Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reading Resolutions for 2009

At the end of every year, I set "reading resolutions" for the upcoming year. I choose my resolutions by looking back over my reading for the last year and asking myself what I wished I had read more of. One December, for example, I noticed that most of the books I read that year were by women, so my reading resolution for the next year was to read more books by men than by women. It was an interesting year, and I learned that, in the aggregate, men and women do tend to write a bit differently. Since that year, I seem to maintain a pretty good balance between male and female authors without even thinking about it.

In reflecting on my reading in 2008, I see that the vast majority of my selections were published by the major houses. I'm also disappointed that I only read 15 books in translation (out of more than 100 b00ks). In order to address these issues, I've made two reading resolutions for 2009. The first is to read at least 20 books in translation. The second is to read at least 20 books from small-ish publishers (including university presses). I haven't yet decided how to handle cross-overs (Does a translated book from a small publisher count towards both resolutions?). I'm thinking not, but that might be too much bookkeeping.

For those of you without reading resolutions, you might consider making one or more. Some resolutions I've considered in the past include:
  • Read more books by men than women (or the opposite)
  • Read one book published in each decade since 1750
  • Read one book written in each continent
  • Read a certain number of books in translation
  • Read a certain number of books of poetry/plays/short stories/classics/non-fiction/fiction/experimental fiction (whatever you don't generally read but would like to read more of)
  • Read a certain number of books about a particular, specific subject you've always been interested in
  • Read all the major prize winners during the year (Man Booker Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Orange Prize, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award)
  • Join a book club (on-line or in person) and read every selection

My reading resolutions over the years have encouraged me to read outside my comfort zone, have broadened my reading interests, and have made me a more well-rounded and well-informed reader. What are your reading resolutions for 2009?


Yasmin said...

Happy New Year! Right now I only have one reading read at least 100 books this year and all the books currently in my TRP...hmmm okay that's two

Anna van Gelderen said...

I don't make resolutions, but I do try to keep my reading diverse. I just checked my list of 2008 and it turns out that about 25% of the fiction I read was in translation (ranging from Kyrgysztan and Argentina to Iceland and Nigeria) and that also 25% was from the period before 1970. This seems just about right.
The thing that stood out was that I read only 4 science books this year and no less than 13 history books on Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Once I started reading up on this period I could not stop myself: with every book I read there were more things I wanted to find out. I know all sorts of useless things on Byzantium and the feudal system now :-)

Anonymous said...

Definitely more non-fiction this year. I totaled 94 books in 2008 and only 5 of which were non-fiction.

For black history month in February, I plan to re-visit some of Toni Morrison's works and her latest, A Mercy. My campus is featuring works of James Baldwin.

Robert Nagle said...

I'm not trying to be cute, but my reading resolution has been to avoid resolutions. I read what I read. Sometimes I vow to read a lot of A and end up reading B instead.

My big reading change has been buying a kitchen table. Don't laugh! That now means I can read while eating breakfast and dinner. (During dinner, I would usually read in front of the TV, and during breakfast, I'd read before a computer screen). I've always found that eating and reading go naturally together.

My resolution has been to finish some of those Asian classics (Tale of Genji, Dream of the Red Chamber, Plum in the Golden Vase, etc). If I complete one of those 3 sagas, I'll be happy.