Columns > Published on January 2nd, 2018

10 Resolutions to Help Make 2018 Your Best Reading Year Ever

Well, now that the dumpster fire known as 2017 is behind us, I suggest we fully embrace the social construction of New Year's resolutions and try to make the world better by reading more. Here are some suggestions that could make 2018 your best reading year so far:

10. Set a goal for yourself

Yes, I know this is a weird one and maybe you disagree with it, but hear me out. Two years ago, I started using Goodreads to keep track of my reading. Since then, I've seen folks challenge themselves every year by setting up a reading goal. You can pick ten books or a hundred books; the point is to get into a little competition with yourself. "But reading is a pleasure, G!" you say. Yes, but competing is also a pleasure, and so is feeling like you accomplished something at the end of the year. I also think that challenging yourself in this way could make a big difference on those nights when you're debating whether the current WIP will get your attention or you're going to turn on Netflix and watch whatever you can find.

9. Be more socially inclusive

If you're already thinking about replying to this with something about SJWs or a sentence that includes the words politically and correct, FUCK YOU. The more diverse books we consume, the more diverse our thinking can become. Sure, read women and POC and members of the LGBTQ+ community, but also read books by prisoners and professors. Get out there and look for books by authors from Africa, China, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. The world is a diverse place, and making your reading match that is a superb way to grow intellectually, as well as a great way to travel without leaving your house and learn more about those who inhabit, from your perspective, Otherness.

Don't complain that there aren't more books by black women or that you can't find books in Spanglish and then turn around and buy books by James Patterson, Dan Brown, and John Grisham.

8. Finally read that damn book

We all have a book that we haven't tackled yet because it's too long or too scary or just because we haven't gotten around to it because other books keep landing in our hands. This year, read that book. Go get it right now and get started. You'll be done in no time, and then you can cross it off your list forever.  

7. Forget about reading the things you think others expect you to have read

Never read Pynchon? Have you skipped Jane Austen on purpose? Started a John le Carré novel and it wasn't your thing? You never finished The Great Gatsby because it triggers awful high school memories? Cool! You don't have to read anything because you feel like others will judge you if you haven't. That shit's on them, not you. Life is short and there are too many books and too little time, so read whatever makes you happy.

6. Take responsibility for your purchases

Every time you buy a book, you're telling publishers something. Don't complain that there aren't more books by black women or that you can't find books in Spanglish and then turn around and buy books by James Patterson, Dan Brown, and John Grisham. Buy whatever you want with your money, but accept your contribution to shaping the industry with every book you buy.

5. Give your brain a workout

Reading within a familiar genre is easy, and I'd argue that even stepping out of your comfort zone a few times a year isn't that hard. What I'm talking about here is punching your brain awake with something new/fun/unexpected. I read a science book about a certain type of squid last year. Maybe this year it'll be a tome about economics or a cool nonfiction book about anthropology. Read stuff that makes you grow, that makes you think about things you rarely think about.

4. Read a local author

Go to a local bookstore and ask them about their local authors section. Then, pick up a book from someone who lives there. Maybe you hate the book, but maybe it opens a new door for you. Explore a bit. Plus, that author appreciates your buying their book much more than any of the folks on the best sellers list.

3. Make reading a statement

We need reading now more than ever, so be proud to be a reader. Support indie presses, support diversity, encourage kids to read in any way you can, support local bookstores and your local library. In the age of stupidity, every reader is a walking flashlight fighting against the dark.

2. Include your phone in this thing

When was the last time you left your phone at home? Sure, mileage may vary on that front, but most of the people I know usually have their phone with them at all times. As a reviewer, I often ask for PDFs instead of mobi files because I find PDFs easier to read on my phone. You can have a hundred books in your pocket at all times, and you can start reading if you suddenly find yourself stuck somewhere. By making your phone part of your reading life, you can read more and read in more places. You can still check social media, but reading is better than crushing candy or whatever the hell folks are doing on their phone these days.

1. Try something new

Unless you're reading on the bus or at a coffee joint, reading is something you mostly do alone. Try changing that. You can go to a reading if you've never been to one. Read out loud to someone. Pick a book and read it with someone so you can discuss it later (this will allow you to participate in a hundred different book clubs in one year!). Read ten consecutive books by Nobel winners. Read five Hugo winners. Read only gay authors for a month. Read two wildly different memoirs at the same time. The point is that reading is what you make it, and trying new things will help keep you engaged and eager to read more.

So, anyone set their Goodreads Challenge yet?

About the author

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. Y

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