Every once in a while, it’s nice to be pushed out of your comfort zone.

It can be so easy with our busy schedules to get settled into a comfortable routine. Wake up, exercise on the good days, get everyone out the door, get to practice or rehearsal, eat dinner, and take a few minutes to relax before heading to bed and doing it all over again.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like there’s no possible way I could fit anything else into the day.

Recently, though, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on my daily schedule. I’m trying to say no to some commitments so I can spend a bit more time doing things that bring me joy. I want more time to read things that challenge my way of thinking, and extra time to get outside with my husband and my dog.

Readers, it’s made a noticeable difference in my life. I really recommend it.

Reading different things and getting out into my community has been very eye-opening. I find myself increasingly able to see things from other’s points of view, able to consider things differently than I once did. I’d argue this is increasingly valuable in these times where things feel pretty divided in our nation.

If you need some inspiration to start a process like this for yourself, I have a suggestion.

All Pikes Peak Reads is Pikes Peak Library District’s annual program that aims to increase literacy and foster an important dialogue in our community, conversations we hope will transcend social, cultural, and generational lines. In 2019, it will run from Sept. 9 to Nov. 15 at each of our libraries.

The reason I’m giving you such advance notice is because there are some reading assignments that go along with the program. We select specific APPR titles each year to encourage important conversation, but also to help our community get the most out of the programs we’ll plan for the fall.

If you can get to reading them now, it stands to reason you’ll get that much more value out of the events we’re offering starting in September.

This year’s adult title is “TransAtlantic” by Colum McCann. It explores themes of multiculturalism, identity, friendship, and peace. We also selected a book of poetry for our adult readers this year: “Citizen Illegal,” by José Olivarez. For teens and children, we selected “Nowhere Boy,” by Katherine Marsh, which explores similar themes in a palatable way for younger readers.

We’re still planning our event lineup for this fall, but the programs will focus on exploring the themes in our selected titles. They will include author visits with those who wrote our selected titles, film screenings, workshops, music programs, and discussion events.

Readers, I recommend you start perusing these titles today. It will help you have important conversations within your circles and get full enjoyment out of APPR this fall. Go ahead, break out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it.

Kayah Swanson is the public relations specialist at Pikes Peak Library District. She’s a former journalist turned nonprofit communicator. Reach Kayah with any questions at kswanson@ppld.org.

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