Wednesday, 20 January 2016

My 2016 Reading Resolutions

With every new year comes an opportunity for change, for a fresh start. We all anticipate ripping out a new calendar and starting with a clean slate, filled to the brim with renewed promises to be better, that for 99.9% of people, dwindle and disappear. But I am determined to be that 0.1% and achieve some, if not all, of my new year's resolutions. As cliché as it sounds, my year always begins with setting goals for areas in my life which need improvement as evidenced by the preceding year. Each and every single one of my goals is a small step in working towards my 'big picture goals' and becoming the person I want to be.

Last year, my reading life suffered tremendously at the hands of my senior year of high school, but also various other factors, one being a disastrous reading slump (which I have yet to recover from). Reading is a huge part of my life and facet of my personality, and without that, I felt a little lost last year. I want to be myself again, that girl who had an insatiable appetite for adventure through literature. Whose escape from the troubles of everyday life came in the form of tales. In order to achieve this, I came up with a list of resolutions, or goals for the year that will help me fall in love with reading again. Here they are:

Read more of what I want, rather than what everyone else is reading.

In the book blogosphere we are exposed to so many varying opinions of books. Last year it became evident to me that I was becoming increasingly concerned with other blogger's views of a certain book, and found it hard to form my own opinions. Gone were the days when I could simply buy a book in a store based only on its blurb and how it grabbed my attention itself. Every time I found myself pulling out my phone and scouring Goodreads for reviews from my favourite bloggers. Often I'd actually spend hours searching up reviews in advance when I knew I'd be making a trip to a book store. As such, my reading lacked that sense of spontaneity it once held, and I was getting bored of books because I was aware of what would happen, or I was too scared to find out because I'd heard unfavourable things. Reading was no longer an isolated experience for me, and while I love sharing my reading life with others, it no longer feels as immersive. I felt disconnected to what I was reading.

This year I am determined to spend less time intentionally searching reviews, and focus on how the story compels me from its blurb. With that being said, there were also times when I really wanted to read a book, but was scared of what people might think of me if they saw it on Goodreads. Enough of that, I'm gonna read whatever the heck I want. If I know I'll love it, then I'll let myself, rather than have my own experiences be clouded by the judgement of others.

Make reading fun again.

Blogging makes reading feel more and more like an obligation than a recreational pursuit. And while I love both reading and blogging, sometimes I feel its necessary to isolate the two. I'll write reviews of books I want to and if I don't want to then I wont.

Another issue is that I the regular GoodReads challenge of setting a reading goal makes reading feel so mundane. It lacks the excitement and pizazz that I would usually associate with a crap tonne of books. Though yes, I have a numerical goal of how much I want to read, I won't hold myself to it. It is not the be all and end all if I don't reach my goal, as long as I have fun in the process. This is why I've created 2016 Bookish Bingo Challenge again this year, it has a way of stimulating my reading and I feel it far more interactive than the traditional reading challenge.

Read more diversely rather than simply reading more. 

Reading widely is the spice of life, and through it you expose yourself to concepts and themes you may have never even heard about in your everyday life. I want to be challenged and stimulated by my reading material. Where is the fun in simply liking what you read? Books should challenge the norm, and cause you to question reality. Isn't that where the magic lies? In order to read more diversely I want to specifically read more non-fiction books. I love learning, and often I find myself enjoying non-fiction, but other times I fear that they aren't as fun as fiction. I want to learn new content and have it challenge my opinions.

This year I would also like to read more novels featuring people of colour, or minorities such as LGBTQ youth. Though I read a bit of both here and there, I want to expand my horizons and expose myself to new cultures and ways of life. Another thing I've noticed is that the majority of books I read are written by women, so this year I'd like to read more novels written by men. It's not like I intentionally avoided them in the past, it's just that I never really paid much attention to the author's gender and it kind of accidentally happened that the majority of books I've read are written by white females.

Explore different methods of reading.

I've always stuck to the plain old traditional paperbacks, but lately I've been really into ebooks, especially because they offer ease and are less harsh on my wallet. However, I've always struggled with audiobooks, and though in the past they haven't worked for me, I want to change that this year. I want to be more adaptable.

Read more graphic novels and comic books.

I read a few graphic novels and comic books here and there but I feel as they are a rare occurrence in my reading life. I am a very visual person and I feel that images are very stimulating and create a more enriching experience. I think this year my goal is to read one graphic novel or comic book per month, if not, then every two months. 

Do not fear the DNF.

Far too often I find myself not enjoying a book, but (pathetically) attempting to push through it. Often resulting in me letting it sit there and collect dust. These sad situations are often the source of my biggest slumps, and I'd rather not have any more of those, thank you very much. In the past I would have forced myself to finish it simply to get my reading count up, however I've changed a lot and I'm at a point in my life where I don't have the time to tolerate things that aren't making me happy. This isn't only applicable to books, I've been applying this to all areas of my life, and it truly is working. 

Buy less books.

I'm not going on an all-out book buying ban, but this year I am aiming to cut down on my spending. I don't have a stable source of income so often it is difficult for me to buy books at all, so this year I aim to only buy books when they are lower than retail price, and if there are sales or special offers. This might also mean purchasing some books I wish to read as ebooks instead. Also, in cases where I will be buying books, I have imposed a new rule wherein I must read 3 books that I already own before purchasing any new ones. This should significantly decrease my tbr and spending simultaneously.

Track my reading.

Obviously being a user of Goodreads means that my reading is being tracked, however I wish to revert to using my own records also. I used to have an excellent system in which I used a spreadsheet to track my reading, but with last year being as hectic as it was, I hardly had the time to read, let alone document it. I track statistics such as page numbers, dates of publication, ebook or physical, author's gender, author's country of origin, and main character's ethnicity, etc. Not only will it be great for finding statistics on how much I read this year, it will help me to keep track of how I have performed in the resolutions I have listed in this post! 

I am very aware that my long list of resolutions is quite far-fetched, but I thrive on challenging myself, and I know that I can complete some of these. I'll try my hardest, but obviously if some are not completed, I'll have another chance next year! Resolutions aren't about scaring yourself into doing things, and often over the course of a year you adapt, and so will your wants and needs, so if I feel like some of these resolutions are no longer relevant to my goals, I won't actively pursue them. 

Let me know what you thought of this post, I apologise if its a little bit rambly. Do you have any reading resolutions for the year? I'd love to know. I admire the self-awareness and courage that come along with publicly sharing your goals, and I think it's beautiful when people actively challenge themselves for their own betterment. 

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