Bookish Resolutions for the New Year

December 27, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

Making a resolution to “read more” in the New Year is a common goal. As writers, reading not only helps you discover new worlds and comparative titles, there are lots of side benefits, too! After all, reading improves your quality of life, along with making you more employable and empathetic. We all know we should begin to mount those massive to-read lists on our Goodreads, but how to start? Here are some more concrete goals that can help you achieve your goals.

Resolutions to build a reading habit:

Join a book club

Okay, this one seems self-explanatory, but hear me out. Joining a book club (or six, in my case) can be excellent peer pressure to finish a book. Some types of book clubs I belong to:

            -Everyone reads the same book at the same time and meets in person

                        Benefits: snacks, conversation, common text

                        Drawbacks: everyone reads the same book

            -Everyone reads a book on a theme, meets in person, and gives a report on it

                        Benefits: snacks, lots of good book recommendations

                        Drawbacks: conversation often strays away from books… but snacks, right?

            -Everyone reads the same book and posts in an internet forum over a series of days

                        Benefits: no need to put pants on or talk to people in person, make internet friends

Drawbacks: less back-and-forth conversation, set questions rather than a free-flowing discussion… no snacks!

-Everyone reads the same series of books, mailed from person to person in a pre-determined order with a journal to mark down your reflections as you go.

Benefits: very thoughtful experience, fun to read other’s perceptions in the travelling journal, fun to get mail

Drawbacks: cost to mail, less back-and-forth conversation

No matter the route you take, book clubs can be great chances to encourage yourself to finish a book by a deadline—key to reading more.

Take up a formal challenge and stick to it

There are a million reading challenges out there, and the trick is to stick to one that’s not impossible for your time commitment. Of course, one of the best out there is the Read Harder challenge, which commits you to roughly 24 books (at least) for the year.

Reading challenges often have a theme (around the world, for instance) or may have a connective thread (titles that start with each letter of the alphabet), but do your research ahead of time before committing. Check your “to read” list and see if your interests align enough with the challenge to get started—and stick to it.

Get more social with your reading

Connecting with other readers on social media can help add to your list if you’re not sure what to read next. Twitter, Litsy, and Instagram are good bets! Since joining Litsy, I’ve increased my reading by more than 50%. Having a community to share your love of reading with can be a great driving force to increase your reading load.

Plan a Bookish Staycation

A few times a year, Dewey’s Readathon challenges bookish folks to read for 24 hours out of a 48 hours weekend (called 24 in 48). These weekends can be a great chance to hunker down with a spouse or older children to get some quality book-time in. Since I have pre-reading age children, I use these weekends as a chance to read a lot of books out loud, take walks while listening to audiobooks, or squeeze in a few chapters instead of watching Netflix in the evenings.

Resolutions if you already have a clear reading habit in place:

Read YOUR books

Are you a compulsive book buyer but haven’t cracked those spines yet? Make it a goal to read a certain amount of your books before venturing to the book store. If you have crowded bookshelves, this can be a great way to read and pass on some new favorites to friends.

Read less (insert category here)

Look through the authors of the books you read last year and analyze what percentage are male? White? Heterosexual? American native born? Month by month, prioritize your stack so that you begin to pay attention to writers from backgrounds you may not have considered before. This works not just for nonfiction and literary fiction, but for any genre. Love sci-fi and have never picked up an Octavia Butler book? Love mystery novels but haven’t stumbled upon Joe Ide’s IQ series yet?

Record an audiobook

Any book in the public domain (check Project Gutenberg for examples and a wide variety of texts) can be recorded without fee, so they’re free game for audiobook recordings. Apps like LibriVox distribute volunteer narrations of texts like Middlemarch and Tom Sawyer in multiple languages. You can narrate a chapter, an entire work, or be part of an ensemble cast. Share the love of books with someone else in a new way.

Share your Love of Books

It can be hard to remember to leave that review on platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads, but those reviews make a big difference for authors! Make a resolution to review more frequently! If you already do, you can write a brief email or letter to those authors you love to thank them for their work.

No matter what, we all start the New Year with promises to be better. Reading better is one of the easiest ways to feel healthier, happier, and more creative! I hope you join me in making a resolution to read in 2018.

Rachel Mans McKenny is an agented author of women’s fiction and essays. You can find her work in publications as various as Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and US Catholic, as well as numerous literary magazines. Follow her blog or connect on Twitter (@rmmckenny), Facebook (@rmmckenny), and Litsy (@rachelm).

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