Our Reading Lives

Making Reading Resolutions as a New Parent

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My reading resolutions for 2017 were the most focused resolutions I had ever made. I wanted to read more diversely, complete two reading challenges (including Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge), and read a hundred books.

I failed most of them. I did read more diversely, with about a quarter of all books read being by authors of colour, which was a huge step up from previous years. But I did not complete either reading challenge, and I only managed 77 books.

I am okay with missing the goals, though. The main reason I missed them was because I had a baby in October. Furthermore, she arrived three weeks early, so the final sprint I had planned on using for crossing off books before the baby arrived was completely lost. And then I had hoped that after the baby arrived, I would still carve out reading time. After all, babies sleep a lot, right?

So it turns out that newborns do spend a lot of the day sleeping, but what I hadn’t realised was that even if I wasn’t holding, comforting, or nursing a baby, I would feel too tired to read. For the first few weeks, if I was presented with the option for an hour to read or an hour to nap, I chose to nap. I loved reading, but I loved sleep more.

Many Rioters are also parents, and there have been numerous articles written over the years on reading as a parent: What Happens to Reading When You Have A Baby, How To Read After You Have Babies, Have Babies, Keep Reading. I feel hopeful and encouraged that having a baby does not mean the end of reading. But it does mean that reading will change.

And so I approached my 2018 reading resolutions a little differently. There is no number this year. There is no reading challenge. The main resolution is just to read. Since my daughter was born almost three months ago, I have read six books. These included political memoirs, crime fiction, and chick lit. What these books had in common was that they were all easy-to-read page-turners. None of them were dense or complicated, and all were compelling reads that keep you reading well past your bedtime. Realistically, these are kinds of books I will have the most chance of finishing as I figure out this whole parenting thing and how to carve out time where I am a person and not just a milk factory. I will not be trying to read all the award winners and nominees, nor attempting to tackle lists of books that various literary organisations or websites think I should read.

The reading goals for 2018 as I figure out how to combine being a reader with being a new parent therefore look quite different to last year’s. Reading diversely remains something I will try and do. Reading with my daughter has become a new priority (and perhaps some day soon she will move on from Spots and Dots to books that have words). And the resolution that is most important: Just reading matters more than the number of books read.