The most popular New Year’s resolutions usually have to do with losing weight and becoming healthier – noble and smart promises to make, for sure. But for those of us who are hoping to expand and exercise a different part of the body – the mind – the resolution we’ll be making is to read more in 2020.
Sounds easy, right? Just pick up a book and read; piece of cake! But if you’re anything like us, you know that reading tends to fall by the wayside during the everyday busyness of life. We love scrolling through aspirational photos of people wrapped in chunky, snuggly blankets, steaming coffee mug in one hand and good book laid out to the perfect page in the other hand on Instagram; dedicating actual time in real life to that picture-perfect scenario is a little harder to come by. And that’s a crying shame when the world is full of stories and words just waiting for you to get lost in this year.
We spoke with two local booksellers to help us get on track with our reading resolutions in 2020; time to dust off those bookshelves and crack open that stack of books on your nightstand!
1. Start small
To go from hardly ever reading to resolving to read more during the year is a big task; therefore, begin appropriately and work your way up. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do one of those 52 books in 52 weeks challenges or something similar – that’ll just set you up to stop reading all together. “Start slow!” says Suzanna Hermans of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck. “Try to carve out one or two hours a week to devote to reading.”
2. Don’t read before bed
We know – you probably have a mountain of books right next to your bed. While conventional wisdom calls for fitting in some light reading before hitting the sack, it’s not wise to read before bed unless you’re actively trying to make yourself fall asleep. “Make a date with a book,” says Francine Lucidon of The Voracious Reader in Larchmont. “Picking up a book from your nightstand when you can barely keep your eyes open might be a great way to fall asleep but not necessarily to catch up on reading.”
3. Throw yourself into the culture
Talk to your friends about what they’re reading. Join a book club. Read about new books and book reviews. “By immersing yourself in book culture, you’re guaranteed to have a spark lit when you hear about an exciting new book,” says Lucidon.
4. Don’t be afraid to stop reading something
This advice sounds counterintuitive to the point of this article, but hear us out. We’re sure there have been times when you’re dying to read a book only to figure out a few pages in that you’re just not that into it. “If you’re struggling to get through a book, it’s ok to give up!” says Hermans. “Life is too short to read books you don’t like.” Don’t guilt yourself into finishing a book just because you picked it up to begin with. Feel free to move on to – and discover — something else.
5. Carry your book with you
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In the school pickup line? Get reading. Kids don’t want to leave the park just yet? One more chapter it is. “Books make great dining companions!” says Lucidon. “Some of my loveliest reads have happened over a glass of wine in a quiet restaurant.” If you’ve always got your book with you, those spare moments that feel like wasted time can become small gateways into the literary world.
Armed with this sage advice, now is the perfect time to cozy up and make a date with that book you’ve been meaning to read. Need some suggestions? Hermans recommends Jason Rekulak’s The Impossible Fortress, about a group of young friends in the 1980s. Or, try Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay, about a young woman who spends the holidays alone on campus during her first year at college and tries to find her path forward. Pick one of these or grab something that’s been sitting on your shelf forever. What are you waiting for?