Newsletter 1

Our 2017 Bookish Resolutions

Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

One of the best parts of a new year is the opportunity to start fresh—on January 1st even the most difficult resolution can seem reasonable with an entire year ahead. Here’s what some of us at Team Riot are shooting for in 2017. We’d love to hear your bookish goals and reading resolutions; share them in the comments!

Emma Nichols: I’d like to read more deliberately in 2017. This short resolution neatly encompasses a much larger plan to read more diversely (my 2016 reads were way too white), read more new books (as a bookseller, being well versed in what’s new is pretty crucial), and write more about what I’ve read. I’d also like to read more in areas I’m not naturally drawn to—poetry, politics, and plays to name a few.

Elizabeth Allen: I really need to get my act together when it comes to my Gilmore Girls reading challenge. Six years ago, I started reading all of the books referenced in all episodes of the show. I’m only part of the way through season two and have kind of neglected it (and my corresponding blog). I started The Sound and the Fury ::checks out Goodreads… GULP:: ten months ago! Now, I’ve never been confused for a fan of Faulkner’s, but ten months is just ridiculous. I’d like to build in more challenge-related reading time each month instead of having my head turned by all the shiny, pretty frontlist covers. I have a whole blog dedicated to this… you’d think that would hold me accountable! And the fact that we got more episodes this Autumn means that my list just got even longer. GET ON IT, ALLEN!

Anonymous Rioter: In 2015 I read all authors of colour. In 2016, my diverse reading plummeted. In 2017, I aim to read about 50% authors of colour, with at least one book each month by trans authors and one by authors with disabilities.

Jen Sherman: The plan for 2017 is to read more deliberately, and to read harder. 2016 was mostly safe reads, by authors I already knew and loved, and I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted to. Establishing new reading routines after marriage and moving to a new country was unexpectedly hard! So next year, I’m going to do the Read Harder challenge (I already have my book list), read the new books coming out by the authors I love and adore, read some of the books that have been on my ‘to read’ pile for an embarrassingly long time, and get back into some kind of regular reading life. Oh, and I resolve to stop borrowing giant stacks of books from the library that I don’t end up reading.

Claire Handscombe: I’ve read a ton of good American books this year, but realised, to my shameful horror, that I’ve completely neglected my fellow Brits—and that’s probably true of the last few years. I’ll be changing that in 2017! I’ve lived in the US for four and a bit years now and I too often will click on a list of “words Brits say” and realise I used to say some of those words too. The way I speak and write have changed a lot. I don’t want to lose my unique voice or the more diverse perspective that comes from experiencing multiple cultures. I want to seek out news about the Brit lit scene and take part in the British Books Challenge. Also I want to read more backlist—British and otherwise—and keep up my French and Spanish by reading at least one book in each language—hopefully more. 

Ashlie Swicker: In 2017, I will treat my online book club like the treasure it is. For two years I’ve used hashtags, Facebook comments, and blog posts to choose and discuss books with a small group of fellow readers, and when I’m actually following through, it’s so much fun. HOWEVER, when life gets hectic, it’s often the first thing to go. I’ve gotten a head start on this resolution (ugh, I hate that word) by putting out a reader survey and getting responses about what kinds of books the club wants to read and why we want to read (spoiler alert: escapism was high on the list). In 2017, I will follow through on assigning titles and leading discussions, because talking books with ladies I love is pretty much what will get me through next year.

Erin Burba: I have personal and professional goals that I want to achieve in 2017 and—of course—I am reading as much as I can on each of these topics. I have a habit of deciding that I must learn everything about a new subject—giving myself arbitrary homework and deadlines, getting stressed about not meeting said deadlines, and slowly draining my initial enthusiasm about the topic. To that end, my goal is to achieve balance. I want to continue learning in a way that sustains my natural curiosity rather than suffocating it. Also, to read things that make me laugh.

Cassandra Neace: In college, especially in grad school, I was all about Mexican literature. It drew me in, and I sought it out. Over the years, I have gotten away from that. I want to make it a point to seek out new Mexican authors and to spend some time with the new-to-me books of the authors that inspired my original love of Mexican literature. Oh, and I’m going to make room in my schedule for reading, even when I’m busy and overwhelmed. Reading calms me, and I sometimes forget that.

Annika Barranti Klein: I wrote a whole post about my goal to stop reading white authors for a while and read books by POC, LGBTQIA authors, and other marginalized people. A smaller but important goal for this year is to actually finish some books! I left a trail of DNF in 2016 and I’m hoping to do better this year. I also want to read some plays! I’ve put August Wilson on my TBR, something I’ve been meaning to do since I first saw one of his plays in the 90s. My plan to accomplish these goals is to take more time to sit quietly this year and allow myself to do “nothing” with a book.

Alison Doherty: For the last few years, I’ve had the same three reading resolutions: read over a hundred books, read more books from diverse authors, and read more debut novels. Some years I do better than others, but these three goals have definitely pushed me towards better, more interesting and fulfilling reading habits. The other bookish goal I’m adding to my resolutions this year is to rate every book I like on Amazon. It helps authors so much to have certain numbers of Amazon reviews—apparently even bad ratings help. I’m hoping this will give me another way to support the authors I love.

James Wallace Harris: On December 31st I psychoanalyze my year in reading at my blog. I pick my top five reads for fiction and nonfiction, including the two best of each, and then name my book of the year. This year I couldn’t recommend any of the novels I had read. They were good, some very good, but none profound. I had over twenty nonfiction books I loved and would recommend without reservations. So for 2017 I’m on a quest to find novels that set off an earthquake in my soul. Also, I want to stop reading novels just to finish them. For years I’ve averaged about a book a week. My new goal is to read a great book a week. So if I start a book and it’s less than an A-, I’m going to switch to another book from my 1200-plus TBR pile.

Molly Wetta: I have developed this habit of claiming to have read books I haven’t actually read. Totally lame, I know, but hear me out. I work in a public library and do a lot of collection development, so I read reviews of a LOT of books. Sometimes it feels like I’ve actually read a book, I’ve read so much about it. On top of that, I follow the bookish conversations of fellow readers, writers, and librarians online. I’ve gotten to know the taste and preferences of people so well, hearing their assessment and opinions of books helps me authoritatively speak about these books. Which is great, because all that helps me recommend books to people, even if I haven’t read them. Great! But people start assuming that I have actually, personally read all these books I’m talking about.  People will literally gesture at the new books shelf and say “so have you read all of these books?” (I read a lot, but not that much!) I want to reframe the way I talk about books I’ve actually read versus books I just know about and recommend so I’m not constantly lying or letting people assume I read like 4,362 books a year.

Tasha Brandstatter: My only bookish resolution this year is to clear out my physical TBR shelves (as opposed to my virtual one). In the last few years, my buying habits have changed: now I usually only buy physical copies of books that I’ve already read, either from the library or in ebook format. I haven’t even touched most of the books on my unread shelves since I got them, and I’d like to have that space to put books I know I want to keep. There are only about 54 books in the pile, so I would have to read at least one book a week to get even close to my goal. No mean feat! But let’s be optimistic, some of them might be DNFs.

Sarah S. Davis: I love the beginning of the year and the fresh start we get every January 1st. I usually start thinking about the upcoming reading year in September. Last year, my main goal was to read more books that were published that same year, and I certainly did; about half of the books I read in 2016 were published in 2016. But some of my favorite books were from the backlist. This year, I’m going to go where my heart leads me and dig through the backlist. Another reading resolution I have is to read from my Kindle more. I just read so much faster and am better able to focus when I’m reading print on a screen, and my substantial Kindle library will keep me busy forever. Last, I want to do as much as I can of the Riot Read Harder Challenge and the Popsugar Challenge. I think having some parameters will help me discover new writers and new favorites.

Deepali Agarwal: My 2017 reading resolution might seem odd at first, but it’s really quite straightforward: Watch. Less. TV. It’s been a little more than a year since I’ve started my first full-time job, and after 8 hours of work and an hour-long commute, all I want to do when I reach home is plonk myself in bed and stream mindless TV episodes one after the other. It’s not as if I’ve lost my love for books, but TV is just so much easier to absorb when you’ve had an unpleasant day at work, and it’s often more distracting and addictive for me, but it’s made me lose out on valuable reading time. I thereby vow to ditch about half of the TV shows I diligently follow every week, most of which have turned into garbage as the seasons progressed anyway, so good riddance! I’m hoping this will help be read more and read harder this year.

Tara Cheesman: My main 2017 reading goal is  to increase number of books I read and keep better organized notes. If I can accomplish that, everything else on the list should fall easily into place. I’m putting together a reading list—something I haven’t done in years—to make sure I get to all the backlist/older books I’ve been wanting to read. When I had more time I used to enjoy immersing myself in a single topic—reading both fiction and non-fiction books to get a real sense of a specific subject. For example, I’d read a ton of books on urban planning and cities, or about people taking walks, or the Congo region of Africa—completely random things that sparked my interest.  I miss reading like that and am hoping to make time for it in the upcoming year.

Kristen McQuinn: My goals this year are pretty basic. For the Read Harder challenge, I am going to read only books written by women. I’ve already done quite a bit of research for the tasks and feel good about the list I have so far. I also plan to put a moratorium on buying more books for the whole year, unless a favorite author releases a new one. Ha, see what I did there? It’s a sickness, I tell you. But seriously, I have a plan to read the books in my house that are still unread. If I want to read something I don’t own, it will either be via an ARC or something I got from my public library. Because the library rocks!

Rachel Manwill: After spending much of 2016 in a hardcore reading slump, I’ve set some fairly moderate reading goals (complete Read Harder, read 50 books, 50% by women, 30% by POCs), but the underlying resolution behind all of those goals is that if something isn’t working, it’s okay to DNF. I’ve never had problems with DNFing a book in the past, but this year in particular I’m giving myself a lot of leeway and all the permission to put something down I’m not enjoying. Too many times I would extrapolate my inability to finish a book with my inability to focus on ANY books and become mired in bookish doubt. That’s not going to be the case this year. I’m going to take each book as it comes and give myself a break already.