My New Years Resolution this year was a simple one. I just wanted to read more. When I was younger, I used to tear through book after book, from the Mary Downing Hahn ghost stories I loved so much in elementary school, to YA series like Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games. I would go to bed with a book under my pillow and read by the bathroom light across the hall until late at night. I’d carry a book with me everywhere I went on the off-chance that I’d get a second to read a little bit. When I went to the library, I’d come back with a stack of books a foot high. I wasn’t just a habitual reader, I was obsessed.
I’m not sure when or why I stopped, but I looked up at the end of 2020 and realized that I’d only read a handful of books all year. Those that I had read were mostly rereads, and I was only reading on vacation or if I had nothing else to do. Going into 2021, I knew I had to do better.
I thought about committing to a challenge or a number but eventually decided against it. The goal was just to read more, more than I did last year, and with more mindfulness about what I was choosing. I only set one concrete rule for myself: most, if not all of my picks, should be new to me. So far, I haven’t broken that rule. To track my progress, I’ve started keeping a log in Google Sheets where I record the title, author, and the finishing date of every book I’ve read this year. To date, I’ve read seven books since January, which is definitely not a lot, but I think I’ve already eclipsed my total from 2020, so I’m going to call that a win. The name of the game is improvement. It’s not just about the numbers.
It’s been fun. I’ve branched out a little bit into nonfiction and graphic novels, and I’m finally committing to working through my years-old “To-Be-Read” list. With a whole library right in walking distance, it’s been easy to expand my horizons when it comes to finding new, interesting topics to learn about in the nonfiction section. As a writer, I’m approaching my creative writing practice with a different perspective as I am constantly discovering and rediscovering what works in a narrative. There have been many benefits to this new habit, but honestly, just having an excuse to step away from the screen for a minute, especially during this mostly online semester, has been good for me.
If you’re looking to start reading more often, start small. Set reasonable goals for yourself, and remember that you’re doing this to make your life better. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading the latest YA thriller or a science article from a magazine or some highly recommended American classic. You’ll see the benefits. Reading makes your attention span longer, it exercises your brain and helps to expand your vocabulary. If nothing else, it’s fun!
My favorite read so far has been Carrie by Stephen King. It was short, but King packs a ton of horror into that little book. While I’m on this creepy kick, I’m planning on starting Lisey’s Story, also by King, within the next couple of days. After that, I’m just excited to see where this resolution takes me.