It’s that time of the year again, where most of us, having stuffed ourselves with Christmas lunch and its leftovers for the following week(s), will vow to eat healthier, drink less and be more organised in the ‘New Year’. Yet as admirable as those resolutions are, (for me at least) the Ben and Jerry’s is always back in the freezer by mid-January and my floordrobe becomes evermore a permanent feature of my bedroom.
That said, for the past few years there has always been one resolution I’ve kept, and that’s my book challenge – to read 52 books in a year; with a little shove from Goodreads (which helpfully tells me how behind I am), I’ve managed to complete the challenge every year since 2011. So, this year I decided to come up with a few more book-related resolutions, because let’s face it – we keep these ones, because we enjoy doing them! (unlike eating kale smoothies for a week).
1. Read 20/52/101/however-many-you-want books in a year: Either by setting up a Goodreads account, or keeping a tally on a piece of paper somewhere, the feeling of accomplishment you get from hitting your target is so satisfying – it’s so easy to put off reading for long periods of time in the hectic mess that is life, but setting a goal really does push you to read and do something rewarding, rather than rewatch Mean Girls for the 8th time.
2. Go to a library/charity shop and pick a book you’ve never heard of before: As an English student, the thought of stepping outside the canon is mildly terrifying, and most people tend to go for books that ‘everyone’s read’ or ‘you must read’. But this year, fellow bookworms, I challenge us to be brave! This year, pick a book based on how interesting the blurb is, or how pretty the cover is (‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’, yeah right) – not how famous its author is, or how some guy with a combover and a trouser waistline which comes up to his ears, thinks its the ‘book of your generation’.
3. Challenge your tastes: If you usually stick with the classics, try something that was published this year. If you only ever read post-20th century literature, try something a bit older, like Jonathan Swift or George Eliot. If you normally read romantic fiction, try a sci-fi novel. If you usually like reading about big events, like battles and wars, try something more personal or domestic. Sure, you might find that actually, no, you do prefer reading about Mr Darcy than a Vogon – but on the other hand, you might end up opening a whole new genre of literature that you would never otherwise have bothered with. You never know unless you try!
4. Keep a quotation journal: You know that feeling when you read a line in a book that fills your heart with this inexpressible feeling of awe, and understanding and envy, because ‘why can I never write a line like that?!’. Well, this is the perfect way to savour that precious moment. Keep a little notebook or something nearby whilst you read, and when you come across a line jot it down – you might even like to be arty with them, using different colours like this person from the Humans of New York page (a page I cannot recommend enough). I might even upload a photo of my very own quotation journal, once I’ve completed a double spread…
5. Do something literary: Reading can be a solitary business sometimes, but there is massively underrated literary scene going on all over the place. The most accessible, obviously, is the internet – participate in discussions about books on Goodreads, write creatively on Wattpad, or even do what I’m doing now, start a book blog (and be sure to let me know about it in the comments!). Similarly, there are plenty of things to do off the internet too – Google your nearest book club or literary festival, go to a book signing (I once queued nine hours for one and it was incredible) or simply go to the cinema and watch a film adaptation of something you’ve read.
6.Discover a lot about a little: It’s easy enough, once you’ve finished a book,to put it down, feel a bit smug if it’s a long one, and switch on the TV – but I’ve found that the words on the page are just the tip of the reading process iceberg. One time, I read ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf for an essay; once I finished it, I thought ‘that was quite good’ and switched on Sherlock. However, when I started thinking about writing the essay I realised I hadn’t really read it properly at all – 4 hours of Wikipedia-ing, Googling and listening to In Our Time podcasts about Woolf I discovered that I’d found my favourite author – the bookworm’s equivalent of an earth-shuddering nerdgasm.
What New Year’s Resolutions are you setting yourself for 2015? Any more bookish ones to add to the list? If so, let me know in the comments! Oh, and before I forget…HAPPY NEW YEAR!