Happy New Year!
Hope springs eternal, at least when it comes to readers and our books. When we discover new (or new-to-us) titles on social media or through podcasts or simply browsing the shelves in a bookstore, we get all excited about a new experience we’ll get to have … just as soon as we get through that other stack of unfinished books sitting in the corner (or on the nightstand, or covering the floors…).
I like to take a bit of time at the beginning of each new year to stop, take stock of what I’ve been reading for the past year, and jot down some hopes and goals for the new year. Sometimes that’s a number of books I hope to read—yes, that can be an arbitrary measurement, but setting a goal like that is one way to encourage a daily reading habit. Sometimes that’s a particular genre I hope to read more. Or it could be some specific titles that I’ve had on my list, and I’ve decided this is the year I’m finally going to tackle it.
Here, the GeekDad and GeekMom writers share our reading resolutions for 2022—may your year be filled with good books!
Jonathan H. Liu
One of my hopes this year is to stay ahead of my book pile—not just by reading, but also by being more selective about what I keep. I won’t lie: it’s so much fun when publishers send me new books. They’re good at their jobs, too—each book usually comes with a letter from the publicist describing the book in a way that makes me think it’ll be my next favorite book. But I’ve been doing this for over a decade now, and it’s time to admit that I simply can’t read everything I’m sent, let alone books that I pick up myself because I’ve heard about them from somewhere else. (And anyway, if I did somehow magically get through my entire pile, there’s always more on the way.) So I have to be more selective, and be okay with reading a fraction of these books and letting go of the rest.
So how do I decide which ones? Well, I hope to have a mix of books from authors I’ve enjoyed in the past—including continuing some series—and trying out writers that are new to me. I’ve got one shelf of sci-fi from non-American writers (Cuban, Chinese, Southeast Asian, and others) that I’m hoping to explore. I feel like I didn’t really read much middle grade fiction in 2021, but my youngest is now in that age range and so perhaps I can experience some of these books with her. We also still enjoy picture books, but I can see that we may be on the tail end of reading them regularly, so my own coverage has decreased—I should make some passes over the stacks I have and decide what we really want to keep and which we can bear to let go of.
A few specific titles on my list: I just started Noumenon Ultra by Marina J. Lostetter, the third book in a series about far-reaching space travel and evolving humanity. I’m looking forward to City Spies: Forbidden City by James Ponti, continuing a middle grade series about a team of secret agent kids. And I’ve got a copy of Mike Chen’s latest novel, Light Years From Home, which is maybe about alien abductions (but, knowing Mike Chen, it’s really about family). It’s also well past time to dig into these middle grade “Rick Riordan Presents” books written by various authors, inspired by the folklore and legends from their own cultures—they look great, but I just haven’t actually sat down to read them yet.
Turns out I do have some reading resolutions, beside reading everything under my shelf and on my computer (one can dream).
This year I wanted to emphasize diverse voices in YA, that means more diverse books by different authors from the US and abroad. I am following We Need Diverse Books for that and have started collaborating with World Kid Lit, especially because my main job focuses in Bolivian Children’s and YA literature and there is not a single title yet translated into English!
Representation, reviews and shout-outs for translated/diverse voices is very important, so hopefully I will get to point books to you all in that direction.
Following the pattern of the past two years, I hope and plan to read at least 22 books in 2022. I’m in the middle of a couple of books—Emma by Jane Austen and On Writing Well by William Zinsser—but have many others planned. Maybe this will be the year that I finally read Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series. And Rory and I can get to Persuasion after we finish Emma. I’d also like to read the third book in Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas series if our library ever gets it, my grandfather’s A Guide to Creative Writing, and perhaps even dive into some of Shannon Hale‘s books that I haven’t read yet. This year will also include some household purging, so I hope to find some books that I’ll be happy to part with once I read them. Maybe some of those will be a part of my final 2022 list. I’m looking forward to all of these reads!
I’m not sure how many books I should set for 2022 or if I should set a number at all. Numbers are good because they help us see the overall picture but does it really tell us how well we are doing? I mean, I’m having some health issues right now, and honestly, just reading one book in a month feels like an accomplishment. So, this year, I think I’ll take a break from saying I’ll complete X books this year and just be happy with whatever I can do. I’ll continue to track my reading for fun but not because I’m pushing myself to obtain a badge in Goodreads. I will say that I plan to expand past just paperbacks and listen to more books in my car on my drive to work and back. I also plan to carry a book with me everywhere so I always have something to occupy my mind (theme parks included).
I feel like I should keep my resolutions modest this year. No grand reading schemes that will fail by the end of January. I hit a nice groove with my reading in the latter half of 2021, so I want to keep on in the same vein. I will endeavor to read 50/50 review books/purchased books. This gives a nice balance between reading the new and exciting and catching up on the countless that I have missed out on.
One resolution that I want to bring into my life more generally, in part so I can find more time to read, is to cut down on my social media use. I find I lose great chunks of time reading what people I broadly agree with are saying about people I vehemently disagree with. It might give me fleeting moments of feeling like I’m “a good guy,” but ultimately it’s exhausting and a waste of time that could be put to better use.
It’s a tricky balance as also I find out about great books and games, and interact with my own gaming community on various platforms. I don’t want to lose all that, but I need to develop some willpower not to read what people are saying about Boris Johnson.
This is not exactly a resolution, maybe a piece of wishful thinking. Towards the end of 2021, I read a review of a book by Nobel prizewinner, Olga Tokarczuk. The Books of Jacob. Described as “The Nobel Prize–winner’s richest, most sweeping and ambitious novel yet follows the comet-like rise and fall of a mysterious, messianic religious leader as he blazes his way across eighteenth-century Europe,” it sounds like the sort of book I would love to read. The review was filled with superlatives, and I’d love to give it a go. It’s also 912 pages.
I love the idea of large books. Deep and immersive. Something to lose yourself in for days on end. In practice, I buy them and they sit on the shelf as I can’t find time to fit them into my reading schedule. Perhaps I should start with something smaller? A resolution, then, to read one book by Olga Tokarczuk.