But the truth is that Zadie Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own.”







thinking fast and slow books to read 2017I just picked this one up from the library a few days ago, so I suppose it will be first up. I haven’t read it before and what intrigues me is the concept of questioning our beliefs and assumptions. 

Snippet from Amazon: 

“The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”





writing life books to read 2017A friend of mine has raved about this book for long. It’s not a how-to book. It seems to be about the intricacies of showing up to write daily, the challenges, and the bittersweet rewards of the craft. 

From the book:

“Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”









war of art book to read 2017 listThis is a re-read, a little fuel for my creative fire. I remembering flying through this book. I’ll be glad to take it a little slower and see if there’s anything I missed. I’m guessing there’s plenty.

From Amazon:

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.









colony of unrequited dreams book reading list 2017I’m not sure how or where I stumbled upon this one, but it’s coming off my to-read list this year. 

From Amazon:

A mystery and a love story spanning five decades, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is an epic portrait of passion and ambition, set against the beautiful, brutal landscape of Newfoundland.








between the world and me book reading list 2017This is another that I haven’t read.It’s a subject (race in America) that many people do not like to talk about. And if it is openly discussed, it escalates quickly, with neither parties understanding each other. The point of this book is to shine a light on how it feels to be a young black man in America. It’s easy to look from the outside and guess or dismiss, but only those who live that life, feel the pain. This is a timely book that I cannot wait to dig into. Although having two brothers who’ve lived most of their lives in America and witnessing the pain first-hand, it can still be a difficult topic to explore; it is necessary and in some ways healing.

From Amazon:  

“In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society.”

being alive book reading list 2017I’ve read this book countless times. I dip into it almost daily. I even share some of the poems during one of the poetry themed workshops that I run. It’s full of beautiful, moving poetry. The fact that I won’t be reading any other books simultaneously might make a difference in my interpretation and processing of some of the poems. We’ll see. 

From Amazon

Being Alive is the sequel to Neil Astley’s Staying Alive, which became Britain’s most popular poetry book because it gave readers hundreds of thoughtful and passionate poems about living in the modern world. Now he has assembled this equally lively companion anthology for all those readers who’ve wanted more poems that touch the heart, stir the mind and fire the spirit. Being Alive is about being human: about love and loss, fear and longing, hurt and wonder.



join me

I’d love it if you would join in with me in this year of reading slowly. Pick one of (or all of) the books above or share your list below.



Write the page on fire

You have a unique voice that sets you apart from the masses. Build the courage to set it free.

A couple of times a month, I send out an email with a personal story and a lesson on courageous writing. 

You should sign up (of course, I'm only slightly biased). 

The following two tabs change content below.


I'm a writer and storyteller currently living in London and juggling multiple creative projects. I’d like to say that it's always easy, but the truth is there are times when things get messy. Still, it's the life I've chosen, and I love it. My intention is to keep my projects spinning and stay true to my voice.

Latest posts by alicia-joy (see all)