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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mama Bear Moxie: Make 2019 the year you hit the books

James Creek examines selections at Bank Books, in downtown Martinsburg, W.Va., late last year. Meanwhile, columnist Kristina Phalen set a goal in 2018 to read more, and she did. (Michael Neary / AP)
James Creek examines selections at Bank Books, in downtown Martinsburg, W.Va., late last year. Meanwhile, columnist Kristina Phalen set a goal in 2018 to read more, and she did. (Michael Neary / AP)
By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

Happy New Year! I am not one for making a ton of resolutions. I have a history of declaring this year the “year of _____” only to never really make a change past the end of January. However, last year, I decided to make a simple, dedicated choice: read more.

Now, you might think as a writer, and former English major, I should have a book in my hand every day. However, I struggled with reading lately as there always seems to be something better I could be doing with my time. As moms, we tend to put everyone else first in the family, and , it is killing us.

It is killing our sanity. It is killing our parenting. It is killing our joy.

I made a resolution to read 12 books by the end of the year. Now, this goal may look pitiful for you voracious readers, but it was a lofty goal for myself. One book per month sounded attainable even if I wasn’t quite sure if I could really do it.

I am proud to announce that not only did I hit by goal of 12 books, but I read 21 books this year! I am normally a fan of fiction, specifically 19th century historical fiction, but I managed to read three nonfiction books as well. A few book clubs helped as did my desire to learn more about adoption.

I encourage my readers to make their own reading goals. Everyone likes to read, but everyone doesn’t like to read the same thing. Finding something that interests you is important in reaching your reading goal. With so many subjects, there’s something for everyone.

Sometimes I have put a book down a few chapters into it because I just can’t into it. That is perfectly fine. There may have been a time, recently, when I would stubbornly finish every book I started. But who has time for that? Life is too short to keep reading something that you couldn’t care less about.

Here a few tips that I wanted to share:

Take your book everywhere

You may not actually get to read, but there are so many small pockets of time when you could be reading a page here or there. Waiting in the car to pick up a kid, waiting for the pasta water to boil or waiting for sleep to finally come are all good times to pick up a book.

Turn off the screens

Turn off the TV, put down your phone and choose to get in a few pages.

Take recommendations

I follow the Hello Sunshine book club by Reese Witherspoon and read about half of her picks for 2018. She announces a new book every month, and they are good recommendations for me. If her style isn’t for you, consider another book club and try out a book or two off the list. Librarians or book store workers are also an excellent source.

Read with Others

By meeting every week, either online or in person, others will help hold you accountable.

Use the Library

Using your community library is the best way to read a ton of books without any cost. I rarely buy books. Many libraries share with others, so ask your librarian to order you a book if you can’t find it on the shelves.

So, what are you waiting for? Get reading and stay tuned for an upcoming column where I will recommend my favorites from this past year as well as other titles that have really helped me in parenting.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at

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