5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Reader in You
Happy New Year!
After the holidays, I’ve added at least one more shelf worth of books to my home library. Every year, I ask for Barnes & Noble gift cards–though there are plenty more gifts I would enjoy as a reader, writer, and instructor. But, what can I say; seeing books inspires me to write my own (though, they don’t exactly inspire me to read them…). Anyway, with all these new books, I need to step up my reading game. I’m sure you do, too.
Just like we did last year–every year, really–we need to identify resolutions to better our lives as people and readers. The thing is, though, that we have to actually carry out those resolutions with tangible steps to increase success.
How do you increase success in reading? Like, don’t you just…read?
Well, one, that isn’t easy for every reader for a myriad of reasons. And, two, there’s more to being a reader than just reading.
Of course, there is… *rolls eyes*
We all grew up hearing: “to be a good reader, we have to read.” While this is true, being a “reader” is just as complicated as being a “writer”. Or, anything else for that matter. As much as we want it to be simple, what makes us people will always be more complicated than what makes us human. There’s always another layer. And, as readers, that should be the ultimate common sense.
But, I digress. Very similar to my writer resolutions, here are five reader resolutions to keep you learning lifelong.
1. I will challenge myself to read more.
Of course, readers are going to read. It’s impulsive; we need to read. Though I don’t get the urge often, when I do, it’s overwhelming. And, in our day and age, there are so many ways to engross ourselves in stories. YouTube narrations, audiobook subscriptions and apps, eBook subscriptions and apps, online articles and story databases, libraries, bookstores, you name it. There is no reason not to be reading!
With so much literary access, it should be a breeze to get through our TBRs (to be read lists). Yeah, it can be difficult to find time to hold and read a traditional book; but, reading is a mental activity, more than a physical action. So, if you’re busy, audio stories may be better for you.
2. I will read things outside of my preferred genre and “comfort level”.
Considering how easy you can obviously access these stories, it should be easy for you to find free stories you never would have tried before. And, because it’s free, if you don’t like it, there’s no guilt about spending any money.
Whether you spend the money or not, you should make sure you read things you have possibly avoided or expected you would read. Hesitant to enjoy something new, it’s important to expose ourselves to different perspectives on culture and society. Reading lets us live many lives—ones we want and others we don’t.
3. I will maintain a journal to track and reflect on my reading patterns and goals.
I’ve kept a reading journal since 2016 and I love it more than anything. I’ve invested lots of time into it over the years, and it really encourages me to read more. Though I may not always get around to doing this reading part, my desire to add more to the journal holds me more accountable.
Like I mentioned in the writer’s resolution article, there are many clinical benefits to keeping a journal or diary. So, on top of reader accountability, it helps you to be a better person altogether.
Check out how I do my various journals if you need a little help figuring it out.
4. I will participate in book communities and clubs, when possible.
An excellent way to get you completing your other reader goals is by making your reading more social. Historically, reading is hailed as an “introvert” or solitary activity–just like writing and studying. However, recently, reading as a social activity has proven to be more engaging and impactful for participants.
As a teacher, I read to my high school students because I can see an immediate difference in their interest and subsequent story understanding. People are more likely to talk about a story, ask questions, visualize, research, and connect with the story.
Outside of the classroom, you can accomplish a similar engagement with physical and digital book clubs and communities. Talk to other readers and get recommendations; love and hate your reading while connecting with other like-minded people. There are lots on almost every social media profile.
5. I will practice my reading skills outside of traditional texts.
Reading is perceived as interpreting words on a page or screen written by others. But, really, reading is a set of skills and cognitive understanding beyond that. We are constantly reading–more non-words than words–in our lives. You “read” body language, you “read” images, you “read” actions, everything. When you read, you decipher, comprehend, interpret, and depending on your reading goals, you may analyze, evaluate, or create beyond that. This can be done on anything–and you should be.
Improve your “reading” skills, and find more stories, by practicing with movies, music, art, even games! Being a writer myself, I actually “read” movies and games as a writer and evaluate what makes a “good story”–to make myself and others better writers. It really does help, and you can see what I mean in any of these posts.
So, I can’t just read anymore? I have to be doing something complicated all the time?
Well, do you like reading, or are you a reader?
Doing an activity and identifying yourself with it can be very different. None of this is required but most who pride themselves in their readerhood do more than just read texts. We make it part of their world and life; we interact with it in non-traditional ways. When you truly enjoy something, you want to make the best of it, and these lifestyle goals, in my experience, can help you do that.
So, what do you think? Do you think there are any other goals to which readers should aspire every year? What are your goals for your readerhood this year?
Let us know in the comments and on social media when you follow me for more inspiration.