New Year’s Resolutions for Readers
Expand your reading horizons in 2016!
This story was first published on The Reading Room.
Books are our ways of accessing wider worlds of fiction and thought—which means that our reading lists are among our most important paths to self improvement. So when you’re making your list of resolutions this year, don’t neglect your reading goals! To get you started, here are a few ideas for resolutions.
Get to Know the 2015 Nobel Prize Winner
This year’s Nobel Prize went to a relatively obscure (but very deserving) candidate: Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich. There’s a good chance you haven’t read much by her. That’s not your fault, as most of her work went unpublished in English-speaking countries until she took home the Nobel Prize. But now publishers are scrambling to get Alexievich’s major works published. Grab a copy of Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster or one of her other great works.
Invert Your Fiction/Nonfiction Ratio for a While
You probably have a preference between fiction and nonfiction. Maybe you read five or so novels for every biography you read, or maybe you read nothing but nonfiction. Whatever you usually do, try flipping it for a few months. You’ll find that nonfiction books can be as thrilling as novels, and that novels can be as enlightening as nonfiction.
If You Read Genre Fiction, Give Literary Fiction a Shot—and if You Read Literary Fiction, Give Genre Fiction a Shot!
Plenty of authors have commented on (and celebrated) the eroding distinction between literary fiction and genre fiction. If you’re still reading nothing but fantasy, science fiction, or mystery stories, it’s time to expand your horizons and try out some literary fiction. And if you’re into the highbrow stuff, don’t be a snob: genre fiction has plenty to offer you, too. In either case, you can ease the transition by choosing genre fiction from a literary writer, like Kazuo Ishiguro’s dystopian sci-fi novel Never Let Me Go.
Read a 2015 Prize-Winner
Have you read the most acclaimed books of 2015? If not, finish them up in 2016. The literary world’s major prizes are a great place to find recommendations. This year’s Man Booker Prize was won by Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me won a National Book Award. Be sure to look at the winners of other, smaller prizes too—check out our coverage of the Pulitzer Prizes, Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Stella Prize, and others for more details.
Read Books Written in Languages Other Than English
Even if you read a lot of books from other countries, you may find that books from English-speaking writers still dominate your shelves. Try to expand your horizons and read books from writers who originally worked in Spanish, Japanese, and other languages. You can use author Ann Morgan’s incredible map as your guide!
Read Something You Think You’ll Hate (With an Open Mind)
You know that book you swore you’d never read? The one you made fun of others for loving, even though you never picked it up yourself? Just read it. You don’t have to tell anyone that you did! We can’t promise that you won’t be right about hating it, but we think you’ll take something away from the experience either way.
Re-Read an Old Favorite
How long has it been since you read your favorite book? Choose a book you love that you haven’t revisited in a while, and see how much your experience changes when you read it now. You might be surprised by how differently you view a book years after you read it the first time.
Spend as Much Time as You Can Reading Only Women Authors
Some readers and writers have suggested reading nothing but women authors for an entire year. If you’re not up to that, try a month—or six. If you think that sounds tough, consider how long you may have unwittingly spent reading books from male authors back-to-back. Have you ever gone a few months reading nothing but men? We bet you have. Try the same thing this year with women authors.
Photo of Svetlana Alexievich Courtesy of Wikipedia