Reading Resolutions for 2009

I can’t help but reflect on my reading habits as 2009 begins. Last year, I managed to get through 111 books, a pretty good total considering that I got married (among many other happy and not-so-happy events). My latest trick to cram in an extra book a month is to check out a large print book that my eyes can follow while I’m bouncing on the machines at the gym. I use audiobooks, lunch and bedtime reading, and books squeezed into a dozen of the quiet moments in the day to keep that total slowly rising, but even a book lover like me has to admit that reading too many more books may throw life out of balance.

So if I can’t read more books, how else will I change my reading habits in 2009? After looking at the list of books that I read in 2008, here are 5 resolutions I’ve made for my upcoming reading year:

1) FINISH (or at Least Make Progress in) MORE SERIES

I’ve never been a reader who is driven to finish a series immediately. I like variety too much and rarely read back-to-back books by the same author. However, since I read plenty of genre fiction, the unfinished series are starting to stack up, each leaving a tiny bit of unresolved anxiety in my psyche. It’s time to return to Robin Hobb, Michael Connelly, Kim Stanley Robinson, Laurie Marks, Boris Akunin, John Scalzi, Jacqueline Carey, Karen Traviss, Louise Penny, Daniel Abraham, S.M. Stirling, Kay Kenyon, Kage Baker, Greg Keyes, Naomi Novik, Larry McMurtry, David Gemmell, and several other favorites who I enjoyed but left mid-story.


My desire to promote intelligent genre fiction and attempts to keep up with just a small trickle from the stream of good new literary fiction and narrative nonfiction take up most of my reading schedule. I’ve read the classics less often as my school years recede further into the past. That’s too bad, because when I do make time for a classic, I usually enjoy it. I suspect this is a reading resolution that I share with many of you. Try re-reading a book that you haven’t tried since high school or making time to erase one more title from that list of great books that you’ve somehow always missed. Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice, Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and Dickens’ Bleak House: This year you’re coming down off the shelf!


Reading is a private pleasure, and I don’t need to talk about every book I read with others, but on the other hand, I know how it enhances my life to share books with others. I’m resolved to pick up more of the same books as my wife in the upcoming year. I plan to continue to enjoy the three book groups in which I participate and encourage others to discover the joy of reading books in groups (even–GASP–the books that you wouldn’t have picked yourself). Since becoming a librarian, my urge to build a big collection has dwindled, I get enough of that during the day. So in 2009, my intention is to give away more of the books that I’ve read and stashed on a shelf, giving them to friends, my library, or even just dropping them in public places.


I love young adult literature. There are so many treasures waiting on those shelves for teen AND adults to discover. But I don’t squeeze YA books into my reading queue often enough. In 2009, I’m going to find a little more time for writers like  M. T. Anderson, Pete Hautman, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Neal Shusterman, Margo Lanagan, Scott Westerfeld, and John Green. I’m going to sample the young adult offerings of favorites like Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book), China Mieville (Un Lun Dun), Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters), and Ursula K. Le Guin (Voices and the rest of the Annals of the Western Shore.


My newest collection assignment at the library is the biography section, and I just haven’t read enough of the books on its shelves. In 2009 I’m resolved to read more of them. How about M.F.K. Fisher’s memoirs, Brad Gooch’s new Flannery O’ Connor biography, Edmund Morris’s Teddy Roosevelt biographies, Ron Powers on Mark Twain, Crystal Zevon on her rock star ex-husband friend Warren, and Nicholas Shakespeare’s Bruce Chatwin for starters?

Well, my reading list is already getting crowded, but I’ve learned to live with that, usually even enjoy it. Take time at your next book group meeting to go around the room and hear one reading resolution from each of your members. You might come up with some fantastic ideas for group choices and you’ll certainly get to know each other better. Your resolutions are also welcome as comments here on Book Group Buzz.



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

4 Comments on "Reading Resolutions for 2009"

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  1.' Charlene says:

    That’s Crystal Zevon’s excellent book about her ex-husband and life-long friend — not her father.

  2. YAY for reading while working out! I do that, too!
    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
    Ch. 1 is online!

  3. Neil Hollands says:

    Thanks for the correction Charlene. I’ll fix the post. I think I better bump that book up one more spot on the “to read” list!

  4.' Shelia says:

    If you’re serious about The Idiot, make sure you read the Richard Pevear/Larissa Volokhonsky translation.

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