Saturday, January 28, 2012

Happy New Year at the End of January

Ringing in the New Year with spiffy hats

I hope everybody enjoyed happy holidays and a lovely New Year.  The New Year is a time for reflection and resolutions, and I've made a fair share of my own for the coming months.  The goal with which I'm most concerned is my resolution to read more.  Occasionally I am easily led away from my reading.  I don't always persevere when I have difficulty concentrating on a text, or I let myself become preoccupied with day-to-day tasks.  That needs to stop.

But my resolution is equally concerned with quality as it is with quantity.  In the past my reading choices have been somewhat bipolar: nineteenth-century fiction or young adult novels.  This was particularly the case when I was working retail.  After an exhausting eight-hour shift spent entirely on my feet, I often felt too dead for intelligent thought.  So I turned to brain candy YA series.  While some of what's currently circulating in that genre is contemplative and well-written, after two years of wading through many of YA's 'hot titles' I've determined much of what's published is pure tripe.  Not every novel needs to contain supernatural figures (vampires, werewolves, fallen angels, fairies, leprechauns) and unconvincing pubescent entanglements of the romantic variety (love triangles, love squares, love octagons).  I was joking about the leprechauns and love octagons, but if I ever decide to write a YA novel I've inadvertently stumbled upon a brilliant concept. 

I've finally concluded that even if I'm not in the mood for Dombey and Son, it doesn't mean I need to degrade myself to [insert horrible teen title here].  This is the year of increasing the breadth of reading!  So long, crappy teen fiction littered with grammatical errors and five reiterations of the same word on a single page!  I will still continue to cleave to my beloved Victorian novels, but it's time to spread my wings a little bit.  Below are some of the reading categories with which I'm hoping to become better acquainted:

Non-Fiction: I really struggle to tear myself away from novels, but I'm denying myself so much enjoyable learning as a result.  I'd like to read biographies on favourite authors and dig deeper into British history.  Literary criticism does not count.

Poetry: I was woefully ashamed when I recently scanned my bookshelves and noticed a shocking lack of poetry.  It needs more representatives in my collection.  I'm particularly looking forward to more John Keats.

Drama: Again, too many novels.  I've taken Shakespeare modules more than once in my academic career, but I've never read Marlowe or Jonson *slaps wrist.*

20th Century/Contemporary Fiction: There are plenty of breezy yet intelligent novels I can turn to when Dickens's endless descriptions of the Victorian legal system seem too imposing.  And I'm sure there are plenty of excellent novels penned outside of the long nineteenth century.  There are, aren't there?  Aren't there?!

I've also made a few resolutions that to do not directly affect my TBR list.  They include:

Get Published: 2012 is the year my name will appear in an academic journal!

Get Creative with Cooking: My culinary skills are limited, but I'm determined to stick with my recent conversion to vegetarianism.  Unfortunately, exactly 98% of traditional Utah recipes call for ground beef (which I hated even when I was an omnivore) and/or cream of chicken soup.  Fact.  Therefore, I need to get creative in the kitchen with fun meat-free options.

Visit a Literary Mecca: I've decided life is not worth living if one can't visit author museums.  It's just not.  I even came up with some names of American writers whose domains I would love to roam: Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton and Edgar Allan Poe.

Earn Money of Some Sort: Whoa, dream big!

Get in Shape: I know this is the classic resolution with a .001% success rate come February 1, so I'm following the advice of nearly every fitness magazine by setting a realistic, achievable goal: workout more.  Period.  Like, once a month or something.

Those, my friends, are my official New Year's Resolutions.  In writing.  I am happy to report that I have had some success since I set these goals after my horrible rendition of Auld Lang Syne.  Not the getting in shape bit, but I still have until Tuesday to squeeze in my January workout.

Did you set New Year's Resolutions?  Have you kept them so far?  Also, if you're a fan of non-fiction I'd love to hear what some of your favourites are -- I need help in that department!