I wasn’t going to bother setting any resolutions this year, reading or otherwise. I think it tends to put too much pressure on and you end up feeling worse if you don’t do as well as expected. I’ve tried doing the normal ones but it never last more than a couple of weeks. So, I just tend to tell myself that I’ll just try and be happier, kinder and healthier. That’s the kind of goal I can work with. I also don’t even really set reading ones. I’ve only been setting myself a yearly reading goal since 2018. Again, I just don’t like the added pressure. I always worried that I would end up reading books simply to cross another number off. However, I found that it has helped me read more, so it’s a tradition that I’ve kept up. Even though I tend to keep my target fairly modest.
Given that I don’t like setting resolutions, you may be wondering why I’ve decided to write a post entitled 2021 Reading Resolutions. Well, I’m about a third of the way through my second read of the year and I can already see myself falling into the same bad behaviour that I did last year. I’ve been madly trying to get ahead of myself so I’m not necessarily paying attention to the book I’m currently reading. I’m already worrying about finishing the two books I need for my reviews next week. Then there’s the fact that I’ve been super close to buying a load of book that I don’t need despite the fact that I’ve imposed a book buying ban for January. I decided that I needed to get myself in line, so I’m writing down a list of goals that I hope to stick to this year. At least if they’re in print somewhere, it might push my into sticking to them. So, what are they?
Read at least 60 books
I guess there’s no real reason to explain this one. Last year I set myself a goal of 50 books and read 93. Some of that can probably be explained by the various lockdowns and shielding. This is the main reason that I’ve gone a bit modest this year. In 2019, I set myself the goal of 50 and read 59. By the end of the year, I’d been listening to an audiobook every Sunday, which really helped boost my numbers. So, using this tactic, I should be able to do 2 books every week but, as we saw this year, that wasn’t always possible. Instead of putting extra pressure on myself, I’m just going fairly standard.
Read more books by BIPOC writers
The one thing that really bugged me about my reading stats for 2020 was my lack of BIPOC writers. I know that I tend to read a lot of white writers but this isn’t something I do on purpose. I very rarely take race into account when I pick a book. I choose a story rather than an author. Unless I am already a fan of the writer, obviously. What I’m saying is, I don’t purposefully mainly read books by white writers but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. We all know that there is an issue with diversity in publishing. BIPOC writers aren’t given the same chances as white writers so they need more support. This year, I’m going to pay more attention to who I’m reading as well as what.
Read more books by LGBTQ writers
In the same way as my attitude towards race, I don’t really pay enough attention to LGBTQ writers. It’s not a thing I mean to do but I don’t go out of my way to find LGBTQ authors. It is especially important that the right people are telling certain stories. For so long, straight people have been writing about the LGBTQ experience as if they have any kind of authority on the subject. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t include these characters but it is also important to let the people who have firsthand experiences tell these stories too. The only way this can happen is if people read them. People like me. I need to do better.
Read more translated fiction
I did much better in 2020 with the number of translated fiction but it still wasn’t great. It’s probably just a lack of awareness on my part rather than a fear of translated fiction. I’ll be honest, I’m not the most active member of the bookish community. I’ve not kept up-to-date with new releases for years now. I used to go through the upcoming releases and write my most anticipated books. Of course, anyone who’s been around for a while will know that I barely read any of them. So, I stopped putting that pressure on myself. As a result, I only know about recent releases through social media or email marketing. This means that I miss plenty of great books. Particularly translated fiction. So, I’m working on it.
Read more genre fiction
I like to call myself a fan of fantasy and sci-fi books because I’ve enjoyed classic examples. However, I am painfully aware that I shy away from contemporary genre books. I’ve read a few over the years and not really enjoyed them enough to continue. Okay, I read a Brandon Sanderson book and was super disappointed. It’s not that I look down on genre fiction but I just find my interest primarily lies in literary fiction. So, that’s what I tend to gravitate to. However, I know that there’ll be plenty of great books that I’m missing out on. 2021 is going to be the year when I move out of my comfort zone a bit more and try new things. I’m looking forward to it.
Read books from my shelves
It’s a common theme in the book community that we all have shelves full of unread books but it’s got to the point where I’m scared by how many unread books I own. I need to get my life in order and start reading them. I’ve had some books longer than I can even remember and I need to change that. Whether it means trying to read them and deciding they aren’t for me or reading them and loving them. I just need to get more of them off the shelves. There is a section of my collection that I won’t ever read though and that’s okay. I’ve not really added much to my vintage triband collection in recent years but I am an avid collector. I don’t tend to read these editions because most of them are just too fragile already. I have so many that are coming apart already that I don’t want to risk them anymore. These are the only books that this is okay for. The rest of them, they’re getting read.
Buy fewer books
It’s not news that I have a bit of a book buying problem. I love buying books. I collect books and it makes me happy. However, I also know that I’m the type of person who uses occasionally uses shopping as a bit of an emotional crutch. If I’m sad or stressed or anxious, I know that buying something new will momentarily make me feel better. This is how I end up buying things I regret. I need to stop this. Starting with books because I genuinely am getting concerned about storage. I need to sort my life out and buying fewer books is as good as place as any to start. I’d love to say I’ll not buy any books this year but I know that won’t happen. There’s no point trying and then making myself feel guilty when I cave. There’s already a new release that I want and several more coming up that I know I won’t resist. I can’t not buy them but I can, at least, put off buying them.
Set aside more time to read
I am very guilty of finishing work of an evening, turning on a streaming service, and binge watching until I go to bed. I might manage to get a bit of reading in but it’s unlikely it’ll be worthwhile. This needs to change. I need to set aside an hour or 2 every weeknight and then time during the weekend where all I do is read. This means getting ahead with my blog posts and any chores I have. It also means setting the mood. Putting my phone out of reach, turning off all other distractions and not lying in bed. I need to get back to enjoying reading and seeing it as a relaxing hobby. Otherwise, I end up panic reading something just to be able to write a review of it the next night.
Pay more attention to what I’m reading
Speaking of panic reading, I need to make sure that I can remember books better at the end of the year. At the moment, I worry that I don’t give reading my full attention. Especially with audiobooks. I tend to listen to them at work so it doesn’t always mean I’m listening properly. Getting into a better routine every night will allow me to focus on one thing and pay attention to the story. It means I’m giving the writer and the book the respect that they deserve. It will also mean that, come the end of the year, I can remember the books I read in January-June without having to look over my Goodreads reviews.
Keep a note of interesting quotes/themes/ideas
Following on from the above resolution, I want to start making more of an effort to make a note of interesting quotations or ideas that come out of my reading. I occasionally do this when I’m reading on a Kindle because it’s so easy. However, I never get round to it when I read a physical book. And there’s no hope of me doing anything with an audiobook. I want to change that because I think it’s always lovely to have a supply of great literary quotes to hand. So, my plan is to get a beautiful journal where I can jot down anything literary based in one place. Again, this should help me focus on the story and help with my memory of the book. When I was at university, I got into the habit of making notes as I read. As soon as I graduated, that went out the window. It’s a shame because I never think about the books I read now in the same way. Hopefully, this can help me become a better reader.
Keep a better record of my reading habits
I tend to just use my blog or Goodreads account to keep a note of what I read, how I rated it, and when I finished it. Towards the end of 2020, I decided that I wanted to keep a better record. So, I created an excel spreadsheet. Well, if I’m being honest, I’ve been wanting to compile a list of all my ratings in one place. I bought a 10 subject notebook so I can dedicate each section to a different rating. Then I’d list the films on one page and the books on another. Eventually, I will have compiled my literary and film bible. Why? My own pleasure. I like the idea of it all being written down in one place as a reference. If I’m ever in need of a film recommendation from myself. When I was compiling the list, I decided to also keep a note of other information about the books I’d read so I could compile my 2020 stats. It’s a good way of keeping track of how diverse me reading is, so I want to make sure I keep it up. I don’t have a good history with things like this though. I have so many part used book journals that it’s just sad.
Don’t rush to finish a book unnecessarily
I guess this has been a common theme throughout a lot of these resolutions but I want to get over the idea that I need to finish a book quickly. If I don’t have something to review on a Monday or a Wednesday then it’s fine. I’ll either write about something else or just postpone to a later date. I have become so set in my routine that it occasionally stresses me out. Of course, that’s insane because I’m the one setting the schedule. I do this in my spare time so why should I let it dominate my life? When I was looking for a job, I’d tell myself that getting this blog in order would be a good way to show how capable I was. Honestly, it might help a bit but it’s not really going to get my noticed. So, why am I still putting so much pressure on myself? I actually have proper marketing experience now so I’m not solely relying on this as I search for jobs. Meaning I can probably start letting my weekly uploading schedule get a little more flexible if need be. Some weeks are harder than others to get motivated. Other weeks are just busy at work. All sorts of things could stop me from getting round to everything and I just need to chill. Blogging is my hobby but it is not my life. 2021 is the year I start putting myself first.