Zen and The Art of Reading

I love to read. It’s a fact. It’s always been one of the big joys in my life. Until it wasn’t.

You see, as an entrepreneur I’ve been told to “read daily”. Now as a lover of reading that really should be a good thing, right? It was. Until it wasn’t.

Reading daily was a wonderful habit I got into, even if it was only 20 minutes a day (while Hanna was doing her 20 minutes of reading!). The problem started when my crazy brain began creating rules around the reading. Since it was a “business suggestion” my lovely brain decided, to do it “right”, I could only read “business” books, or “personal development” books ~ which would inevitably help me grow thereby helping to grow my business.

reading challenge

That’s all fine and good until a great novel comes out.

Hmmm. To read or not to read? Does reading for fun count as “daily reading”? What if I can only find 20 little minutes in my day to read… can I waste them on fiction?

Ultimately, as someone who is invested in building a successful business, and has a tendency toward all or nothing thinking, the answer in my mind was no. There will be NO wasting of the 20 reading minutes on something that’s FUN.


Well, the brain knows best. (I guess).

Funny thing, the heart started to feel a little resentful. The heart started finding other things to do during my 20 minutes of reading time… it started leading the body to different things during that time. It started telling the brain it’s not that important to read today… we’ve got lunches to make, homework to review, blog posts to write, shares to finish… maybe later we’ll read. You know before bed, knowing damn well the TV will win that time slot hands down.

Over time, I started reminding Hanna to do her daily reading, and I skipped mine. Then I realized I hadn’t read a book in a month, then two… then I lost track.

I saw book recommendations from friends and cohorts, and thought about running to Amazon to get them, only to hear this little booming voice in the back of my head… “Remember, we’re not really “into” reading at this point in time. We cycle, through reading and not reading phases. Remember? Right now we’re not reading.” I’d hit the back button and continue with whatever I had been doing.

One day, during book club, a book came up in conversation. It sounded so good. I just HAD to read it. Rules be damned. I read that book. It was 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It all came flooding back. I remembered how much I love to read. I started reading again. I started reading what I wanted, when I wanted, and I started feeling better. Funny how depleted my soul gets when I don’t read books! The internet is great and all, but there’s nothing like a book.

I’ve been rereading The Desire Map, waiting for my new workbook to come, and contemplating my current Core Desired Feelings, some new ones I might be adding to the list, and the way I want to feel this year. One of the words that keeps coming up is Moved. I want to feel moved. I want others to feel moved when they read what I write. I want to write stuff that moves people.


And then my dear friend Niamh posted her 50/50 challenge. She’s reading 50 fiction and 50 non fiction books this year. I nearly jumped right in… even though it felt a little overwhelming, and a little off, but I WANT to read more. I sat on it a few days, and today it dawned on me… too many books, and not quite right choice of books for me. I thought about what I wanted to feel, learn, take away from my reading this year, and it comes down to feeling moved, and moving others. I decided to change my challenge a little bit, and here’s what it’s going to look like:

25 Memoir/Biography/Autobiography books.

25 Fiction books.

One of the things I dream to do is write a memoir. I do believe this year will be its year. I also lurve reading memoir. The way people tell their stories. The way they make it through their stories, come out the other side, sometimes a little worse for wear, but still here. I am moved by memoir. I also believe reading more memoir will make me a better memoir writer. 😉

I also LOVE fiction. The way people tell stories. The way sentences can be spun to pull a specific thought and/or emotion from the reader. It’s delightful fun, and it also moves me. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve jumped up for a notecard to write down a sentence that I want handy so I can roll it over and over in my mind and on my tongue, long after the last page has been read. Yes, fiction moves me.

50 books was way too much for me. I don’t want to end up beating myself up for not doing “enough”. I do that just fine in my every day life… I don’t need a challenge meant to move and enjoy to add to lashings. 25. That feels right and good. It’s 2 books a month from each genre, that’s one a week… that feels completely doable, exciting, and fun.

My dear friend had a bunch of rules for her challenge… me, I’m going to skip the rules, and just say, I’ll be sharing the books as I read them, here on the blog. That’s how I’ll keep count. When I finish the first one, magically a 25/25 category will appear in the sidebar and you can follow along. 🙂 It’s what I call Zen and the Art of Reading. 😉

What about you? Would you like to do more reading this year? Would you like a little “challenge” for yourself? Go ahead, create one! 50/50, 25/25, heck go with 15/15 for the year 2015! It doesn’t matter, as long as it feels good. What kind of books would you like to explore this year? I can’t wait to hear! Share in the comments. We’re going to have a blast!


Jackie Lee Zen Wahm

PS. Knowing my “all or nothing” nature I really had to think about what I am going to do when a non fiction book I want to read shows up. It’s been decided… I will read it. 🙂 I’ll just add it as an additional book I’m reading because I love to read. I read for pleasure. And I am choosing to read what moves me.


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3 Responses to Zen and The Art of Reading

  1. Niamh says:

    I LOVE it!
    I think it’s all part of mindfulness to also stay in touch with who you are and what’s right for you 🙂
    I’m a super challenge driven person…. but only if it’s fun and only if it feels on the edge of impossible. High chance I wont be able to read that amount, but for me that makes it more fun.
    Yours sounds AWESOME, and I love that you left out non-fiction because it means it can be all about what you love. At first I was only going to do non-fiction then I realized I would feel guilty for reading fiction!
    Can’t wait to follow along… hopefully we’ll cross over a bit! 🙂

  2. Your post definitely moved me. Your honestly is refreshing. I often feel intimidated by the challenges that are layed out by our friends. Doing better, even a little better, is better than not doing anything at all. Beating myself up because I fall short in a challenge is not the goal I am seeking. You have moved me to set my own goals and strive to reach them without any recriminations. Thanks for your post. Keep up the good work.

    • Jackie Lee says:

      YAY!!! I love it! Can’t wait to see what you come up with… keep in touch, let me know how it’s going. 🙂

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