New Year’s Reading Resolutions
Posted by: Neil Hollands
As a new year approaches, I always like to take time to ponder my reading habits and make a few resolutions for the upcoming year. Here are my reading resolutions for 2011:
1) MAKE TIME TO BE CAPTIVATED BY BOOKS
As a professional book person, I have a dozen tricks to sneak a few extra pages into my schedule: reading at meals, listening to audiobooks, taking a paperback any time I expect a line, and so on. In this digital age, I’m a multitasker extraordinaire. But I’m not as good as I once was at maintaining focus over long periods of time, and this affects the way I experience books. In 2011, I’m going to sneak five pages at a time less and find time to read for at least an hour more often. I miss the feeling of immersion that only comes when one reads for a long stretch.
2) TAKE MY “READING ACROSS THE LIBRARY” PROJECT SERIOUSLY
A couple of years ago, I quietly started a project to read my way across the fiction section of the larger of the two libraries where I work. From each three foot shelf, I select one book that I think I’ll like and read it. Two years later, because of the many other books that demand my time, I’m still in the middle of the “A”‘ authors. At this rate, I’m never going to make it! So far I’ve enjoyed writers like Julia Alvarez, Louisa May Alcott, Niccolo Ammaniti, Diana Abu-Jaber, Chris Adrian, and Daniel Alarcon, writers whom I probably never would have tried otherwise. Poul Anderson, you’re next!
3) DUST OFF SOME CLASSICS
It’s ironic, as a youngster I had to read classics all the time and often didn’t like them. Now that I’m an adult, I rarely find time for these books, but almost always feel enriched when I do. I appreciate why even minor classics have passed the test of time. In 2011, I’m turning to old books more often.
4) EXPLORE NEW WRITERS
Conversely, my annual compilations of the best book votes of the year always inspire me to try newer writers. (I hope to start posting about that project next week Buzz readers). This year, Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies, Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, Gabrielle Zevin’s The Hole We’re In, N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Adam Ross’s Mr. Peanut, Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad are among the shiny new titles that just keep capturing my eye.
5) FINISH SOME SERIES
I make this resolution every year. I’m not one to read all of the books in a series back to back. I don’t mind stringing them out over years. But my list of unfinished series is becoming almost unbearable, and it’s time to knock some out. Besides, this resolution dovetails nicely with my first. Maybe if I do read some series books back to back, I’ll find the engrossment that I love.
What are your reading resolutions for the next year? Share them in the comments below, exchange them with reading friends or co-workers, or discuss them at your next book group meeting. It’s got to be more productive than repeating that plan to lose twenty pounds!