5 Easy-to-Keep Resolutions
- Alice Stephens
- December 31, 2015
Make 2016 the best year ever, bookworms!
Oh, hello there. I didn’t see you moping in the corner. What’s wrong? You say you’re struggling with your New Year’s resolutions? Let me take a look. Hmm, I see the problem. This year, what about making New Year’s resolutions that can be kept? Ditch the unrealistic promises to fit into those jeans that you deliberately bought two sizes too small as incentive to lose weight, to stop bumming cigarettes after a few too many drinks, and to stop drinking before a few become a few too many.
Doing your bit for world peace? Come on! Let’s be realistic.
The trouble with New Year’s resolutions is that they emphasize one’s shortcomings, lack of willpower, and unhealthy habits. Why not disrupt the paradigm this year and focus on something that you love to do and to which you dedicate many of your leisure hours? I can see by that intelligent gleam in your eye that, like me, you love books.
So, here are some practical resolutions that take the struggle, negativity, and guilt out of New Year’s resolutions.
- Read at least one book outside your preferred genre. Two years ago, I read literary fiction almost exclusively. As I gorged myself upon novel after novel, I began to feel like a gouty King Henry VIII, feasting only on thick, red slabs of richly sauced meat while ignoring all the other dishes at the splendiferous banquet. So, in 2015, while continuing to get my main sustenance from novels, I also helped myself to healthy servings of other genres. I read a number of nonfiction titles, from stiffly worded university-press fare to pop history. I sampled art books, biographies, and sociological studies. I dabbled in mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, and urban fantasy. One of my favorite books of the year was Fun Home, a graphic novel.
- Shop at an independent bookstore. After doing all that it could to destroy the neighborhood bookshop, Amazon has recognized that booklovers like to browse actual books, and opened a bookstore. Here in the greater metropolitan Washington, DC, area, we are blessed with a number of fantastic independent bookstores, from the iconic Politics and Prose and Kramerbooks, to the proliferating Busboys and Poets and the newbie Upshur Street Books. The suburbs harbor Arlington’s One More Page Books and Frederick’s Curious Iguana. Go to a Barnes & Noble if you must. Or save money, be green, and give deserving books a loving second home by shopping at a used bookstore.
- Support your local library. The good news is that there are more public libraries than McDonald’s in the U.S. The bad news is that we spend nearly triple the amount on candy than we do on libraries. Instead of spending less on candy, do more for your local library! Donate saleable discards from your shelves for the library to sell. Attend a free reading, lecture, or event hosted by your library. Volunteer to work at the library, serve on an advisory committee, teach literacy or English as a second language through a library program, or participate in a community-outreach initiative. Simply check a book out from the library and declare this resolution resolved!
- Attend an author reading. Washington, DC, consistently ranks high in the annual rating of most literate cities in the U.S. Also, it is only a short Acela ride away from Brooklyn, from whence the majority of touring authors hail. At any given time, there is an author reading or lecture at a nearby university, bookstore, library, think tank, museum, national organization headquarters, historical institution, etc. Many of these events are free. Oh, and readings by celebrities like Ethan Hawke, Drew Barrymore, and Jesse Eisenberg don’t count.
- Donate to the Washington Independent Review of Books. The Independent publishes a book review each weekday, covering everything from the latest blockbuster of a bestselling, brand-name author to an esoteric history published by a small press. And since this is Washington, political tomes of all natures, from biographies to policy, get lots of attention. Not to mention poetry! Plus young adult, cookbooks, translations, scintillating author interviews, must-read blogs, penetrating think pieces, and information on upcoming events, all brought to you by a dedicated and passionate crew of booklovers. Let’s keep the magic alive!
Feeling better about 2016 now? Good! Throw that old list on the crackling fire, and let us have another glass of champagne and more figgy pudding. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we read!