Goals? Wishes? Desires? Orientations?
I’m not sure what to call these things. My reading life has struggled for the last few years, for a number of reasons. Personal loss, the demands of my PhD program, the insanity of the last few years, getting married and just having less reading time (which I’m certainly not mad about!). I feel like this year, and especially the first six months of this year, are going to be an opportunity for me to course-correct a bit.
For various reasons (burnout being one of them), I’ve taken the semester off my PhD program. As a result, I see this coming six months as a chance to re-learn my reading self. What do I actually like? What will I read with no other demands on my reading time? For the last few semesters, I’ve struggled to finish the books I’m supposed to read, and reading anything more complicated than kid lit or romance in my spare reading time has felt like a chore.
I have a few – lets call them orientations – that I’d like to shape myself towards in the coming year. I don’t want to call them goals, because I want to pressure myself as little as possible.
Read fewer (or no) romance novels. While I may read a few by authors I really enjoy, this genre as a whole has been feeling stale and I’m losing interest.
Find new authors/stories. I really haven’t had the time to do much work to dig up new-to-me authors, but the ones I did stumble across last year were so helpful. I’m especially looking for writers who produce good stories with low stakes — you know, not the edge-of-your-seat kind of tale, but the one where you know from page one that everything is going to be fine. Mercedes Lackey and Patricia Wrede did that for me last year; I hope to find more this year. One of the biggest things that has made reading a challenge in the last couple of years is that I really can’t stomach a *dramatic* book, which feels like most fantasy and adult fiction that has been published recently. You know, the kind of story where people say “this was so good it ripped my heart out.” No, thanks.
Gently return to classics. It’s been so long since I read a classic just for fun. The days when I picked up an 800 page Dickens and plodded along with it for a pleasant month seem hazy and distant. Even in the summers, I just haven’t had the reading energy to try; when I do, the book ends up languishing. Now that I’m temporarily freed from any obligation to read classics, I’d like to eventually start picking up whatever I feel like reading, and actually finish a few classics this year. I hope that doing this will help me gain some momentum with these more challenging books, so when I get back to my exam reading later in the year it will feel more natural, and less like a chore. Also, I just miss reading good classics! I have a number of books already, just waiting to be read, so I’ll probably pull from there. Just, whenever I feel like it. No pressure.
Write about books more. Again, with school, I’ve struggled to write anything, even what I’ve been required to write. I hope this blog can be a place where I can pop in, whenever I feel like it, no pressure, and share some thoughts, if I ever start having those again. Or maybe I’ll start with reviews. Who knows? I would like to get in the habit of putting words on the page again, of feeling that loose flow when you are really in the zone. I miss that.
If you have any suggestions for books or classics that are fun, well-written, and low-stress, I’d love your suggestions!
What are your reading goals/orientations for 2022?