A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
As the new year begins, lots of people make general resolutions. I don’t, because they cause more anxiety, but this year I found myself making a couple regarding reading. First, I’d like to read less Euro-centric books, which happens occasionally now, but I will make more of an effort to do so. And secondly, to read a book by Salman Rushdie, who I enjoy on talk shows and political commentary, but I’ve never actually read one of his books.
With these modest goals in mind, I wondered if any of my fellow readers made resolutions about reading or books, so I began asking around and was pleasantly surprised by the responses.
My fellow Book Foxes chimed in, first Leena “I always like the idea of New Year’s resolutions: partly because the ‘clean slate’ type of feeling appeals to me, and partly because I’m delighted by any excuse to use new stationery. The Book List for the Coming Year is, naturally, another excuse to buy a new notebook – which is what I did for 2015 as well. A cute tiny notebook with tiny pink roses on it, à la Cath Kidston. The very act of writing my to-be-read list in my rosy little notebook makes me feel like a more organised and accomplished person.
My problem is that always seem to bite off more than I can chew, or else I bite into something only to realise I really would have preferred a completely different dish. So if I decide to read 200 books per year, I’ll be lucky if I end up reading 40. If I choose 40, I might read 60 books, but they don’t include the original 40 I had in mind; and at the end of the year I always realise I didn’t even use the cute little notebook as a reading journal, as I’d meant to do.
I should probably have learnt by now that this yearly tradition isn’t working. So why do I always try a New Year’s Book List? I have no idea. It’s like the ‘back to school’ tradition: I always get excited around that time of the year as well, for no rational reason at all. Is it all about the stationery? Are ALL the plans I make in my life all about the stationery? Is my very existence nothing but an excuse to buy new notebooks? I’m beginning to think so.
This year I tried something new, however, to make things easier for myself. I decided I’m only going to read books I already have on my shelves, not buy any new ones. That way, I’m sure to read SOME of the titles in my notebook. Now we’re well into 2015, and I’ve read one book that was originally on the list; started reading three more; borrowed three books out of the library (that doesn’t count as ‘buying new ones’, you know); and bought only five new ones. Doesn’t that sound promising? No, don’t answer that, please.”
Kirsty D. agreed, “While it’s not a new year’s resolution per se, towards the end of last year I was having a pretty major book cull and it prompted me to think about the books I own but haven’t yet read. I’m really very good at accumulating books. I am also very good at reading books, but the problem lies in the fact that the speed of accumulation is much faster than the speed of reading. So, I decided then that I needed to concentrate very hard indeed in clearing some of the reading backlog rather than continuing to acquire yet more. It’s not an outright book-buying ban (for one thing, I have book tokens to spend from Christmas) but rather a promise to myself to practice what could be called ‘mindful book acquisition’ and to finally get around to those books that have been waiting patiently on the shelves… for years in some cases. Now, if everyone could stop writing such interesting books till I catch up…”
Other friends had specific books in mind, Vicki W. “I’m holding back the last Outlander series book so I’ll have it to look forward to…” And Debbie said “My NYR was to re-visit at least one old friend a month. Either an author or a book that I totally fell in love with at some point in my life. For January, I went to my go to author… Alexandre Dumas, but didn’t take my favorite of his works, Count of Monte Cristo. I chose the Three Musketeers…and justified it for myself by saying BBC was bringing on season two of their series. I’ve finished just about half of it and the first episode was on last night. It’s like I’m living in the France of Richelieu all over again and remembering what it’s like to read long, full, deliciously descriptive sentences again! So many books, so little time!!!!”
Guest Fox Marie has an impressive goal, “My resolution is to read novels from as many different countries of the world as I can. I managed 17 different countries in 2014!”
Some told me of websites that encouraged readers to aim for a certain number of books. Kelly B. told me about the one at HarperCollinsCanada. “On January 2, I spent some time on this website and decided to challenge myself and my friends to read 50 books. You can choose your own target – 10, 25, 50, 100 books….As you read books, you add them to your profile.” She has challenged friends to do the same. BrnldGirl named another website, “Each year I do the Goodreads challenge. it is where you pledge to read a certain number of books during that Year. last year I pledged to read 100 books and ended with 101. I was proud of myself. the year before I pledged 75 and read 80. But now that I have gone back to work I only pledged 50 for the year to see how things work out. You can always change your goal if you feel you went too high or too low.”
But Book Fox Hilary warns of the dangers, “I did the Goodreads 50 book challenge in 2013, and felt in the end it was ruling my life, so in 2014 I did nobody’s no book challenge, and did not read as much as I wanted to. So there must be a middle way. I think Leena’s notebook idea might be one to try. ”
A few people told me they had more general goals. Like KittyRambo “Mine was to spend less time on Facebook & more time reading. It helps that my nephew is getting antsy for me to finish the book I’m reading as I promised he could have it.” and Jools “Not really a resolution but I’m trying to read more this year.”
P.J. is thinking of books themselves “My resolution is to clean out the bookcases and donate the contemporary nonsense that has accrued over the years. Purge back down to having just the real good stuff on the shelves.”
There you have it, a nice sampling of just the people *I* know. It will be interesting to see how many of us follow through. Did any of our readers make any resolutions involving books or reading? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
calendar photo from Google, used on various other websites, copyright retained by them.