Recent Reads: Jan/Feb 2016

In honor of #ShelfieWednesday, I’ve taken a¬†“shelfie” of my recent reads, numbers 4 through 8 for the¬†#SixtyBooks in 2016 Reading Challenge:


4. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard

5. Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

6. The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rhode

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth

8. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz IMG_8044.JPG

I’m sure you noticed a lack of theme or consistent genre here, that¬†each of these books is completely different from the next. Yes, they are very different from one another…and I enjoyed¬†each one!

That’s one of the things I love most about reading #SixtyBooks and making reading a regular part of my daily routine: ¬†the variety of topics and different perspectives I get to experience.

What have you been reading?


#SixtyBooks in 2016: End of January Check-In!


Time flies when you’re reading having fun! Our first month of reading together is almost up.¬†Laura and I are thrilled to be in such great company reading¬†#SixtyBooks in 2016!

As we near the end of the first month of this challenge, almost 300 people completed the online form, nearly 50 people have joined the Goodreads group, about 40 people have joined the Facebook group, and well over 100 readers are regularly posting updates about their reads on Twitter. We know there are also hundreds (maybe thousands?) of students taking the challenge in schools all over the country.

The #SixtyBooks movement is not only about our own personal reading but also about taking time to inspire others to read as well.

So, thank you to everyone who is participating in the challenge, spreading the word about #SixtyBooks, and encouraging others to make reading a part of their daily routine!

Laura and I are always talking about new books we are looking forward to¬†reading, so¬†she had the great idea to share some of those books that we “can’t wait to read” with you.

Here are a couple of our “can‚Äôt wait to read”¬†titles at the top of our TBR¬†lists:

Melissa’s Books:

Laura’s Books:

Leave a comment below or join in the discussions on social media to let us all know what books you are looking forward reading to this year.

Happy reading! 

Your #SixtyBooks in 2016 hosts,
Melissa (@mmorriswrite) & Laura (@lagnella)

#SixtyBooks in 2016 Reading Challenge

Right now, I am just one book away from completing my 2015 reading goal of sixty books. I have to say, making the commitment to read sixty books in a year was one of the best decisions I ever made.

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I’ve learned a lot in the last twelve months because of this focus on reading, and I’ve been able to apply so¬†much of what I’ve read, both in fiction and nonfiction, directly to my life.

Since I started this goal, I’ve met and talked¬†with many¬†people who are interested in doing the same. Some of these people already read about sixty books a year (or more!) and some of them simply want to make reading more of a priority. These conversations, whether about specific books or¬†about reading in general, are always so inspiring to me.

A friend and fellow educator, Laura Agnella (who keeps an awesome blog called The Book Junkie!),¬†and I talk about reading all the time. ¬†Even though we don’t read a lot of the same books, we both read all the time and love to talk about and write about what we read.

Because of this shared love for books and reading, Laura and I have teamed up to host the #SixtyBooks in 2016 Reading Challenge!


  1. Fill out the #SixtyBooks in 2016 form.
  2. Keep track of the books you read. (Laura and I both use Goodreads to log our books, but you can use a notebook, a spreadsheet, or any other method you like.)
  3. Stay connected. Talk about your books, talk about the challenge, and encourage others to read with you.

Reading is much more social than we tend to think it is, so staying connected is probably the most important part of the challenge. Lucky for us, there are so many ways to connect these days!

You can…
Join our Goodreads group

Subscribe to¬†these sites…
The #SixtyBook website:
This blog:
Laura’s blog:¬†

Follow us on Twitter…

…and use the¬†#SixtyBooks hashtag to share out your reading progress, favorite books, and to encourage other readers.

Remember, #SixtyBooks is about making reading a regular part of our daily lives and encouraging other people to do the same.¬†It’s not a competition (the only person you are ever competing with is yourself!) and it’s not just about the number; it’s about incorporating reading as a fundamental and non-negotiable part of our routine.

And, most importantly, it’s fun. ūüôā

Happy reading!


Choosing Sixty Books

The books we choose to read, and the reasons we select them, are as individual as we each are. That’s part of what makes Sixty Books so exciting. Sixty Books isn’t about a certain set of books; it’s about making any book you want to read a regular part of your routine.

Sometimes we choose to read books that are of a common genre, style, or theme and other times we choose books for their variety. We may choose to read books because they support our ideas or we choose books that will challenge quote-generator-poster-so-many-books-so-little-timeour ideas. We can opt to read books that are bestsellers and popular or we may choose books for their obscurity.

Every book you choose to read shapes your personal Sixty Books and, in turn, shapes you.

If you are ever stuck on choosing a new book to read, try choosing a book from any of these suggested categories:

  1. Read a book you always wanted to read as a child but never did.
  2. Re-read a book you read and loved as a child.
  3. Re-read a book you hated in high school or college.
  4. Re-read a book you read last year.
  5. Read a book to a child.
  6. Read a book with an elderly person.
  7. Read the book at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
  8. Read the book at the bottom of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
  9. Read the book at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list the day you were born.
  10. Read the book your boss is currently reading.
  11. Read the book your best friend is currently reading.
  12. Read a book your librarian recommends.
  13. Read a book that Goodreads suggests for you.
  14. Read a book from your local high school’s required summer reading list.
  15. Read a self-published book.
  16. Read a cookbook.
  17. Read a book of poetry.
  18. Read a collection of short stories.
  19. Read a book of plays.
  20. Read a book about history.
  21. Read a book on business.
  22. Read a book on finance.
  23. Read a book about psychology.
  24. Read a book about religion.
  25. Read a book on race relations.
  26. Read a book on art.
  27. Read a how-to book.
  28. Read a book about health or nutrition.
  29. Read a professional development or self-help book.
  30. Read a biography.
  31. Read an autobiography or memoir.
  32. Read some realistic fiction.
  33. Read fantasy.
  34. Read science fiction.
  35. Read a romance novel.
  36. Read historical fiction.
  37. Read a murder mystery.
  38. Read a classic.
  39. Read another classic.
  40. Read some Shakespeare.
  41. Read a banned book.
  42. Read an award winning book.
  43. Read a seasonal or holiday book.
  44. Read a book by an author of a different gender than your own.
  45. Read a book by an author of a different ethnicity than your own.
  46. Read a book by an author of a different faith than your own.
  47. Read a book by an author of a different generation than your own.
  48. Read a book by an author of a different sexual orientation than your own.
  49. Read a book by an author of a different nationality than your own.
  50. Read a book by an author of a different political party than your own.
  51. Read a¬†second (or third or fourth)¬†book by an author you’ve read before.
  52. Read a book translated from another language.
  53. Read a book with illustrations or photographs.
  54. Read a book with interesting cover art.
  55. Read a book with more than 400 pages.
  56. Read a book with less than 100 pages.
  57. Read a book that became a motion picture.
  58. Read a book that was given to you as a gift.
  59. Read an ebook if you only read print or a print book if you only read ebooks.
  60. Listen to an audio book.

Are there other ways you choose your Sixty Books? Let us know in the comment section below or on Twitter using the hashtag #SixtyBooks.


When to read #SixtyBooks

Talking about the¬†#SixtyBooks reading movement, I’ve heard¬†from¬†people who say they would love to read more if they had more time or that they simply don’t know when they could possibly¬†find the time to read sixty books in a year. If those thoughts about finding time to read have crossed your mind, then this post is definitely for you!

I think it’s important to explain that reading sixty books¬†doesn’t have to be your initial reading goal (you don’t even have count the books you read, if you don’t want to!), but¬†when you read every day, making¬†it a part of your regular routine, you will find that #SixtyBooks is the amazing¬†product of your efforts. If it doesn’t happen the first year, or even the second…it will happen eventually.

Keeping all of that in mind,¬†that #SixtyBooks¬†isn’t really about the number and it’s more about making reading a regular part of our routine, let’s take a look at our day and see when we can find even just a few minutes¬†here and there to¬†read.

Again, so much of this is inspired by the¬†motivating¬†words of Stephen King and his notion to “teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows.” Reading is special, but it doesn’t have to be a special event. There are many moments during our day when we can sneak in a few pages.

How about…

  1. First thing in the morning when we wake up.
  2. Before or after morning meditation.
  3. While we eat our breakfast or drink a cup of coffee.
  4. Listening to an audiobook while putting on makeup or shaving.
  5. While commuting to work on the train or bus.
  6. While carpooling (not the driver, of course, but any other passenger can read silently or read aloud).
  7. Listening to an audiobook in the car.
  8. The first fifteen minutes when we get to work and prepare to start our day.
  9. Right before lunch.
  10. At lunch time.
  11. After lunch.
  12. When waiting for a meeting or class to begin.
  13. When we’re waiting on line at the airport.
  14. When we’re on the airplane.
  15. On the subway.
  16. In a taxi.
  17. Waiting at a doctor’s appointment.quote-generator-poster-i-take-a-book-with-me-everywhere-i-go-and-find-there-are-all-sorts-of-opportu
  18. Waiting at the dentist.
  19. Waiting on line at the post office.
  20. Waiting on line at the DMV.
  21. At the nail salon.
  22. At the barber shop.
  23. Waiting for our car at the mechanic.
  24. While walking on a treadmill.
  25. While riding a stationary bike.
  26. Listening to an audiobook at the gym.
  27. Waiting at the house for the repair person to come fix the cable. 
  28. When we’re in the parking lot, waiting to pick up our kids, siblings, spouses, etc.
  29. Assigned reading at work or school?
  30. As soon as we come
    home from work or school.
  31. With an afternoon snack or cup of tea.
  32. Before dinner.
  33. While dinner’s cooking.
  34. Right after dinner.
  35. When our children are doing their homework.
  36. With our children after they finish their homework.
  37. Reading to/with our children before they go to bed.
  38. A weekly family trip to the library.
  39. On vacation.
  40. Road trips!
  41. Lounging by the pool.
  42. On the beach.
  43. In the backyard when it’s sunny and a cool breeze is blowing.
  44. When it’s raining or thunder-storming (my favorite!).
  45. In front of a cozy fire when it’s snowy out.
  46. Keeping a book in the bathroom.
  47. Bringing a book into the bathtub.
  48. At the laundromat.
  49. Listening to an audiobook while folding laundry.
  50. Listening to an audiobook while cutting the grass.
  51. Listening to an audiobook while doing housework.
  52. With our bookclubs instead of having to read ahead of time. 
  53. Read aloud a section of a special book with family on holidays.
  54. During commercials when watching TV.
  55. Instead of 15 minutes of TV.
  56. Instead of 15 minutes of a video game.
  57. Instead of 15 minutes on social media.
  58. Instead of 15 minutes of surfing the Internet.
  59. Right before going to sleep.
  60. If we¬†wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep.

What do you think will work best for you? When else do you like to read? Leave your comments below!

If you are inspired to take the #SixtyBooks in 2016 Reading Challenge, you can start here with this form. Whether or not the number of books is important to you, you can be a part of this reading movement and connect with some amazing people who are making reading a part of their regular routine on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

I’ll keep¬†posting more about #SixtyBooks here and don’t forget to stop over and see what Laura is posting as well.

Happy reading!


(post updated on 12/27/15)

Sixty Books Is Not A Number

Sixty Books a journey, not a destination; it’s a¬†mindset, not a competition.

Each person may actually have a different number of books that he or she reads in a year, and the number can vary from year to year. Thirty books can be “sixty books” and so can forty-five, or seventy, or one hundred and fifteen. It’s not about the number.

#SixtyBooks is an idea that incorporates reading as a fundamental and non-negotiable part of our routine and encourages lifelong learning.

If someone sets a goal to read a book each week, they are already at fifty-two books. sixtySixty is a nice way to round it up.

It’s also an attainable and realistic goal for most of us. Maybe not at first, especially when one isn’t accustomed to reading regularly, but it can be achieved through practice.

Even the busiest individuals have time to read about twenty pages a day. At that pace, considering books at about three hundred pages, a person would finish reading a book in about two weeks. By doubling the effort and making time to read forty pages a day, a person can finish the book in just one week.

Anything more might be too much. Not that it isn’t possible to read more, and to enjoy reading more books,¬†but is it really possible to reflect on it all when we read that much? Sixty Books is not just about reading for enjoyment, it’s about enjoying reading for growth.

And, sometimes thinking in terms of numbers simply helps us better understand abstract thought. The term Sixty Books helps establish a common vocabulary with which we can discuss and explore the idea further.

Whether fiction or nonfiction, contemporary works or classics, we learn something from everything we read.

We learn facts.

We learn about the world.

We learn compassion.

We learn about ourselves.

We find examples and non-examples.

We are inspired.

Sixty Books, therefore, is about absorbing ideas and lessons from each of the books we read and applying them into our own lives. Sixty Books is about growing as an individual and evolving, innovating, updating on a regular basis. Sixty Books is about sharing ideas and learning from one another.

How many books are in your #SixtyBooks? Continue the conversation here in the comments section below or on Twitter.


Sixty Books

Back in October, I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing that had been sitting on my bookshelf for years. I was about to¬†be a passenger while my then-fianc√© drove three hours from New Jersey to Connecticut,¬†and I figured the trip would allot me some solid reading time. I had wanted to read King’s book for a while, but the real reason that I selected it on that particular morning was because the edition was a lightweight paperback — and honestly, I loved the way the grainy texture of the cover felt in my hands. There was no deep or major intellectual decision going on here.

Ah, how some of the most seemingly insignificant decisions we make can have the greatest impact!

Needless to say, the book is really amazing. King’s ability to write memoir and keep readers enthralled is excellent. He weaves his biographical experiences and insights in with advice and pointers for writerB00HxI8CUAA8t_1s.¬†I’m only sorry that it took me so long to take the book off of my shelf and start reading it. If anyone else is delinquent in reading this book, I encourage you to make haste and read it as soon as you can.

One of the most interesting writing tips that King gives is his advice to read — a lot. Okay, he isn’t the first writer to give that advice. We’ve all heard that same advice a million times. Other writers — and every great writing teacher I’ve ever had — all say that we must read a lot in order to write well. The thing that struck me when I read the advice this time, was that King gives a number. He says that he reads about sixty books a year.

Okay, Stephen King, maybe YOU have time to read sixty books a year. What about the rest of us?

(Personally, at the time I read this advice, I was busy working full-time, planning a wedding, and getting caught up in all the other day-to-day things that keep us busy. I didn’t see how I could possibly afford the time to read that many books in one year.)

Seeking validation for my skepticism I checked my Goodreads account, where I have been pretty consistent at logging the books I read for the¬†last few years, and I discovered that I had actually read about forty books the previous year and a similar number the years before. Still not¬†yet convinced that reading an additional twenty books a year¬†was even a plausibility for me, I noted Stephen King’s advice and gently¬†tucked¬†it aside in a corner of my mind for safe keeping.

At the same time I started On Writing, I had also been reading a book called¬†¬†Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the authors of Freakonomics.¬†(I tend to do this, start and read multiple B0tWnWFIgAAxRXAbooks at once. There’s something kind of lonely to me about only having one book “in progress” at a time, but that is fodder for another post!) I had started reading right before I read¬†On Writing, and I finished it just after.

This was one of the most fun books I’ve read in a long time. I would say that I am generally an out-of-the-box thinker, and so I really appreciated the authors’ take on various topics and advice for looking at things and thinking differently. This book is an¬†excellent read¬†for anyone who is interested in finding ways to develop a stronger growth mindset or who feels like they just want a new perspective.

And wouldn’t you know, these authors also go¬†ahead and recommend the same advice about reading often, citing long lists of¬†successful leaders and business owners who do so. And, just like King, they quantify the number of books per year. In just two days’ time,¬†the notion of reading about sixty books per year — and the incredible value in doing so — was presented to me.

I know I couldn’t just consider it a coincidence — that in both of these books written by successful people about successful people that¬†there is a magic number of books we need to read each year — and then move on. I kept thinking about this number. I mean I’d been pretty close with about forty books a year, so maybe adding twenty more books wouldn’t be so tough. I struggled with figuring out how I could fit all of these books into my own schedule.

Then, two more things happened over the next few months to convince me that I had to find a way.

First, I came across this quote by Lisa See from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: ‚ÄúRead a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.‚ÄĚ I did a little math, and 1000 books divided by 60 books a year works out to almost 17 years. It hit really me then. (Like a big punch in the gut or a hard slap in the face, it hit me.) If I had been reading at the full pace of sixty books a year all along, perhaps writing would be a lot easier for me by now. Perhaps I would be finding and expressing my ideas a little more clearly. It struck me that I had some serious catching up to do on my reading.

UAAAAldEVYdGRhdGU6Y3JlYXRlADIwMTQtMTAtMjFUMDM6MTQ6NTAtMDc6MDBPKjBrAAAAJXRFWHRkYXRlOm1vZGlmeQAyMDE0LTEwLTE2VDIzOjIxOjQ2LTA3OjAwoct3agAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==I did a little more (quick) math, and 60 books a year divided by 52 weeks a year is just over 1 book a week. Broken down like that, I was just about convinced that I could do it, that I could read a book a week.

Then, the second thing happened which made it absolutely impossible for me not to commit to sixty books. I logged in to my Goodreads account in January and sure enough, there was the 2015 Reading Challenge, taunting me to set a reading goal for the year. Other Goodreads members had already set their goals. I saw that some had goals of thirty books, and some much higher goals of one hundred and fifty! I know myself pretty well as a reader, and I know that I like to read slowly and take notes and write in the margins of my books when I can. I figured, therefore, that anything over sixty year might be too much for me, so I decided to go ahead, listening to good advice, and set a reading goal of sixty books for the year. I was officially committed to my new goal.

As with any resolution set in the cold month of January, there is a chance that the motivation will taper off. There is a strong risk that our beginning-of-the-year good intentions will become waylaid by the hustle and bustle of our modern lives. We have short attention spans these days. We get easily distracted. We are fickle.

For all of those reasons, I have kept my goal of sixty books pretty¬†private¬†— until now. ¬†Today, I am happy to say that I have finished reading twenty-nine of the sixty books (which Goodreads informs me is one book ahead of schedule). I am also in the middle of reading three other books right now and just ordered two more for book club discussions. I’m feeling pretty confident that my goal of sixty books is not only plausible, but is probable, and possible¬†as well. (Especially with all of the wedding plans behind us now and summer vacation ahead, I think I might even surpass the goal this year!)

Future posts will be dedicated not only to accomplishing this goal of reading sixty books, but also what reading sixty books is helping me to accomplish.

Thank you, Stephen King, Steven Levitt, and Stephen Dubner. I am very, very thankful that I read your books.

It is with experience-based confidence in my own ability to keep up the pace of sixty books that I offer the same challenge to all of you. Will you commit to reading sixty books? Do you already read sixty books a year? More? I’d love to know.

Leave your comments below or use #SixtyBooks on Twitter to keep the conversation going.