New Year = New reading you?
One should not feel obliged to take a reading resolution in the new year, but the holiday break is a fine opportunity to review the past year’s reading habits or trends and to imagine new goals or intentions. So what kinds of reading resolutions are possible? I wanted to take the time to go through some of the more common ones if you are not sure whether you really need a new challenge, or to make or break a habit for 2017. I divided them into three groupings:
1)Number of books
1)Number of books tends to be the most common one I hear, probably because I spend too much time on Goodreads and the yearly challenge is strictly about the number of books you intend to tackle in the coming year. You can start any time and you can adjust it on the fly so if 20 was your initial goal but you are having a banner year – bump it up to 50 to stretch yourself. Or conversely: you were aiming for 100 and your life circumstances are going to make that impossible? Bump it back to something more obtainable and just slightly stretchy. One of my goals is roughly to read less books than I did last year, so I’ve set it for 50.
2)Next up is reading/book habits! Maybe you would like to do more reading during certain times of day: before bed, in the morning, during your commute. Maybe you would like to read more with partners or children. Maybe this year you will join a book club or article group to incorporate more community and discussion in your reading life. Other common resolutions address tackling that TBR pile or shelf that is taking over your apartment! You might commit to “shopping your shelves” the next time you’re looking to pick up a book to read. Another good one is to try visiting the library instead of bookstore when space or money for additional reads is an ongoing problem – it’s free and you must give the books back after (although no one is stopping you from purchasing a newly discovered treasure.) Related is a one-book-in = one-book-out policy, which seems cruel but perhaps necessary if space or clutter is an issue.
3)Last is one of my favourites: Diversify! If you’ve spent a little time reviewing your past reading habits and trends, you may have noticed a tendency to read similar kinds of things over time. That is not bad per se, we all tend to read what we know we will like, but maybe there is good stuff out there that you are missing! Or perhaps you’ve been feeling like you are in a reading rut. Well, one way to tackle this particular problem is to take on a reading challenge. Several you might have heard of include the Book Riot yearly Read Harder challenge, the Book Club for Masochists genre reading challenge, or a diverse reading challenge such as those several of my workplaces have run – where the focus is on reading more women, minorities, and local authors using a points system or review model. These can be fun, and have definitely stretched my reading above and beyond what I normally read. One of the benefits of joining a challenge like these is the community aspect, where you can talk and give advice on potential reads to meet the challenge – because if there is one thing I like almost as much as reading books – it’s talking about them too.
But you needn’t feel obliged to take on someone else’s challenge wholesale. I’ve seen some interesting adaptions to different challenges already, thereby creating your own personal reading challenge to explore an area, a format, or a genre you haven’t spent much time on before, or just try a whole bunch of new things. You can definitely take inspiration from some of the other challenges out there but don’t let that constrain your imagination.
What are my reading resolutions? Well, as I noted above, I’m trying to read less books, with more intention. I might be a certified book glutton based on my last year’s experience and I think slowing down will improve the experience (and maybe my memory). Secondly, my intention is to read more French language materials – so if you have any recommendations I’m all ears. My reading level is only intermediate so things that are age appropriate and don’t require me to spend more of my time in a dictionary than reading to understand what is going on is ideal (the last book I started that I really enjoyed was Madame Victoria by Catherine Leroux.)
What about you? Reading resolutions you’ve taken on? Tips for my resolutions? Opinions on the resolution impulse?