When it comes to sticking with reading resolutions, I have a poor track record. I begin with the usual high aspirations, laying out a plan that will surely set the foundation for a glorious reading year. But what does Late-December-Me know that allows him to determine what May-Me should be worried about reading? So I want to read something different but I feel guilty leaving my goals by the wayside. The goals become hurdles that hinder all of my reading.
At the same time, I love sitting down to take a long look at what I’d like to read in the future, before my time to read comes to an end (hopefully many years from now!), and reading goals have led to some of the most meaningful reading experiences of my life; 2016’s reading resolution got me to finally read Middlemarch, for example. Last year, fully involved in reading for the Best Translated Book Award, I didn’t even stop to think about other goals for 2017, and I do feel like I missed a step. Here I sit, then, once again on a late December night as the year winds down, and I can’t help but think about the year that’s been and the potential of the year that’s about to begin. I’m excited to read in 2018! I want to begin my year with some reading intentions, if not reading goals.
Before I go there, though, I want to mention another, tangential goal, one that will be, I hope, more transformative if I can make it work. Here it is: I want to enjoy the Winter months. It’s been years since I truly enjoyed the months of January to March. It’s not that I am miserable during these months; I just prefer for them to be over and, consequentially, do not take the time to enjoy the time that is passing. The snow, the cold, the short days . . . ugh! But why not, if I can, try to find the virtues unique to these months, and learn to love them, and, therefore, love to be with them? If I can, let me enjoy the journey through these days. There are aspects outside of reading that are vital to this: early to rise, exercise, soup, family time. And there is the reading. I think books are an answer, too.
So here are my winter-specific intentions:
- Read one long book. It’s a long season. Why not enjoy a book that takes a long time to read, a kind of gift to myself to help me endure the season? I’ve cheated a bit here and have already started the book I have in mind. It’s not the type I write about on The Mookse and the Gripes often if ever. It’s a fantasy book, the first of a trilogy: Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. I started this one mainly to help me out with a future podcast episode, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve really been enjoying it. And because I’ve been enjoying it, and I have called it my winter book, I’m hoping that winter gets a bit of love by association. At 722 pages, it should take me a while, and its sequel is quite long too. The third book still isn’t out, so I guess I’ll be able to be part of the excitement.
- Read a book that reminds me of seasons and the passage of time. This may include a book set in, say, spring. It may seem counterintuitive to read books set in spring in order to enjoy winter, but I think it may be necessary. Let me know if this is just going to set me up for disappointment. I’ve got a couple of NYRB Classics in mind: Elizabeth Taylor’s A View of the Harbour and Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April. I’m open to other suggestions!
- Read a crime novel. I am not sure what one to put here, but I’ll be looking, so feel free to recommend one. I’d love one set in the winter months, and if that one also comments on the season or the passing of time, all the betters (I won’t count it toward the intention just above.
Those are the main ones for winter, but I have some more for the year:
- I want to read at least one book by Willa Cather. This past year I read her debut, Alexander’s Bridge, and I remembered how much I love this author. I have some significant blind spots when it comes to her work, but I also want to reread the ones I’ve read. I want to start working on that.
- I want to read Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. I started this a couple of years ago, and I was loving it when, for some reason I no longer remember, I stopped and then didn’t pick it up again.
- I want to read more George Eliot. I’ve read only Adam Bede and Middlemarch, but I have Scenes of Clerical Life and The Mill on the Floss on my bedside table.
- More early Javier Marías! I’ve got most of his late stuff covered, but I still have to read some of his earlier novels (the ones I’ve read have been wonderful).
- More NYRB Classics. I have a lot of these that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. I need to re-categorize them; they are now in my snowy day, cloudy day, sunny day . . . any day pile.
I think that is doable and sufficiently general! I have a year of podcasts planned as well, and that will direct some of my reading. New releases will certainly fill out quite a bit. And then there are all of the whims.
Happy new year to you all! I hope that whatever you read, wherever you are, that the new year has wonders in store.