I DON’T DO RESOLUTIONS
Every year, as we turn the page from old to new, I like to joke that the only resolution I have ever kept is the one made decades ago, not to make any resolutions.
DOING WHAT WORKS
Don’t get me wrong. For some people, resolutions work. They set them and embrace them and succeed and that is awesome! If you are one of those people, I applaud and celebrate you and encourage you to keep doing what works for you.
But, for me, resolutions just seem so…resolute, which is to say, inflexible. “I am going to lose 15 pounds by February” doesn’t leave much room for flexibility. Some people find that sort of firm determination works, but for me, that’s just a way to increase my stress level and set myself up for failure.
GOALS VERSUS RESOLUTIONS
Now, I do set goals and specific targets for myself. I am especially fond of taking big projects and breaking them down into more doable short-term goals. Instead of, “I will finish revising my novel this month,” I like to set myself a goal of ten pages a day. Or, if I am at the line editing level, replacing most, if not all, of the instances and variations of the word “look” or “turn” or whichever is my current word du jour. Ten pages a day, that’s doable. And if life happens (HAH!), I mean, when life happens, I can adjust around that.
Life happens. And for whatever reason goals feel more flexible to me than full-on resolutions.
THE 2021 READING WOMEN CHALLENGE: A GOAL
This past year, I had a goal of completing the 2021 Reading Women Challenge. I had previously completed the Challenge in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and felt confident that 2021 would be no different. Though I am already an eclectic reader, I truly enjoyed the way the Reading Women* challenges pushed me to stretch my reading parameters even further than normal.
I set off and happily made my list of books based on the proscribed categories and got off to a running start. That stopped when I picked up some of the new award winners from the previous year and them there were the recommendations from other book coaches that piqued my interest. Not to mention, the writing books that were brought to my attention in the course of my work. And so on and so forth and I found myself derailed from that goal.
Oh, I completed more than 60% by reading books that fulfilled better than half the categories. And I’m glad I did, but I’m also glad that I was less than resolute about completing the challenge this past year because I read so many good books that came my way via other avenues. And, there are still a number of books on my list from the challenge that I intend to read, even though the year has ended. So, as far as I am concerned, the goal of the challenge, to push me out of my reading zone and expand my horizons, especially for books written by women, was a success, despite the fact that I did not resolutely stick to the plan.
MY 2021 READING YEAR
Ultimately, I read (and tracked**) 86 books, around half of those were picture books, which I regularly read to keep myself in tune with the format. On the other hand, the longest book I read, Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, fell in at an epic 1007 pages!
STACKING THEM UP
Of the books I read in 2021, some of the ones I enjoyed the most include:
Tj Klune’s Under the Whispering Door and The House in the Cerulean Sea
The Galaxy and the Ground Within and A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valenti
Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Books that opened me up and showed me things, including exposing some of my own biases, and offered me new understanding:
Being Seen by Elsa Sjunneson
Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein
Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo
Craft in the Real World by Mathew Salesses
Books that I have marked as future mentor texts, include:
The Black Prism by Brent Weeks for his absolutely well-played protagonist’s twist of character.
A Sporting Chance by Lori Alexander and The Elephants Come Home as examples of excellent non-fiction for kids.
Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri for its wonderful structure.
After the Fall by Dan Santat for the way it captures the truth of trauma in a relatable way filled with emotion.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland for the voice.
2022 READING GOAL (Remember, I Don’t do Resolutions)
My reading goal for 2022 is to read at least 50 books. I won’t make it a resolution, since I don’t do resolutions, but I expect I won’t have any trouble reaching that number. After all, my TBR pile never seems to do anything but grow!
*Sadly, it appears the facilitators of the Reading Women Challenge have chosen not to create a 2022 list. But you can certainly head over to the Reading Women website and revisit the past lists for some great ideas for books to read now and in the future, or listen to episodes of their podcast.
**You can see the titles of all the books I tracked in 2021 on my Goodreads page.