Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 Reading Goals #1: Reading Broader, Reading Better

Well, we're a week into the new year and it seems like 2017 is happening.  If this is going to be a "thing" that actually happens, it stands to reason that I should make some bookish goals (this is a bookish blog, after all) for myself . . . at least until the U.S. is restyled as Gilead (fingers crossed I'm a Martha, I look terrible in red).

I want to read for fun again and I want to grow as a person because I am a reader.  As bleak as things seem right now, I want to be able to find glimmers of hope.  Rephrase that: I NEED to find glimmers of hope.  Reading has, for most of my life, been one of my primary sources of hope.

The specter of impending doom aside, I have ten reading goals for 2017.  If you read my "deep dive" into my 2016 reading, you will remember that I was displeased with so, so many aspects my reading last year.  Each of my 2017 goals are meant to not only remedy the shortfalls of last year's reads but also broaden my worldview in the process.

In 2017 I am going to continue mood reading.  It is a strategy that has worked well for me historically and, even when I am working from a finite list of works, this approach has given me the flexibility my schedule necessitates.  With this in mind, here are my 2017 reading goals:

One. Read 50 books.  Last year, I originally set out to read 100 books and later lowered my goal to 75 books.  In either case, I found that having such a lofty goal meant that I was gravitating towards shorter, quicker reads.  As a result, I read a lot of books (namely graphic novels), but I wasn't thrilled with what I had read and what I did enjoy didn't "stick with me."  With a more manageable goal (roughly one book a week), I am hopeful that I will choose my reads more judiciously and be prompted to read longer books.

Two. Read at least 17,000 pages.  If I only read 50 books this year, this works out to about 350 pages per book.  Last year, I read just over 14,000 pages with an average page count of just under 200 pages per book.  In 2017 I don't want to avoid reading longer books for fear of missing out on my GoodReads goal.  Screw bet hedging.

Three.  Read longer books (200 pages or more). Not every book that I am going to pick up in 2017 is going to be 350 pages or more; however, I think it's entirely possible that I will be able to consistently read books that are 200 pages or more in length.

Four. Read at least one book from David Bowie's 100 Favorite Books list each month.  Last year, we lost Bowie, one of the most iconic figures in western culture.  Reconnecting with Bowie via a mutually appreciated pastime seems like an appropriate way to sooth the pain of his loss in an evermore uncertain time.

Five.  For each book I read by a white author, read a book by a person of color (POC), member of the LGBTQIA+ community, or by another marginalized or community under threat.  In addition to wanting to expand my worldview, I want to support the work of individuals whose voices are marginalized, particularly in today's political climate.  I'm an avid reader and a book buyer; now, more than ever, I need to make my consumption [rightfully] conspicuous.  If people like me aren't supporting amplifying marginalized voices, who will?

Six. Have at least 30% of my reading be by a POC.  Again, in today's political climate, it is especially important that I am actively listening to the voices of POC, digesting this information, and applying it to my own interactions with the world.  In actuality, I would hope that this figure would be closer to 40%, to be on par with national demographics, but I think 30% is a good starting point.

Seven. Have at least 20% of my reading be by an LGBTQIA+ authors.  Last year, I had a deeply troubling encounter with the depiction of an asexual character in a novel by a straight cis-gendered female author.  At that point, more than ever, the importance of reading own voices literature as it relates to the LGBTQIA+ community became startlingly clear.  I plan on addressing this state of affairs (at least in my personal reading) in 2017.

Eight. Read at least 4 books by authors whose political views are different from my own.  Recently, I was discussing my 2017 reading goals with someone else when they rightly pointed out that, in my quest to read diversely-- by reading POC and LGBTQIA+ authors-- I actually wasn't.  I could very well end up reading diverse authors that reaffirm my a priori assumptions about the world.  As such, I should also make a point of reading books by people on the other side of the political spectrum if, for no other reason, to be better able to argue with them point for point.

Nine. Read more non-fiction, at least 15% of my reading.  I didn't read as much non-fiction last year as I should have.  Again, given the current political climate, it feels particularly important to be better informed on any number of issues.  I can't underscore this point firmly enough, it feels as though the noose is tightening on the free-flow of information and I worry that I won't be able to read ALL THE THINGS before NONE OF THE THINGS are available to me.

Ten. Read the entire, unabridged version of The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  Even before the threat of prison camps for political dissidents stopped being the thing Dead Kennedys songs and liberal "kidding, but not really" jokes I had wanted to read this mammoth quazi-(non)fictional history of the Soviet gulag system.  Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of my favorite books,  however, unabridged hardback copies of Gulag are harder to come by.  Luckily, my mom scored me two of the three volumes in a library book sale and I found the volume I am missing online.  I've decided that this will be my summer project.  If there is a summer.

Anyway.  To 2017!

Read.  Resist.  Repeat.

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