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Book Resolutions for 2020

There's a lot of debate on the value of New Year's resolutions. I actually write my intentions and my goals at the beginning of every month, so the New Year is mostly an arbitrary date for me. However, my reading goals have evolved a lot over the years, and I'm at a place in life where I want to challenge myself and reach for things that are out of my comfort zone. So, here are my Book Resolutions for 2020 (maybe putting them out into the world will help me stay accountable):

1. Read more books by Non-American Authors

This idea crept on me in the last few months of 2019. I noticed that the books I read that were translated from other languages or by authors from other countries sat with me differently. Their stories gave light to cultures and lives that I had never known much about. While I am always trying to understand my own culture and country more, I think it's important to broaden that scope to include more of the world (especially since I am the daughter of a Polish immigrant). There's also something weirdly thrilling about reading a story that has been consumed and enjoyed by people so different than I, making me remember that the core of reading is stepping into the life of someone other than yourself.

My TBR — aka To Be Read — authors include Olga Tokarczuk (gotta be true to my roots), Cixin Liu, Bassey Ikpi, José Saramago, Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita is already an all-time favorite).

2. Learn to put down books I am not enjoying

Weird, I know, but I honestly have the hardest time not finishing a book, even if I despise it. I feel this weird, competitive urge to complete a book, like I'm a better person and reader for slogging through a miserable book just to say I did. This is dumb. There are too many amazing books out there for me to think I need to read every single book I pick up. And for the amount of books I read, it makes no sense to continue on with one if I am not into it. Even if Goodreads and the internet raves about a certain book, I should stick to my gut and put it down if it is not bringing me joy. Also, if I am going to recommend great reads to people, I need to spend the time to find the best books.

3. Read more poetry

This honestly wasn't on my mind for my 2020 Book Resolutions until a few weeks ago. Life hasn't been easy the last few months, and at times I've found myself struggling and looking for comfort and answers. Books are always a great distraction when life is hard, but things have gotten to a point where I need something that will help me heal instead of distract me. I happened to pick up a Charles Bukowski book the other day, and I am so glad I did. Bukowski has always been one of my all-time favorite poets, but now that I'm an adult, his work somehow feels more real and raw. I've never been the biggest fan of poetry but reading Bukowski felt cleansing somehow, and comforting — I felt like someone understood my soul. And honestly, that's exactly what I need right now. I want to have one poetry book in my monthly reading lists.

My TBR poets include more Charles Bukowski, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Rumi, Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Pablo Neruda (since I'm new to poetry, I definitely want to pick up some of the classics), Wisława Szymborska, Nikita Gill, Rupi Kaur.

4. Reread my childhood favorites

Apart from Harry Potter, which I reread every two or three years (duh), I almost have never reread a book. This makes sense since I have an infinite amount of books on my TBR list and have previously thought that there is little value in rereading a book I already read and loved. But as I am getting older, I believe that the books I read and loved throughout my adolescence might bring me new meaning and joy. I'm sure it will include that wonderful feeling of nostalgia, but it might also teach me new things and show me how much I've grown. I don't plan on rereading too many... but ideally a few of the ones that really stuck with my soul.

My TBR reread list includes Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

5. Mindfully choose diverse book content

This is definitely something I have been attempting to do in the last six months or so, but I want to make sure I am held accountable this year. There are so many wonderful, amazing things about reading books, and I've always felt that joy. For my entire life, reading was such a personal passion that I kept close to my heart — it was about distraction, about the thrill of reading fiction, about feeling as though I am living a life other than my own. When times got hard, I picked up a book to make myself feel better, and I didn't feel the need to share that comfort or joy. Maybe it's that this year was personally the most difficult, maybe it's because I turned 25, or maybe it's because my life has just changed a lot, but reading, as of recently, has become something different for me. Now, reading feels bigger than myself. I have this urge to learn more about my country, my neighbors, other cultures, how to better myself, and how to figure out how to make sense of not just my own life, but of the world. I will always find joy and comfort in fiction, it's my reading foundation, it's in my bones. But now, I feel a thrill picking up a book on a topic or written by an author I know little about. Who knows what 2020 will teach me, what books will change my life, and which will become new favorites — I can't wait to see.


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