For many folks, the new year brings resolutions to diet, exercise more, or stop smoking. Book lovers, though, often seize this moment to make changes to their literary life. Here are four resolutions that will make 2023 a happy new year for all kinds of devoted readers.
Read outside your comfort zone. It’s easy to settle into a rut with your reading; you love mysteries, so you just read one after the other. It’s satisfying—but variety is the spice of life, right? Sometimes there are unexpected rewards to reading a book that deviates from your usual fare. My comfort reads will always be literary novels, so this year I’m trying to add more nonfiction to the mix (and not just memoirs, another comfort read for me). Biographies, current affairs, science writing—you never know where you’ll find your next favorite book. Take a chance on something you wouldn’t ordinarily read.
Embrace the slow read. At the beginning of last year, my friend Laurie Hertzel, books editor at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, wrote about her own resolution to read more slowly. “I think that is the most satisfying kind of reading there is—immersing yourself in a book and not coming out until you’re good and ready.” Professional book critics like Laurie, always on deadline, inevitably feel the pressure to read as swiftly as possible. But so do the rest of us in these frenetic times, ruled by the relentless pace of the TikTok feed. Slow down and luxuriate in the details a great book has to offer—it will enhance your appreciation.
Listen to audiobooks. OK, now you’re reading more slowly—but you still need to make progress on your TBR list, right? (Nobody said that your resolutions couldn’t be a little contradictory.) Audiobooks are indisputably the best way to squeeze in some extra reading at times when you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to—while commuting, doing chores, or working out, for example. I usually have two separate reads going simultaneously—one an audiobook, the other a print book. Kindle users swear that Whispersync allows them to toggle seamlessly between the same book in audio and e-book formats, but wouldn’t you rather have two titles going anyway?
Schedule reading time. The same way you set aside time on your calendar for meditation or a date night, schedule some daily reading time for yourself. For me, it’s with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning—even if it’s just 20 or 30 minutes. I find I’m most alert at that time of day, and my brain is at its most spongelike—but some people like to read through their lunch break or end the day with a good book in bed. Whenever and wherever you decide to read, having a dedicated time will help ensure that reading becomes a daily practice. After all, there’s nothing more discouraging than a book read in sporadic fits and starts.
Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief.