Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season was full of family, rest, and plenty of books. It is the first week of January, which is the time for making resolutions. I’ve made a few personal and relational goals for myself this year, but this isn’t the place for those. This is the place for book resolutions.
1. Buy No New Books
I’m cringing as I type this resolution. But aren’t resolutions supposed to be something of a challenge?
I’ve spent the last two weeks turning the idea over in my head and I think it has the makings of a brilliant resolution. It will do wonderful things for my personal restraint, budget, and ability to not give in to my bibliophilic hoarding. I think it’s good to cultivate a lifestyle of not indulging most desires or whims just because you have the means — teaching yourself that you can do without just fine. It’s also really practical, as my shelves are completely full. But the main reason I want to do this is so I can make a dent in the books I already have but haven’t read.
Like many of you, my to-read list is MASSIVE. But the percentage of the to-reads that I already own or have access to is sizable. There are 15 books on my designated to-read table at home. I also just checked my Nook: 21 unread ebooks (purchased and library). I’m on the waiting list for ten books at two different libraries, I received 11 books for Christmas and I probably have two dozen or so books on my shelves that I purchased but never read. None of these books are things I’m obligated to read; I very much want to finish all of them (or did at one point). Now, I know I’ll never be able to read all the books there are, or even a good chunk of all the good ones. But I can at least make a dent in the ones I have access to or already own.
But some caveats.
Caveat 1: Libraries, books from work, books borrowed from friends, and books received as gifts are not breaking the rules of this personal challenge. Neither is giving a book as a gift to a friend for an occasion I would normally give them a gift. However, buying a book for a friend so that I can borrow it is a violation.
Caveat 2: This challenge does not mean I have to read every book in my house. That’s a little unrealistic as it might take me the next three years. Also, Taylor (the husband) is a student of biblical languages and theology. I don’t have to read every book we own on Ugaritic. I can bypass what I want.
Caveat 3: I’m setting aside $15 of cheat money for each Denver Public Library book sale. The first is in June. If I cheat prior to the sale, I forfeit my right to go to the sale and spend the money.
Caveat 4: Patrick Rothfuss titles and J.K. Rowling titles that are announced/released are exceptions to this rule.
2. Read Fewer Books
Or rather, read each book with more thought and consideration. Read slowly, with focus. Unlike Jeremy Anderberg or Jessica Pryde over at Book Riot, I don’t want to nix my goal in order to spend less time with books or free myself up from the pressure of my goal. I don’t feel over saturated. I just want to spend more time with each thing I read. Same quantity of time with a higher quality.
Last year, I read 126 books, excluding the ones I just skimmed for work. This was a LOT of books for me. More than I’ve read any year since before college, when I didn’t track my yearly reading. I found many that I loved, many that were fine, and many that were unappealing on several different levels. But the more I read the more I found myself reading at an intentionally frenzied pace to push myself to finish more books. I feel as though I missed some of the beauty in the great books. I didn’t stop to dwell on the emotion or the ideas. I rushed on to the next book to increase my number.
This year, I want to let books set in. I miss letting books affect me in a meaningful way. The ones I loved this year grabbed me, but I feel like I moved on from their pull too quickly without wrestling with their impact. I want to flip through the pages after I finish something wonderful and reflect on what stuck out to me. Notice particular quotes or moments or ideas. I’m still setting my Goodreads goal. I’ve put it to 65 books, roughly half as many books as I read last year. This number isn’t something I have to reach or stay under, but a ballpark goal to remind me: I want to read half as many books twice as thoughtfully. Maybe in the end I’ll find I read just as many books as 2014 but made more time in my schedule to think about each title. We’ll see.
Alright. Enough from me. What are your goals for reading this year? Will you explore a genre you’ve never read? Read every classic you only skimmed in school? Read 10 more books than last year (even if that just means 10 books total)? I’m also taking bets on whether or not you think I will be able to make it to June 11-14 without buying a book.