First of all, let me greet everyone a happy (Chinese) new year! I know we’re midway through January already so I am hoping it is still not too late for this greeting.
One of the things that come to mind when the new year comes around is the preparation of our new year’s resolutions and goals. For many of us, it has become a tradition. The new year, after all, ushers in opportunities for improving ourselves or simply opportunities to go beyond our comfort zones. To kick start my new year, I have come up with my personal reading goals and resolutions. This is going to be the fourth time I am doing this; I missed out last year, unfortunately. I did, however, keep a mental map of my goals and I am glad to say that I have fared well in most of them. I did still fail at some of my goals but hey, I am just going to take the positives. I guess keeping my goals realistic contributed to my success last year.
Quantifying my goals helped in my reading journey these past few years although I still missed the mark on some. I step into 2023 with the hopes that I get to accomplish my goals for this year (at least in terms of reading). Without more ado, here are my reading resolutions for 2023.
1. READ MORE AND BUY LESS!
Ah. This one again. For the fourth year, I am listing this on top of my reading resolutions; this will be a constant I guess, one that will keep on haunting me. The pandemic years were really bad if I have to be honest. While I read a lot of books – nearly 300 – I have also been piling up books on my bookshelf. If we go on a per-month basis, I did succeed in some months. Currently, I am on a book-buying ban (not bingeing), albeit not deliberately. It has worked so far as I am yet to buy one book this year. I hope I get to maintain it for the rest of the year.
2. Read at least three works by Filipino authors.
I am bumping this goal up the list. While I have made reading at least one work by a Filipino writer an annual tradition since 2017, I failed to read even just one book last year. This effectively ended my streak. To make up for lost ground, I am aiming to read at least three works by a Filipino writer. I even listed two on my 2023 Top 23 Reading List, a first.
3. Read at least 80 Books.
Last year was… surreal. I didn’t expect I would end the year by completing at least 100 books. It was a lifelong goal that I kept on failing horribly. Just when I least expected it, life gave me a surprise. This only underlined how the pandemic has allowed me to catch up on my reading. As I mentioned above, I read nearly 300 books in the past three years, the most I had in this span of time. This was despite the fact that my goals have always been conservative. For the fourth year in a row, my goal will still be conservative. I could have easily said to read at least 100 books but I also realized that what happened last year was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. With me resuming most of my pre-pandemic activities, finding time to read is going to be somewhat of a challenge. As such, I set my target to 80 books, 70 actually in Goodreads.
4. Read at least 50 pages every day. Read one hour daily.
Life can be busy. Striking a balance between life and work is an infinite challenge. Somehow, the pandemic did allow me to slow down and find time for the things I wanted to do, i.e. reading. It was for this reason that I was able to, I think, accomplish this goal I had in the past two or three years. I was also able to read for at least one hour every day, again, I think so. I know that I read every day of the year. This is going to be my goal this year. So far, so good. No matter how demanding my schedules can get – I also have to cram in working out, writing, and traveling in my packed schedule – I will try to find time to read.
5. Broaden my horizon by reading at least two books from each of the six continents
If there is one thing I am grateful for in books and reading, in general, is that they both allowed me to expand my perspective and understanding of different people from different places. I am in awe of how diverse the world we are living in is. Each writer I read, each place that I have been to – through literature that is – made me listen to different voices that echo from across the world. This makes me more committed to reading books that will further broaden my horizon. As part of my goal of reading diversity, I am to read at least two books from each of the six continents.
6. Read diversely.
I used to be the type of reader who is not very adventurous. I pigeonholed myself by reading mostly works of mystery fiction and the occasional scandalous reads, think Jackie Collins. In the past few years, I was able to redress this. I started reading magical realism. I also dipped my toes into works of speculative fiction, one I used to be ambivalent about. And yes, I read several works of historical and literary fiction. While it was not always easy shifting from one genre to another, I am proud of how I was able to adapt to various genres and subjects. Diversity in reading, I realized, was an effective way of getting over reading slumps, helping me fight reading boredom. It is again my goal to diversify my reading in 2023.
7. Participate in at least four reading challenges and complete all of them.
Year in, year out, I have signed myself up for different reading challenges. There are challenges that I succeed in but also come with failures, several of them in fact. I don’t think I ever finished a year with all the reading challenges completed. Sure, I am generally successful with Beat the Backlist challenges and my Top 20 (21, 22, or 23) Reading List but I fail in the rest. I am hoping that 2023 will be different. Below are the reading challenges I have decided to participate in. Please note that some are personal challenges.
One reading challenge that has become a staple of my reading year is the beat-the-backlist challenge. Basically, the challenge involves reading books that were published beyond the current year, i.e. for 2023, all books published prior to 2023 are considered as backlist reads. This is one of the challenges that I am highly successful in because, as I have repeatedly mentioned over the years, I am a backlist type of reader. The majority of the books I read were backlists and this is evident in the past three years when almost 85% of all the books I read are backlists.
However, despite my successful participation, I still have several books published beyond the current year. With this, I will be signing up again for 2023 Beat the Backlist challenge hosted by Austine Decker. My beat-the-backlist challenge has two layers. One layer is a generic goal, just a number of backlist reads I aim for during the year. Last year, I read 87 backlist books, nearly double my goal of 50 books. For 2023, I will still have 50 as my magic number. The second layer of the challenge is a list of backlist books I aim to read for the year. Despite a hiccup when I first participated in this challenge, I managed to read all the books I listed. I will again be listing 15 backlist books. I am still, however, deciding on which books to include in the challenge although some of them already might have been listed in my 2023 Top 23 Reading List.
B. 12 Books by African Writers Book Challenge
I just discovered this reading challenge. I was searching for any 2023 Year of the African Literature Reading Challenge but, unfortunately, I was not able to find one. However, I came across this challenge hosted by Nokukhanya Ntsabula a.k.a Pretty Bookish. This challenge is in line with my goal of hosting an African literature month, my first since 2021. I already have some works by African writers in mind such as Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Paradise (Tanzania), Wole Soyinka’s Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth (Nigeria), Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace of Desire (Egypt), and J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello (South Africa).
This is another reading challenge I encountered but I am signing up for it because it is aligned with my goals this year. Over the past few years, as I get more exposed to works of literature from different parts of the world because of perusing must-read lists, my list of translated works I want to read has also grown exponentially. Although there is still an inordinately huge disparity between works written in English and translated works, I have been reading more and more translated works in the past few years. In 2023, for instance, I read more than 40 translated works. The reading challenge seems easy though and I can easily hit the linguist level (the highest).
8. Read more works of non-American writers.
One aspect of my reading history floated to the surface last year. When I decided to focus on my reading challenges during the second semester of 2022, I realized that the majority of books I listed for challenges were works of American writers. Going through the list of books I have read, I also noted that more than half of the books I read were written by American writers. They also dominate my most-read writers list. As such, I have decided to reduce the ratio of American writers to global writers this year. The ratio I have in mind is a quarter to three quarters.
My ultimate goal is to reduce the disparity between works of American literature I read to works of global literature. Currently, roughly 53% of the 996 books I read were written by 231 American writers. That is 45% of all the writers whose works I have read. I aim to reduce the ratio to around 40% in three years. This is quite a tall task but I am hoping I make it.
9. Read 20 books from the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.
One of the many must-read lists I have encountered was the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, a list that gave me some of my most memorable reads. It has been my goal to read at least 20 books from this list; I have read a measly 15% of the list so far. Unfortunately, I was not able to read 20 books from this list last year. In 2023, I am going to get my groove back. I know it is quite a tall task but I hope I get to find the time to tick off more books from this expansive list. To optimize, I have to align my goal with other reading challenges I have signed up for this year. I, in fact, listed some of these books in my 2023 Top 23 Reading list, such as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain.
10. Read twenty new books.
Yes, I admit that I am a backlist type of reader. I have been trying to make up for the lost time I guess. But with this is the recognition that I am also lagging behind in books that are currently being released, “new” books. As such, I have been gearing toward reading more new books. This is also to prevent reading catch-ups such as what is currently I am doing and what I did in the first two months of 2022. By catch-up, I mean reading books from the previous year. I think I was able to read at least fifteen new books in the past three years. That is a good starting point.
11. Read at least two nonfiction books.
Alongside reading works by local authors, I have made it my goal to expand to nonfiction books. My focus on works of fiction made me, on an unconscious level, avoid works of nonfiction. However, I started to redress this back in 2018 when I read my first nonfiction book in years. In the past two years, I managed to read three memoirs, including one by Nobel Laureate in Literature Wole Soyinka. For 2023, I’m keeping my original goal of reading at least two nonfiction books, a goal I set back in 2020.
12. Read ten works by Nobel Laureates in Literature.
Prior to 2015, I really wasn’t much into the works of Nobel Prize in Literature awardees; to be honest, I didn’t even know of its existence although I knew about the Nobel Peace Prize. It took must-read lists and reading challenges for me to be aware of the most prestigious literary prize. Nobel Laureates in Literature has become wells of amazing reads. Yasunari Kawabata, Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, and John Steinbeck immediately come to mind. For the first time, I will be holding a Nobel Prize in Literature month; this was actually originally planned for 2022 but I wasn’t able to get to it.
13. Post one book tag every month.
It was in 2021 that I decided to make posting one book tag a month a habit. Unfortunately, I was not able to make good on this promise in 2022, especially during the second half. This year, I am going back to that original goal of posting at least one book tag per month. I find doing book tags a fun activity, to be honest. These book tag updates will go along with my weekly updates such as WWW Wednesday, Top Five/Ten Tuesdays, First Impression Friday, and Goodreads Mondays. These have all become part of my weekly ritual These are book blogging activities that I enjoyed and will carry over into 2023.
14. Complete book review within a week of finishing a book. Publish eight book reviews a month.
This is a big if, especially if I can magically complete all my pending book reviews, which currently sit around 50. I can be a laggard in terms of writing a book review. This particular resolution was also part of my 2019, 2020, and 2021 reading resolution but I keep on failing, horribly. I did manage to publish over a hundred book reviews last year but at least half of that was from my 2021 reading year. Haha. My hands are still tied to completing these pending reviews. I hope I get to complete all of them before midyear.
To decongest my burgeoning list of pending book reviews, it is my goal to publish at least eight book reviews a month. I wasn’t able to call this a successful mission last year because there were months I published less than eight book reviews. Nevertheless, I am still aiming for eight a month this year. I can already call January a failure as I am yet to publish one book review. To be honest, my original goal was 10 book reviews a month but that is too tall a task considering how much of a laggard I can be at times!
TAKE IT ALL IN STRIDES.
After years of reading, I have realized the importance of allowing myself some space and time. I should not be driven by the stresses and pressures of the various forces that are flowing in from all corners. Reading, after all, is not about quantity but about quality. It is supposed to be a safe haven, a form of escape from the pressures of our quotidian existence. Slow down if you must. Read at your own pace. There will be days when you won’t feel like picking up a book. That is still okay. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you understand and appreciate the book in your hand. This is a gentle reminder to myself and to fellow readers who are hampered by various pressures: drink in the books one page at a time.
The same as last year, the only thing that I am looking forward to this year is that the books I read fill my soul, give me a deeper insight into the world, and offer me a broader perspective of life and its peripheries. I hope it will do the same to all of you fellow readers! Again, happy new year!
How was your 2022 in terms of reading? What are your reading goals and resolutions this year? Let me know your thoughts and let’s talk in the comments section.