This is my first year setting resolutions specifically linked to reading. I’ve always been a voracious reader but in the past year I’ve gotten more deeply involved in the book community than ever – following blogs and podcasts, joining a local bookstore bookclub, and keeping a finger on the best new releases from multiple genres. And so, what better way to start 2017 (which will probably be a terrible year for a lot of other reasons) than by setting intentional and varied book goals?
Read fewer books than I did in 2016
Last year I read the most books I ever have – well over 100, peaking at about 135 books. At a rate of about 2.5 books a week, that makes sense to me. If it’s a normal work day, I usually get about 3 hours of reading in between my commute and my lunch – and you can get a lot of pages read in 3 hours, never mind what I add on when I get home.
But, I found that reading so many books meant I read a lot of fluff books. I detest when people decry Young Adult literature or use the demeaning phrase “chick lit,” so I’m not referring to my propensity to read books in those genres. In fact, most of my favorite, most meaningful, and oftentimes very serious books come from those categories. But, there were still many books that were instantly forgettable, and I regret that I can’t remember anything about the book when someone asks me about it later.
So, this year I’m trying to read fewer books. I’ll accomplish this by picking meatier books (more below) and reading a little bit more slowly and more deeply.
Read one classic novel written by a female every three months
I did all your usual high school reading list books (To Kill a Mockingbird, etc), but there are so many classic – and, by all accounts, excellent – books that somehow have either gone unread by me or I only know it via the zeitgeist. So, I’ve pledged to read a classic oversight every quarter, and to stick to books written by women because I’ve had just about enough of white men (more below).
So far I’ve pegged Jane Eyre, Mrs. Dalloway, and The Age of Innocence for this project, but am always looking for more ideas!
Read more nonfiction
As part of my resolution to read more deeply, I’m adding in more nonfiction to my repertoire – particularly nonfiction about contemporary America. I fully admit to living in a mainly liberal bubble, both online and in real life (hi, living in Boston and working in higher education). So, I want to understand more about how the hell we got to where we are today.
As I write, I’m finishing up Strangers in Their Own Land -a sociologist’s attempt to understand “The Great Paradox” in Louisiana based around the question: “why do the people who would seem to benefit most from ‘liberal’ government intervention abhor the very idea?” I’m also excited to read Evicted, Hillbilly Elegy, and All The Single Ladies.
Be more discerning and wide-ranging
In general, I’m going to be pickier about what I put on my TBR and much more careful in putting a book on hold at the library. In the past, I’d put a book on hold at the library the second I read about it and would usually get about 5-10 books come in all at the same time – which would put the pressure on me to read incredibly quickly. So, I’m going to be a little pickier about what I read, write it down instead of put it on hold, and then check out books in an organized fashion (Do I sound cool or what?). Two books I’m especially excited to read soon are A Gentleman in Moscow and My Name is Lucy Barton.
I’m also going to be intentional about picking more diverse books set in locations besides the United States and Europe, and written by diverse authors. In my TBR pile next to my bed as we speak is Americanah – I can’t wait to report back on that.
So, there you have it! I’m interested in seeing how many books I end up reading this year, but mostly I’m excited to see how I end up liking them. And don’t you worry – I’ll still be reading way too much YA and female-centric literature.