Literary Goals for the New Year

— Kate on

With the New Year upon us, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has “read more books” on my to-do list. This year, though, I thought I’d take it a step further by rounding up a couple of my other literary goals to share with my fellow bookworms—feel free to add them to your own list of resolutions!

Read the Text More Closely

Sometimes, I find that I’ve read a paragraph without really digesting anything that happened. Other times, I skim over characters’ names and just focus on the action. Because of this, I end up missing a lot of the book I’m trying to read, simply through lack of focus.

This year, I’d like to make more of an effort to be mentally present while reading. This will mean actually reading characters’ names, making note of details that seem important, and going back to re-read sections that I may not have fully understood or taken in.

Read One or Two More Challenging Books This Year

I’m the kind of reader who loves easy-to-digest fiction. And to be sure, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with only reading simple fiction—it teaches us empathy, allows to ask questions, expands our vocabulary, and more. But I never feel like reaching for more advanced novels like Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, or Moby-Dick, not to mention nonfiction must-reads like Helen Keller's autobiography, The Federalist Papers, The Souls of Black Folk, Plato's Republic, Frederick Douglass's autobiography, and so on. And I think that this selectiveness is preventing me from developing a broader perspective.

This year, I would like to add some more challenging books to my to-read list and improve my attention span, vocabulary, and more. This will mean reading classics, continuing to read a book even if it feels hard to absorb, and hushing the part of myself that never ever wants to read nonfiction texts.

Ask More Questions While Reading

I often find myself taking the things I read at face value. Only very recently, while reading The Man Who Was Thursday, did I find myself asking questions in order to try and untangle the surreal and confounding turns of events. Having done that, I noticed more pieces of the plot coming together more naturally; I noticed myself making predictions that ended up coming true as well.

Based on my experience, I think that asking more questions while reading will help me get more out of the text. This will mean challenging my own shallower understandings of plot and character in order to help me dig deeper into the text. It will probably also help keep me present while reading!

Read Aloud Once in a While

Recently, I decided to start reading a book aloud with someone else. We get together and take turns reading every other chapter. Having been out of school for quite some time, my abilities to both actively listen and read aloud have diminished. I find myself stammering and stalling on certain words or having to ask my reading partner to repeat paragraphs because my brain accidentally shut off for a couple of seconds.

This year, I’d like to continue reading aloud. I hope to improve my attention and ability to read smoothly—not to mention that it’s a very relaxing activity to do with someone else! This will mean sitting down to read with someone at least once or twice a week and keeping something nearby to keep my hands occupied so my brain doesn’t wander. (I recommend knitting or else playing with a fidget toy of some sort.)

What are some of your literary resolutions? And what do you plan on reading this year? Let us know in the comments below!