World Book Night

Reading resolutions

I just spotted these great reading resolutions on the World Book Night blog. I have always felt quite guilty about point 1, but now I feel much better!

2013 reading resolutions:

This time last year we made 9 reading resolutions. Some we’ve kept, quite a few we haven’t, but that’s not going to stop us trying with them again! We’ve repeated them below and annotated them with our successes and failures. Is there anything you’d add or change?

1. Give up on a book if you’re not enjoying it. There are too many great books to persevere if you’re really not getting on. Obviously don’t quit after a few pages, give it a little time to settle in, 50-60 is the perceived wisdom (or 1/3rd of the book if it’s particularly short).
– I have absolutely done this this year and it’s lead to me getting so much more pleasure from what I have read. I think it’s now a habit and one I hope will lead to a more rewarding reading life.

2. Give as many books as you read. Obviously as well as what we’re doing on April 23 we’re going to aim to give away at least a book a week, if not more in 2012. Sometimes they’ll be the book we’ve just read, passed on (sometimes they’ll be newly purchased copies of the book we’ve just read as we can’t bear to part with ours!), sometimes they’ll be carefully and lovingly chosen gifts, sometimes they’ll be books that have sat unread for too long and deserve better homes. But whatever they are they’ll be amazing gifts.
– Everyone who invites me to their home now gets a book and pass on as much as I’m prepared to part with from the books I’ve loved reading this year. Plus, regular WBN followers will know how much I’m in love with Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, so many people have received these as gifts from me this year.

3. Read outside your usual choice. We’ve all got particular tastes: subjects, areas and genres that we know we enjoy. But some of our best reading experiences have come from stepping away from the norm and trying something different for a change. So for every book we read this year within our comfort zone, we’re going to pick one from outside it. After all, we can always give up and move on if it doesn’t work out.
– Hmm. This has been an interesting one. I’d say I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone maybe a quarter of the time rather than half. I’m still definitely making value judgements about books without trying them and still being regularly delighted with books I don’t think are my sort of thing when I do try them. Obviously must try harder with this one!

4. Read aloud more often. Publicly admitting that I read aloud to my husband almost makes me blush. I don’t know whether it’s because reading is such a seemingly intimate, private activity or because we associate reading aloud as something we do only to children or the infirm, but for whatever reason it is, it doesn’t feel like something I should admit to doing. But it is brilliant – you get the combined pleasure of reading with the shared experience of discussing it as you go along, like a book club but with instant gratification. I cannot more highly recommend it, start with something short (our first read aloud was Alan Bennett’s Uncommon Reader) and see how you go. No cheating and reading ahead on your own though, that completely ruins the fun!
– I’m still doing this, enjoying it more than ever and really think everyone should. I’m currently reading Wolf Hall to my husband (I know, I’m obsessed) and it’s been interesting as I’d read it before and he hadn’t. It’s almost like taking someone new to a favourite place – I’m loving experiencing it for the first time vicariously through him and getting things from it that I didn’t before. It’s ridiculously long when you read it aloud but absolutely brilliant. We started at the end of November and are now very nearly finished. We’ve both read other things ourselves along side but as we’ve got more into it we’ve abandoned Christmas TV to read to each other instead.

5. Read more. Bit of a given this one, but looking back over my 2011 reading I find that increasingly those odd moments when I would have picked up a book have been filled with emails or twitter or playing games on my iPhone and, to be honest, I feel poorer for it. So I’m going to try to waste less time and fill it with amazing stories and writing.
– I’ve definitely read more this year, but I’ve still finished the year feeling like I’ve wasted more time than I should. Partly this is down to a frustration that I don’t always have the book I’m reading with me and desperate desire not to have to buy it twice in physical & e format. Maybe 2013 will be the year publishers & booksellers get bundling right.

6. Keep a reading diary. The best books, our favourites, mark out our lives. I waited for my sister to come out of hospital aged 7 with The Princess and the Unicorn for comfort, overcame travel sickness aged 13 as I couldn’t stop reading To Kill a Mockingbird, tackled unrequited love with By Grand Central Station I sat down and Wept and knew I’d found my match when he read The Good Soldier and agreed it was the best book ever written. But I wish I could look back at everything I’ve read over the years so I’m going to keep a reading diary so I can!
– This started well, then fizzled out in the middle months. It’s been very easy to track since October as I’ve read all the WBN books (plus a few others as well). But I can’t for the life of me remember half of what I read that isn’t written down. If there’s one resolution I want to keep this year it’s this one.

7. Be completely honest about what you’ve read. Whilst I’ve never out and out lied about having read a book, I’ve been known to give ambiguous answers or nod and smile when discussing a book as if it’s one of my favourites! What does it matter whether I’ve read Wuthering Heights, We Need to Talk about Kevin or Twilight (all on my to read pile)? And I shouldn’t be ashamed to admit that I haven’t.
– All those books are still on my to read pile. Maybe for 2013 I should be completely honest with myself about whether I’m actually going to read something or not!

8. Get over reading guilt. This kind of applies to all of the above. Reading is an incredible pleasure but too often we find ourselves feeling guilty about all manner of things from whether we’re reading enough to whether we’re reading the right books (or what the right books actually are) and almost all of the above resolutions sort of feed this. So whilst we try to read more, read out of our comfort zone, read out loud and keep track of what we read we’re going to remember the cardinal rule: reading is a great joy and whatever we do or don’t do, read or don’t read we’re not going to let any guilt get in the way of us really enjoying our reading in 2012.
– I really took this to heart in 2012. Particularly when 50 Shades of Grey was published and various parts of the media (as well as people up and down the country) decided to debate, again and again, who on earth was reading it, why, and whether they were actually ‘readers’. My thoughts on this are lengthy and not always polite, but they were summarised before the debate started in this resolution. Never let anyone, ever, make you feel bad for what you’re reading. I’m not going to try to pretend that 50 Shades was the best book I read, or particularly life changing, but it was a very enjoyable romp to read over a dreary summer weekend.

9. And last but very much not least, sign up to be a World Book Night giver and help spread and share a love of reading.
– Check. Obviously!

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year then it really is that I’m a creature of habit. The more I read, the more I wanted to read rather than do any of the other habitual things I do to pass the time. So if I can make keeping a reading diary and diversifying my taste more habitual then hopefully these can be things I do for life not just for January! Now I just have to work on the more exercise, less food & drink and spending money habits too…

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