Welcome to January!
It’s a time for new beginnings, new resolutions and NEW BOOKS.
Last year I took on dry January and didn’t drink any alcohol for a whole month. In previous years I’ve also tried to eat healthily, lose weight and watched my friends do crazy things like give up sugar for the month. This year I will be doing none of that. Partly because as I get older I do think it gets a bit easier to be happy just with how things are. And anyone who gives up sugar ‘cold turkey’ is crazy.
If you’re going to make one, I’m of the opinion that when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, the vaguer and more difficult to measure, the better.
I’ve been asking everyone around me what their resolutions are, and I tend to like the ones that are fluffy but are – I think, at least – more honest.
People have said that they’ll take more time for themselves, read more, blog more, take up a new sport, learn something new, or travel somewhere they’ve never been before. Others are trying to get a new job or start a course. Not something you can tick off a list, but something that you can commit to in your own self.
Last year, my resolution was to get a new hobby. I joined a choir, and it’s honestly one of the best things I’ve done in this big ol’ impersonal city.
So with all that in mind, I’m setting myself some nice, vague, fluffy New Year’s Resolutions for my reading:
Read more in Spanish and Italian
My university languages. I haven’t read much in either language for a long time and all that hard-earned vocabulary has started to slip away. But more importantly, I’ve lost touch with why I loved learning languages; the musicality of hearing other people speak in a new way and the gateway it offers into a totally different way of thinking. I’ll kick this off by re-reading ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and the ‘Roman Tales’ by Alberto Moravia (in the originals, obviously!).
Read from somewhere I’ve never read from before
Clunkily-worded title aside, what I mean is that I’d like to read a couple of books from a culture I’m not familiar with. This year I read quite a bit of African fiction which was really rewarding. This year I might try Central American, Russian or Japanese fiction.
Read another big-ass classic
Last year, I waded my way through War & Peace. I’m still doing my victory laps after this feat but I would like to try another one soon. Preferably a great big intimidating one which will make me look good at parties. I have my eye on ‘Moby Dick’ or possibly ‘Anna Karenina’, although it seems boring to go for another Tolstoy. I could try ‘Crime and Punishment’ again although I was thoroughly defeated last time I attempted it.
Do the Man Booker shortlists again
I read the shortlists for the International and UK/US Man Booker prizes last year and found some absolute gems. It also introduced me to a couple of authors whose works I always look out for now, like Han Kang and Olga Tokarczuk. Pleasingly, my favourite books have won both times – although I incorrectly guessed that the Man Booker prize would go to my second favourite in the shortlist!
Take more recommendations
I have been rewarded this year for stepping outside of my reading comfort zone and trying books I never would have picked up. In fact, some of them have become my all-time favourites. So, this year I will keep pestering you all for your recommendations in the hope of finding my next revelation!
In a non-book related way, I have some resolutions for this year too. After last year’s success, I’m going to try and take up another hobby or skill – maybe brush calligraphy, or watercolour painting? – and take more short trips outside the city to get some fresh air and country walks.
But I have to say, 2018 was a pretty darn good year, so I’m not planning on making any major changes.
And anybody who tries to make me diet will have a leftover mince pie thrown at their head.
Happy New Year everyone!