Tonight is New Year’s Eve, which means that your facebook newsfeed is currently saturated with New Year’s resolutions. People pledging new diets and new attitudes—all with the purpose of bettering themselves. Although I am all for personal improvement and goal making, I have always been slightly cynical about resolutions because they tend to be big, hard to maintain goals. Flipping one’s life around the exact minute the clock strikes twelve is tough, but not impossible. However, for me I always felt that I could only maintain a goal if it was very targeted. My goal would focus on one subject, so I didn’t have to overhaul my entire life in order to become successful with it.
Those targeted goals are what led me to creating this book club. I wanted to read more, and I wanted others to read with me. It only required me to focus on the “targeted” subject of reading one hour a day, and the rest of the 23 were mine to live as I did. That targeted focus allowed me to keep up with the NSBCBC, and it also made me realize a few things I’d like to strive for as a reader. And so, here are my 3 Reader Resolutions for 2014.
1. Accept that you will not love every book.
To be completely honest with you, I could not get through “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.” I’ve been pretty mad at myself about it too because I made it a NSBCBC book! When I first heard about it, it sounded so interesting and seemed like it would be a great fit for me, but unfortunately it wasn’t. That’s not to say it’s a bad book. It’s well written and at times I did find it really interesting, but for where I am in my life, I didn’t connect with it the way I hoped I would.
Maybe one day, I’ll pick it up and try again, and maybe then it will be what I need. But for now, I have to learn that it’s completely OK to put a book down if it’s not working for me. True, we read for knowledge, but we also read for fun, and if it’s not fun, move on to another book. That book will always be there for you when you’re finally ready to give it another go.
2. Be true to your opinion, even if others disagree.
I loved “The Night Circus.” I know I’ve said that before, but I really enjoyed the hell out of that book. However, a friend of mine told me that her roommate thought it was “the worst book ever written.” I was shocked. Could she possibly be referring to the same book? My perfect little night circus—the book that transported me to a world of beauty and mystery and love—terrible?!
My initial reaction was to feel embarrassed to have loved a book that was so hated by this person. When I love a book, there is no hiding it. I get completely wrapped up in it and laugh and cry and feel so much for the characters. But when I heard that this person hated it so much, it made me feel like maybe I threw myself into something that wasn’t that great. Then 5 seconds after I had that scary thought I snapped out of it and decide to stand by my love-filled opinion for that book.
As a reader, I think it’s important to speak honestly about our experiences with the books. They have a way of connecting with us more than TV or film because we actively participate. We paint and construct the scenery, we give the characters faces, and we give a characters’ voices sound, all with our minds. We meet the authors in the middle and use our imaginations to fill in the blanks, making it a more personal experience. Because of this, maybe it’s a bit harder to share an opinion about a book with an audience of people who disagree, but those are your thoughts and feelings, and who is to say they are wrong?
3. Open yourself up to new subjects and genres.
A few years back I decided to pick up the Anthony Bourdain memoir “Kitchen Confidential.” I didn’t know much about his travel shows, I didn’t know anything about working in a restaurant, and I wasn’t much of a cook. So why pick up the book? I picked it up because I knew NOTHING about his world and experiences, and I wanted to learn about them. Had I not picked up that book, I wouldn’t know when not to order fish at a restaurant, how much of a badass Bourdain is, and how much I enjoy reading about chefs. In fact, reading his book made me want to read “Blood, Bones, and Butter” because I wanted to get back into the kitchen…or rather the literary kitchen.
When we open ourselves up to new authors and genres, we open ourselves up to new worlds. As I realized two bullet points ago, you may not love every new thing you read, but there is a chance that you will, so why not take the risk?
I will try to keep these reading resolutions in mind as I continue to tackle my targeted reading goals. I hope you do the same.
Have a happy and healthy new year!
Happy reading, not so book club book clubbers!
– Nina Sclafani