Every January, Goodreads asks me to set up my Reading Challenge for the upcoming year. And every year I worry that I am going to disappoint myself if I don’t meet that goal. (Spoiler alert: I did, in fact, not meet my goal last year.) So instead, this year I have decided that rather than set a large reading goal for the whole year, I am going to set small reading goals each day. Below are the five books that are going to live on my bedside table and get a few minutes of my time each day.
My number one priority is my faith, so this is the first book on the list. I have had this book for several years now and it is one of my favorite devotionals. It is a daily devotional with each entry being one short but powerful page that offers a truth statement at the top, a message in the middle, and further references of Scripture to read at the end. While it is a daily devotional, each day does not require that you have read the previous entry. Therefore, when life distracts you, you can pick up on the current day without feeling behind. In fact, when times like this have happened to me, the entry I return to often ends up being exactly what I needed to hear that day. And if you are anything like me, you might have a severe case of marginalia and need more space to jot down notes than what traditional margins provide, so you might consider the Note-Taking Edition of the book.
I have always loved journaling and wanted to make it a priority to journal every day, but journaling is time-consuming and can sometimes feel like a big commitment. You buy a big blank notebook and a set of your favorite pens, and then the pages can feel a bit overwhelming and the pens get lost in a drawer. Oftentimes I would only journal during the high or lows of life, so going back and reading some of my old journals feels like a bit of an emotional rollercoaster instead of an accurate depiction of my normal, day-to-day life. By answering a few simple questions at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, I can set my intentions for what’s ahead and then reflect on it in just a few minutes without any overwhelming sense of pressure to fill up a page or write something extremely thought-provoking.
As an educator and writer, I love the idea of learning. Throughout most of my career I have either been writing essays or grading essays, but I hardly ever find myself just simply reading essays for the sake of enjoyment. So this book of essays is meant to allow me the freedom to think and ponder without getting lost in the details of the semantics. With this book, I can take off my teacher hat and be a student. I can put down my writer’s pen and be a consumer instead of a creator for a few minutes each day. Reading something that will challenge the way you think each day feels important and beneficial to the intellectual part of my day.
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
In a world that is constantly growing and developing and advancing at what feels like the speed of light, sometimes it is good to slow down and look back. This book has daily insights and wisdom from ancient classics. Each day provides a new lesson, just as each day of our own lives is likely to present us a new challenge or obstacle. Balancing our daily challenges with daily encouragement is vital to prevent the scales from tipping against our favor. This book even has an accompanying journal called The Daily Stoic Journal: 366 Days of Writing and Reflection on the Art of Living that might make a good addition to your bedside table if you want to spend more time applying ancient philosophies to our modern lives.
Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People: Living the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Every Day by Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has found its way onto high school reading lists and corner office business desks alike over the past 30 years that it has been in print. Stephen R. Covey gives seven seemingly simple habits and encourages people to apply them to their lives, and with over 40 million copies sold, I have to believe that there is a wealth of truth and knowledge to be gleaned from it. That is why it excites me for these lessons to now come in the form of daily reflections. After all, habits themselves are formed in more of the smaller actions that take place each day rather than the “knock-it-out-in-one-sitting” approach. If a student reads the original book as a summer reading assignment or a CEO picks up a copy at a business conference, the tendency to simply move on with life after reading the book is tempting. However, with these daily reflections, repetitive reminders can now hopefully lead to practical application. And if you are looking to take things even one step further, there is also a personal workbook as well.
So whether you are looking for something spiritual, intellectual, emotional, relational, personal, or habitual, I feel pretty confident that this list will check off most of those boxes. The books are all listed and linked below, plus a few more honorable mentions.
The Full Reading List
- New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
- New Morning Mercies (Note-Taking Edition)
- The Five Minute Journal
- 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
- The Daily Stoic Journal: 366 Days of Writing and Reflection on the Art of Living
- Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People: Living the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Every Day by Stephen R. Covey
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Personal Workbook
Hannah Pressley is a part-time teacher, part-time freelancer, and full-time lover of words. Hannah has been helping clients find and articulate their voice since 2014. So far, writing and editing has allowed her to get her name on the copyright page of several works, but her dream is to see her name on the front cover one day. When she isn’t behind a keyboard, she loves cooking with her husband, reading to her baby, and throwing the ball for her pup. Connect with Hannah or find more of her work at hannahpressley.com.