A Resolution to Read
Written By: LuLu Mecham
Since the new year is upon us, it's safe to say many will be looking for ways to improve their lives or develop better habits. I was recently looking at the top ten new year’s resolutions, and I was surprised to see that on that list was the simple goal of reading more. I am an avid reader, studied English, and have taught hundreds of students in reading and writing classes. I’ve personally witnessed reading benefit many lives, including my own, so I encourage anyone to try to read even just a little bit more in the new year. That can be easier said than done, so I’d like to provide you with some ideas to make that goal easier.
When someone thinks of reading, they usually think of books with traditional plot elements. While traditional books are great options, feel free to branch out. Many readers prefer non-fiction, specific essays, or even a newspaper. Some people like graphic novels or poetry. Trying different formats, genres, and even text length will help you decide which works best for you and your time restraints or lifestyle. It’s also important to read about something that interests you. What are your hobbies? What kinds of movies or television shows do you like? What would you like to know more about? Think of the topics that interest you and choose accordingly. You don’t have to be stuck reading something you find uninteresting simply because you think it’s intelligent or impressive. Find text you enjoy!
A big part of any goal or resolution is to have a plan. Think about what you want to accomplish with reading and decide some actions steps. Some readers choose a book or two a month, some subscribe to a paper or magazine and set aside time each week to read it. Others join book groups or clubs that have reading schedules set or decide to read an extended series throughout the year. Whatever you want your goal to be, just make sure you have a plan of action. I think an overall good place to start is to either make a goal of a certain amount of time you’d like to read—say an hour a week, or to make a goal of the amount of books or other texts you’d like to read in a year— say 6 books that year. Just make sure your goal is realistic. You can always adjust it if needed.
If I could give you one piece of advice to become a better reader, it would be to utilize your resources! Books and other printed text can be expensive. You shouldn’t have to buy a book every time you want to read, and thankfully, you don’t have to. Have you visited your local library? They are extremely helpful and house lots of valuable information about how to make reading easier. A lot of the time you can even get a library card online now, so that step could be done beforehand. Many libraries also have other resources like printing, internet access, study rooms, outreach programs, and more. My last local library even had a large and beautiful community garden that had plenty of quiet reading benches. Libraries are truly magical places.
You can also check out eBooks and audiobooks from your local library and send them to your phone or eReader by using an app like Libby. Most of my reading is done through borrowing eBooks and using Libby to send them to my Kindle or listening to audiobooks on the Libby app itself. You can also add multiple library cards if you have more than one—which I’m guilty of—and your eBook library will be even bigger.
If you don’t have a Kindle or other eReader, you can download the Kindle app on your phone. If you still prefer a hard copy book or text, many libraries also have regular book sales where you can get discounted books. This happens a lot at the end of the year. You can also check out used bookstores or second-hand stores. Libraries and bookstores usually have excellent displays or recommendations if you don’t know where to begin. The employees and volunteers are also usually very helpful, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about reading. When I was younger, I worked at a bookstore, and we loved when people would ask for recommendations.
One of the best parts of reading is finding other people to talk with about what you read. A good place to start is by asking close family or friends to read a certain book with you. It would probably be easier to convince people you have shared interests with, but even discussing with just one person can encourage you to read more. If that’s not an option. You can always join a book club or book group in your community. If that’s not your cup of tea, social media has a wide range of ways to discuss books. You can join online groups, follow hashtags, subscribe to creators with common reading interests, etc. Reading becomes even better when you can share ideas, perspectives, or thoughts about something everyone has read.
Other than it being entertaining, reading has more health benefits than you probably know. . Research suggests that reading strengthens brain activity, increases empathy, reduces stress, helps to alleviate depression and anxiety, helps you sleep, and helps you live longer. Hopefully those benefits encourage you to read more in the new year, and perhaps you’ll soon be convincing others to become lifelong readers.