resolutions and all that

statue reading a book at Mozart Museum in Prague
statue at Mozart Museum in Prague

I’m terrible at making and keeping resolutions. The first week or two are great, and then it starts to slip. That’s partially why I’m hesitant to articulate them, much less share them with anyone else. That being said, I have made a few promises to myself regarding things I want to work on this year. I have hopes that enough practice will eventually turn the new behaviors into old habits.

One thing I really hope to do more of, and have been working on unsuccessfully for several years now, is to set aside time to read books. And if not physically read them, at least make use of the time I spend in my car or at the gym to listen to them. I used to consume several books a week on summer breaks from school, and even kept up the habit in the working years between college and graduate school. I think it was the combination of graduate school and home internet access that broke the habit.

Last year, I chose twelve books that I planned to read. I made it through six, finished one a day into 2012, and gave up on another. Here’s the list of books read, with links to my reviews on GoodReads:

When I made the original list, it was a mix of books I’ve wanted to read but didn’t own and books that I owned and hadn’t read yet. I thought maybe the list would make me more focused, and only 12 in one year seemed doable. In fact, I read 17 books total last year, just not all of the ones I told myself I would read. About four of the books I read were ones I found in audio format at my local public library, and they were my road trip companions for the Thanksgiving and Christmas pilgrimages to Ohio.

Ultimately, what it came down to, was a mix of feeling like the list of 12 were more like school assignments and less like something I would choose to read, even though I did choose to read them and no one but myself “assigned” them. It was an interesting experiment, but this year I’ve decided to just make the time to read, and leave the material selection up to whatever I’m feeling like or have recently discovered.

Maybe all this resolution making and breaking is a good thing in the long run. Maybe it teaches me more about how my brain works and how to trick myself into making better decisions. Or maybe I just need to turn off the computer and pick up a book.

3 thoughts on “resolutions and all that”

  1. I get what you mean about your list feeling like a school assignment. In the past I have joined several themed book reading challenges that made the rounds of the book blogging community, but the only one I finished was the Spice of Life challenge because the theme was food-related books. In every other challenge, I lose interest in the books as soon as I make it a goal to read them. I find that my reading life is like my music listening: I never make it all the way through a playlist on Spotify because one of the songs will make me think of songs not on the list, so I switch to them. This year, I am going to use my Goodreads TBR list as a starting point but I won’t beat myself up if I end up reading five prairie romances in a row before I get back to the list.

  2. YES you gotta lose the “appropriate book thing” and consume more voraciously. AND take chances and abandon books that are just not working. So just add everything you like to the list…and read what is really interesting. And of course, skim if you need to. NO BOOK REPORT REQUIRED. Some books are maybe not for you  and other books are not worth your time.

    Some of the crew at my library do most of their reading during their commute, via audio. Just a thought.

    1. I’ve been listening to a lot of audio in the car lately (as noted in my post, four of the books I read last year were audio), as I drive around town. My commute is all of 10 min, and for a long time I thought I didn’t have need for an audiobook. Nonfiction seems to work best for being able to stop and start with my short drives here and there.

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