On New Year’s Eve, I had one goal—to finish the book I was reading before my company arrived so I could welcome 2015 with a completely fresh slate.
I know. You’re amazed at how I’ve kept my priorities straight. I assure you, it’s taken years of practice.
On Wednesday night, as I donned my paper tiara, gorged myself on Chinese food and sang a little too loudly to One Direction on Rockin’ New Year’s Eve (seriously, how great is Harry Styles?), I thought about all of the possibilities that the new year would bring. Yes, there was health and happiness and making good life choices, but I was mainly thinking about what’s really important—books. How many books did I read over the past year? How many could I read in the next? What book would I choose to ring in 2015 with? Would that somehow define how the rest of my year would go? While I was really tempted to set a solid reading resolution for myself (and Goodreads did a great job of coaxing me in that direction), I knew that it wouldn’t be the best route for me. Setting a numerical or clearly measurable goal may work for many, but I would spend every day worrying that I wasn’t reading fast enough, or if I ended up ahead of the game, I’d be concerned that I wasn’t savoring each book in the way that it deserved. For me, it’s less about how much I read and more what I read and how much I get out of it. Still, a fresh new year with no resolutions is kind of a missed opportunity, so I’ve decided to give myself a few New Year’s suggestions.
If I call them that and they’re not so stringent, I’ll be much more likely to stick to them.
Re-read some of my favorite books. I have so many favorites, and every time I talk, think or write about them, I have the burning desire to drop whatever I’m doing, ignore everything in life and jump into the world of my beloved old friends. (Marjorie Morningstar, it’s been too long!) Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a dozen books I’ve vowed to revisit recently. I’d love to re-read even one book a month, but realistically, I don’t know if that will happen. If I spent as much time on my old favorites as I wanted, I’d be shutting out the possibilities of so many potential new favorites! Still, my favorite books are my favorites for a reason, and no matter how many shiny new releases I read this year, I’m promising myself (without putting a number on it) that I’ll spend some time with my best darlings, because the beauty of great books is that you can get something new out of your 100th read. The real pickle is deciding which one to start with.
Find a new author to fall in love with. This one should be easy. I do it constantly. One of the most thrilling things to me as a reader is picking up a book by someone I’ve never heard of simply because the description sounds interesting, only to find myself totally enamored of what I’m reading. Sometimes they’re debut authors, sometimes they’re veterans who are just new to me. If I read the final page and am desperate to read everything this person has ever written, I know the author has done his or her job. I can’t wait to discover what new voices I’ll meet in 2015.
Read something outside of my typical wheelhouse. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but before I picked up Outlander a few years ago, I didn’t know if it would be for me. Time travel? I hadn’t entered the world of time travel since Marty McFly. But I’d heard such good things about it, and it took place in Scotland, and it featured a World War II nurse, and I love WWII history. I went for it, and holy crap am I glad that I did. Never in my life has a book series consumed me in the way that Outlander has, and when I encounter people who have never heard of it or are reluctant to read it, I end up selling the amazingness of Craigh na Dun and Jamie and Claire until my voice is hoarse. The point is, you never know if a book will be your new favorite until you try it. As a writer, I rank reading books across genres as one of the most important things to do. I owe it to myself to take my own advice.
Admit when a book is not my cup of tea. Even the very best books are not for everyone. I have a hard time quitting books before I’m through with them because it makes me feel like I’m being unfair—to the author, to the characters, to myself. At the same time, we only have a limited number of years on this planet, and there are so, so many amazing books out there. Even Francie Nolan couldn’t read every book ever written. If I’m not that into a book, it will take me longer to read it because I’m not desperate to find out what will happen next. The longer it takes me to finish one book, the more time I’m taking away from the next great book around the corner. This year, if I’m really, really not feeling a book, I will forgive myself if I don’t want to finish it. Maybe I’ll set it aside and revisit it in the future. Maybe I won’t. Either way, the world won’t end.
Help you find your next favorite book. I am most excited about this one! As I’ve mentioned a billion and two times, I love talking about books with anyone who will listen. There is nothing I love more than recommending a book to someone and having them tell me later on how much they loved it. This blog has only been live for a few months, but already I’ve heard from some of you that my reviews have helped you find great books. I can’t tell you how much I love hearing that. Again, not every book is for every person, but with this blog, I hope to share what I’ve taken away from the wonderful books I’ve read. If that helps you find a new book or new author to love, I’ll be thrilled. And if you have any recommendations for me, please let me know! One thing I know for sure is that when readers get talking with other readers, everyone comes away with a list of future favorite gems.
Have you made any reader resolutions for the new year? Are there any books, new or classic, that you can’t wait to dive into?
Happy 2015, everyone! Let’s get reading!