Everybody has that one friend who powers through seventy books in a year. Maybe you’ve got more than one friend who does this, and you’re the friend who doesn’t. Or maybe you are the friend who reads seventy books a year, driven by the knowledge that you—even you, of all people—will never be able to read them all. Reading goals depend on the person setting them, and no goal is better than any other. Most people want to read more, regardless of how much more actually is. Here’s the thing—you can read more and have a better time doing it. So here’s a list of New Years’ resolutions that don’t involve going to the gym.
1. Snag a book from your favorite author’s Goodreads page
Let’s assume your favorite author likes to read—that’s probably part of how they became your favorite author. (If your favorite author doesn’t like to read, maybe pick a new one.) Many authors have presences on Goodreads, but some actually use the site themselves. If you love an author’s actual writing just as much as you love their stories, search their profile for their own reviews and ratings. Chances are, you’ll find a new favorite book.
2. Read a book with friends
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This doesn’t mean ‘read a book at the same time as your friend.’ It means read it with them. Choose the right book (or the right friend) and discuss your opinions, feelings, and reactions with each other. (Note: it still counts as a discussion if the reaction is !!!!!) Set specific places to check in and discuss—after part II, around 100 pages, etc. If one of you pulls ahead, the other will have to catch up before the faster-reading friend gets lowkey pissed. Peer pressure: now offering you more than cheap liquor and ill-conceived high school relationships.
3. Borrow from a friend
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Here’s the logic: if you borrow it, you’ll have to give it back. When you give it back, your friend will ask if you liked it. And if you admit you didn’t actually read it, you’ll probably feel like an idiot.
4. Try a new genre
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“I hate all fantasy. It’s all about swords and elves and fighting. Sometimes,” you say, like someone who has read two fantasy novels, tops, “they change it up and kiss each other.” The elves kiss the swords? If you insist. The point is that, chances are, you dislike a particular genre because of a few unpleasant encounters. Maybe you dislike the ‘classics’ because you’ve never gotten over your whitewashed high school curriculum (not that you need to get over it). Maybe your brain will liquefy if you see another poster for a YA dystopian blockbuster. Just try again.
5. Join your local library
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The cartoon aardvark Arthur said it best: “having fun isn’t hard—when you’ve got a library card.” Many people are surprisingly hesitant to take life advice from an early 2000s cartoon. If the advice is that a teenager can and should catch a murderer via trap-door and pulley system (Scooby Doo), that’s fair enough. This one’s solid, though. Even better, it’s completely free.
6. Find a BookTuber whose opinions you trust
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Here’s some news: YouTube isn’t just a place for pre-teens to make asinine comments. (It’s also for Vine compilations.) You may not be aware that the site has a thriving literary community, with many avid readers recording reviews, reactions, unboxings, and more. The obvious downside is that YouTube can be a bit of a popularity contest, and the top BookTubers to come up when you search might just have the highest-quality cameras or the most colorful bookshelves. Try searching for a review of a book you adore to find people reading the same things as you (regardless of the hits on the video). If you agree with that review, maybe you’ll agree with the others.
7. Try a memoir that speaks to you
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Maybe you assume most memoirs are too dramatic to resemble your life. They’re only for famous people, you think, or geniuses, orphans, criminals—people who are important, or tragic, or so often both at once. That’s a big assumption to make when life is the most dramatic possible thing, and you’re important already because you’re alive. Whether you relate to a writers’ cultural background, sexuality, profession, or even sense of humor, it’s powerful to feel a connection to another person—a person who, this time, is far from fictional. Many audiobook versions of memoirs are actually read by the author, which makes the experience all the more personal.
8. Learn something new
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The difference between a work of non-fiction and your high school textbook is that the former is meant to be as fascinating as possible—while the latter is usually thick enough to inflict blunt-force trauma. Maybe you encountered a new topic on YouTube and want more information than a twenty-minute video can provide. True crime? Scientology? The Roman Empire? The real difference between a work of non-fiction and your high school textbook is that, with non-fiction, you can learn exactly what you want.
9. Pick a destination
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Chances are, you’ve always wanted to go somewhere. (No, ‘to the refrigerator’ doesn’t count.) The destination doesn’t need to be far to be a destination—it only has to excite you. Or maybe you have an upcoming trip to somewhere a little less thrilling. (Off for the holidays to see your estranged aunt in rural Kansas, anyone?) It’s always possible that the sun over the fields will feel more beautiful once you’ve seen it through someone else’s eyes.
10. Develop a routine
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In the ideal world, reading is a little more like this: you’re curled up by a fire with a mug of your preferred warm beverage (cocoa with marshmallows, Hot Toddy heavy on the whiskey), possibly in a sprawling library filled with plants you haven’t managed to kill yet. But you’re not in the ideal world—you’re in this one. Since it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have a day of uninterrupted, peaceful reading, it’s better to carve out thirty minutes to read and drink a cup of tea before you head off to bed.
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