Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Not Too Late for a Resolution

New Year's is past, but it is not too late for a resolution.  It probably will not surprise you that I am about to suggest that you resolve to set a reading goal.  In the past I have written about my Millennium Reading List.  I chose 100 great books published between 1900 and 1999 to read.  Have I read all of the books on my list?  No.  Is that a bad thing?  No, because the list became the source for discovering more and more books I wanted to read.  

The original list was intended to be fiction, but often fiction made me curious about the time period in which the novel was set, and I discovered history books I would not have otherwise read.  Then the history books led me to biographies.  I also discovered authors I admired, and in addition to reading a single book by that author, I sought other books that particular author had written.

The point is that by making a list of books to read it is likely that you will discover more and more books to enjoy reading.  At least, that is my experience.  

I have also written about the decline in reading.  From my perspective, that is a serious matter.  I know that many people now "read" audio books, especially if they have long commutes to work, or their jobs involve repetitive labor that allows listening to a book without hindering their work.  Audio books have their place, but the reader's interpretation inevitably alters the content with every decision about where to place emphasis, the tone of voice to be used to describe characters, or the character's voice used in dialogue.  All of those things and more can alter a listener's response to the book.  Listening to a book is not the same as reading a book, but it is better than not reading at all.

I am a slow reader.  A friend told me that she set her goal for the number of books she wants to read in a year at 50 books.  I could never accomplish that!  If you make a Resolution, do not set yourself up for failure by demanding more of yourself than is reasonable.

First, consider the kind of books you want to read.  For me, fiction is much quicker to read than nonfiction.  A friend of mine loved reading Romance Novels.  I asked her why she enjoyed them, and she said because they are all alike.  For her, they were just a way to relax and escape into an imaginary world.  Those are not really the kind of books for which you need a New Year's Resolution or a book list.  Another friend told me she reads to relax at bedtime.  She might not select books that stimulated her mind with new ideas for her bedtime reading.

If you decide you want to make a reading list of books, here is my advice:  Don't set yourself up for failure by making an impossibly long list or selecting especially long books.  To start, set a reasonable goal, maybe one book a month, or ten books for 2022.  If there is a particular book you know you want to read, start reading it now.  

If you don't have a particular book in mind, visit your local library and ask the librarian for a suggestion.  Before you go, decide the type of book you want to read--fiction or nonfiction, history or biography, a classic you remember from high school or college that you want to read again with a more mature perspective, a book by a particular author you have liked in the past or that you have heard about.  If you have a particular type of book in mind, the librarian will be better able to direct you to something you will enjoy, or at least to direct you to the shelf when those books are housed. If you are fortunate enough to live in a town with a bookstore, ask a knowledgeable clerk for suggestions, but be prepared with the same thought about the type of book you are interested in reading in order to give the clerk some guidance.

Finally, read the first two pages before you buy or check the book out.  Don't force yourself to start off your New Year's Resolution with a book that feels like an assignment.  If you want to be generous to the author, read five pages before you decide, but don't begin your Resolution with a book you are not enjoying.  Maybe later you will want to give a challenging book another chance, but at least start off the year's reading with a book that interests you from the early pages!

Good Luck!  I'll see you next week with some fresh ideas for why we should Resolve to Read!! 

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

I find it hard to believe you are a slow reader. Given the volumes of research you do for your books, especially Isaac's.

My oldest reads trashy romances. I read Ernie Haycox and John LeCarre. I do not get personally involved (well, not too much) when I read them. I have a few hard covers unread and about 600 or more e-books. I read 9 LeCarre books since January 3rd. And will read another 9 before the end of February. Then I will go back to history, which I read to learn and to understand. My knowledge is 10 km wide and 10 cm deep. No idea what to do with it.