As the new year sets in, it’s finally time to start working on our resolutions and pave a path for our goals in 2021. For many people, reading more is a common New Year’s resolution, although it usually becomes one that sits on the back burner, never really reaching fruition. As an avid reader and lover of the written word, I have a few suggestions for finding ways to make that goal a reality and insert reading into your daily life, without it feeling daunting or time-consuming.
The first thing you should do is find books you want to read and pick out the books that excite you. Let me recommend a few amazing novels that I read last year! A book I read for one of my classes last semester, “Open City” by Teju Cole, is a great option for anyone interested in cosmopolitan literature or literature that addresses race and history and how we place ourselves within those contexts. It opens your mind to how we find ourselves, and our identity, in the world around us.
Another book I can recommend is “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” by Stephen King. This book deals with the concepts of death and faith, and how we allow those things to motivate us. It is about a young girl lost in a forest, using her love of the Red Sox to lift her spirits as she attempts to survive the wilderness. I would highly recommend this read to anyone looking for something short and simple, yet thought-provoking. Of course, if you’re more interested in poetry, artists such as Lana Del Rey, Halsey and Florence Welch published poetry books last year that all encompass brilliant topics, particularly from the female perspective; all are captivating collections.
Personally, for the upcoming year, I am attempting to incorporate more works by authors of color into my reading list, as well as a variety of fiction and nonfiction. I’m most looking forward to reading “On Writing” by Stephen King and “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman; the former speaks to my own passion for the craft of writing, and the latter is written by perhaps one of the greatest magical-realist authors of all time. It is important to pick books you like, or are enthusiastic about reading. You shouldn’t pick books simply because everyone else likes them or continue reading books you aren’t into because, of course, at that point you won’t want to read and completing your goal will become harder.
The first tip I can give you when it comes to approaching a yearly reading goal is to avoid specific numbers. Setting a very specific numerical goal, say 30 books in the year, is a quick way to set yourself up for either failure or limitation. This does work for some people, but for the most part, this is far too specific of a goal to apply to an entire year. I would start with something more qualitative, such as reading a few books by female authors. You could also break your year down into chunks and maybe try reading three books during this semester. These goals become much more approachable and flexible as the year progresses. My personal goal is to read around one book each week during the semester, then re-evaluate once I reach the summer. The most important part about setting goals is that they are flexible! You don’t want to get discouraged right away when you fail to read three books in a week, like you originally planned; so, set yourself up for success by creating achievable and reasonable goals that are kind towards yourself.
Once you have an idea of your goal, try to carve out a specific time during your day to read. Most people know exactly when they’ll have downtime, or when they have a break between classes, so make that your designated time to pull out a book, and it will easily become a habit. As you’re reading, whether it is for enjoyment or for class, I cannot stress how important it is to read with your finger running along the page. I know that sounds rather elementary, and you might feel a little silly doing it at first, but your eyes do not naturally stay in one spot. They move around as you read, causing you to reread lines you’ve already read or lose your spot on the page. Using your finger will help keep your eyes moving along the lines, allowing you to read faster and focus on what’s in front of you.
Just remember to always be kind to yourself, focus on enjoyment more than the goal and experiment to find what works best for you. Best of luck with your reading!