13 Resolutions for the Reading Life

It’s January once again, and that means it’s time for looking over the past year and setting intentions for the New Year. People everywhere are making resolutions for living a better life, and today I’m looking specifically at my reading life. I'm sharing thirteen resolutions to shape my 2015 reading experience, in hopes of making this year bigger and better than the last. They include resolutions to read more diversely, stop feeling ashamed of what I love to read, and to re-visit the classics I left behind after graduating from college. 

1. Get Re-Acquainted with the Library

I thought I’d start with this one because when it comes to procuring books, there’s no place quite like it. I’m no stranger to roaming the bookstore, and I’m quite familiar with the lure of the Amazon one-click, but I’ve fallen out of favor with the one place that I’m sure to discover my next great read—my local library.

The library holds so many treasures, not only in the stacks themselves, but also through the wonders of technology where I can download an eBook from their collection—for free! Besides the obvious financial benefit to reading books I didn’t have to purchase for myself, there’s also the wonderful bonus of having a librarian available who can recommend resources and set me on the right path when it comes to discovering new stuff. Since I’m not committing to a book with my own dollar, I’m also free to take more risks in my reading and maybe discover a new favorite that I might not have otherwise considered. So, in 2015 I resolve to get re-acquainted with my local library.

2. Read Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Since we’re talking about taking risks, it brings me to my next resolution—to read outside of my comfort zone. I recently had a friend come over and while he was browsing my extensive bookshelves, he mentioned the prevalence of covers featuring couples almost-kissing-but-not-quite. I tried to protest, but it’s true. I read a ton of contemporary young adult and adult romance, and often times not a lot else. In 2015, I resolve to move outside of my comfort zone and read genres that I’ve so far avoided. I’m thinking that fantasy is first up on my list, followed closely by some crime dramas and thrillers. These are two genres with which I am not very familiar, but that that I’d like to get acquainted with.

In 2015, I’d like to really explore the world of books and include more diverse authors and subjects.

3. Read More Diversely

Reading outside of my comfort zone is a good start, but I’d like to expand on that and include "reading more diversely" to my list of reading resolutions. Last year I picked up a bunch of books featuring authors and main characters that come from vastly different experiences than my own (you can catch up with some of my favorites here), but that was really just the beginning. In 2015, I’d like to really explore the world of books and include more diverse authors and subjects. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign has wonderful resources for getting started, and there is a wealth of literature to be explored.

4. Re-Visit the Classics

This is one that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’m one year out from receiving my degree in English Literature, where I was knee-deep in classic lit. Since graduating, I haven’t cracked the spine on a single classic text. Not one. I’m not sure how a year has gone by without revisiting some of the classics, since I devoured them in school and loved every minute of it. A particular favorite was Shakespeare, whom I studied for three semesters, yet nary a page of him have I read in the past year. In 2015, I resolve to put the contemporary literature aside for just a little while and get re-acquainted with some dusty old favorites.

5. Don't be Ashamed by What You Love to Read

I feel like this one probably goes without saying, yet so much has been said on the subject of being ashamed of what you’re reading. Am I a thirty-something with an affinity for Young Adult fiction? Yes, I am—and what of it? Do I want to read bodice-ripping erotica in my spare time? So what if I do! This year I am resolving to read what I want to read, when I want to read it, and have no shame in the process.

6. Let An Author Know They've Moved You

We are in this wonderful time of transparency where many of our favorite authors are available to us in ways they never were before. Many of them blog or have an active presence on Twitter, and it has never been easier to tell them their work has made an impact on you. This year I resolve to creep out of the shadows and interact with an author whose book has moved me. I can’t imagine that heartfelt praise ever goes unnoticed, and the authors I love deserve to know that their work has made a difference in someone’s life.

In 2015, I resolve to keep my eyes on my own paper and enjoy reading at my own pace. No more judging my reading progress against others!

7. Don't Judge Your Reading Progress Against Others 

I love to read, and I love a good challenge. For me, nothing is quite as satisfying as playing along with the Goodreads Reading Challenge and marking off books towards my goal. Although I know that it’s not a competition, I sometimes can’t help but feel inadequate when I see others on the app reading so many books in such a short period of time. I consider myself fairly well read, yet peeking over my shoulder at other readers can make me feel bad about my own reading habits. In 2015, I resolve to keep my eyes on my own paper and enjoy reading at my own pace. No more judging my reading progress against others!

8. Never Be Caught Waiting Without a Book Again

This is another one you’d think would be a no-brainer. I read roughly 100 books a year and make time for reading whenever I can, yet I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve been caught up in a waiting room or long line without any available reading material. I’m solving this problem by doing something I’ve yet to explore in the reading world. I’m going to download books to my phone. I usually read physical books or on an iPad, but his changes in 2015. If I’m not carrying a book itself, I resolve to always have reading material available on my phone.

9. Read From Your TBR Pile Instead of Buying New Books

I think it’s safe to say that I have a little book problem. I absolutely love the feel and smell of a real, physical book, and I cannot be trusted in a bookstore. What began as an innocuous stack of to-be-read books has now grown to be a bookshelf (yes, an entire bookshelf) of TBR gems and it has quite frankly gotten out of hand. This year I resolve to read more of those books already living on my home bookshelves, and until I’ve made a significant dent, I will resist purchasing new ones. (Well, except that new Sarah Dessen that’s coming out. Oh, and that Gayle Forman)…

 10. Purge Your Bookshelves

Reading more from my TBR shelves leads me to my next resolution—to purge the books I already have on my shelves. I’m a bit of a book collector (ahem—hoarder?) and I will always have books that I want to own forever, but there are surely many, many books on my shelves that I might never read again, and this year I resolve to purge them. There’s a ton of places I can take them, including shelters and libraries. I can even take them back to my favorite local used bookstore and trade them in for credit to purchase new books. Wait, that might be defeating the point.

11. Do Not Be Afraid of the DNF!

I am a serial book finisher. When I decide to read a book, I am devoted to completing every page until I reach the finish, no matter how poorly it is written or how much I dislike the story. Some of the time this has served me well, in that I have hung in there through some rough beginnings to discover a story that I really ended up loving, but in most cases it just means that I wasted precious reading time reading a book I disliked. In 2015, I will fight my irrational fear of the Did Not Finish label and free myself to abandon books I’m not feeling good about after the first 50 or 100 pages.

12. Read More Self-Published Novels

With all of the books being self-published today, it is difficult to wade through the mess to find a really good book, but in 2015 I am resolving to take a chance on more self-published authors. Last year I read a couple of wonderful self-published titles (like Dahlia Adler’s Last Will and Testament—so good) that got me started, and this year I’m going to continue that search to find undiscovered gems.

13. Read the Book Before Seeing the Movie

There are so many great book-to-film adaptations coming out in 2015 (check out a few highly anticipated ones here) and this year I resolve to read those books before going to the theater. How else can I have an intelligent is-the-book-better-than-the-film conversation?

By the length of this list, it may seem like I’ve got a lot of reforming to do when it comes to reading, but I think that every one of these resolutions will help make me a more well-rounded reader. Have you set any resolutions for your reading? How do you push yourself towards a more fulfilled reading life?

Riki Cleveland

Column by Riki Cleveland

Riki has a long-standing love affair with all things books and writing. She indulged her love for all things literary with a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and is currently studying at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Although she is well past her own teen years, Riki’s reading passion lies with Young Adult literature where she devours books that handle the “firsts” in life. When not reading and writing she can be found yelling at the television while watching sports.

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Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb January 22, 2015 - 12:28pm

I like 1, 6, 7 and 12. Hell, I like them all but those are kind of what I'm doing at the moment too.

Tom1960's picture
Tom1960 from Athens, Georgia is reading Blindness by Jose Saramago January 23, 2015 - 7:11am

Good advice.

laurafeasey's picture
laurafeasey from Oxford, England is reading Frankenstein January 26, 2015 - 11:26am

I pulled Frankenstein from my heaving bookshelf last night because I promised myself I would read a classic inbetween every 'easy-reader' this year... my problem now is when it comes to actually categorising each one, because before I know it, I've spent an hour staring at the bookcase deciding which is what. This list is great, but I might add one... to blindly select a title every now and again, save the pain of picking!

cameronhooper's picture
cameronhooper May 20, 2015 - 2:04am

Every New Year brings new opportunity and options to do something better in life. We used to take some resolution in New Year and used to follow them strictly to do gain something better in life; resolutions are better and suitable for us as it bring success and changes in our personal as well as professional life. And here also we have found some beneficial points for life and how resolution may bring success and positive changes in our life.