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How to Prepare for a New Year of Reading

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Sarah Ullery

Staff Writer

Sarah suffers from chronic sarcasm, and an unhealthy aversion to noise. She loves to read, and would like to do nothing else, but stupid real life makes her go to work. She lives in the middle of a cornfield and shares a house with two spoiled dogs and a ton of books.

How do you prepare for a new year of reading? Do you prepare? Do you make lists? Buy new books? Get rid of books? Start a journal? Turn to Goodreads? Set a goal?

Well, dear readers, here are a few of my reflections at the beginning of a new year:

Buy a journal

Or two journals, or three. Who knows? What are you supposed to write in a journal? Lists. Lists of what? Books you want to read? Books you’ve read? Other things beyond books, like quotes? What kind of journal should you buy? What are these bullet journal things? Do you need new pens? You will lose new pens. You feel like a bullet journal will require a lot of organizational skills that you don’t possess, but you want to try anyway. New year, new you.

Notebooks of the past, present, and future

Create a spreadsheet

You’re a dedicated user of Goodreads, but beyond that you’ve kept no records of the books you’ve read or intend to read. You used to use a notebook, but as the booklist numbers started to creep into the thousands you gave up, and now rely solely on Goodreads. What would happen if Goodreads went away? You’d have no record of your reading. Plus, spreadsheets look so nice, and it’s fun to organize lists, so why not give it a try?

Update your Goodreads shelf

Goodreads is too important to let it go, and it’s also way too convenient. So, like in previous years, set up a 2018 reading list. First, pick out those books that got away from you in 2017 and add them to the new list. Next, what new releases do you want to read in 2018? Also, make sure to include some rereads. You’ll update this list throughout the year, but it’s always good to start a new year with a new list.

Set a goal

To set a reading goal, or not to set a reading goal: that is the question. Last year your goal was to read 120 books, which you realized in October was not feasible, so you edited it down to 100 books. But why? Who cares? You care, but why do you care? It causes anxiety. If one month you’re only able to read one book, Goodreads will let you know how far behind you are on your reading goal, and who needs that kind of pressure in their life? Maybe you’d read better if you could read whatever, whenever.

Rearrange your bookshelf

Okay, it’s time to tackle all those TBR books that have accumulated on your bookshelf, so clear off a shelf, and prioritize. What books have been on the shelf the longest? Are there books you have no inclination to read? If so, then pack them nicely in a box to give away. Arrange the remaining books by series and genre, so they’re easier to find. Now that there’s space, start creating a shelf specifically for 2018. Make an assortment of choices; keep in mind mood, so include slim and thick books. Also, make sure to include romance, because you know that’s your brain candy and no matter how hard you try to break the habit, it’s not a habit worth breaking, so be kind to yourself.

The Land of Forgotten Books

Participate in book challenges

Find challenges to participate in: yes or no? Probably, no. You’ve done challenges in the past. Completed challenges in the past. But did you find fulfillment in completing those challenges? The best reason to participate in a challenge is to read outside your comfort zone, which might be a sound enough argument for the yes column, but then again: pressure! Reading is for enjoyment, and if it falls outside the zone of enjoyment, why would you ruin one of the few things that allow your brain to feel less pressure?

Buy new books

Yes, you’ve just packed up a bunch of books to give away, and now there’s space, OR a gaping hole? And how do you fill a big gaping hole? Well, with more books. It’s time to update your reading. There are not enough books in translation on your shelf, definitely not enough diversity, and there are absolutely no romances, which is a big crying shame because those risqué covers would really add some panache to your shelves.

Get your library borrowing under control

Librarians are talking: that girl with the books must be stopped. She comes in here with her bags, and she tosses a pile of books into the return slot, then scavenges our shelves like a desperate looter. Other people need books too! You feel a little ashamed, but you can’t break the habit—so many new books; how do you just turn away? Most of those books you take home you won’t read, so it’s turning into a hoarding situation. Get yourself under control!

Allow yourself to buy hardbacks

Your shelves are full of used paperback books, which are totally okay, but it’d be nice to have a good display shelf too. Those hardbacks are so nice and pretty, and it’s so fun to break those spines (did you just shudder?), allow yourself, every once in a while, when you’ve got a few extra bucks in your bank account, to buy a new hardback.

Pick the first book of the new year

It’s important. What will be the first book to go on 2018’s finished list? It sets the tone for the whole year. Last year you started with a romance, but this year you want to start fresh. One New Year’s resolution is to read more books in translation; also, to read thick books again, so find a book that fits these criteria, and start reading your booty off, ’cause it’s gonna be a helluva year!

So in conclusion: The first book of the year will be Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan. I can’t wait to read it, and many other wonderful books this year. I hope you have a great reading year!