My New Year’s Resolution: Read More

Posted on Dec 31 2012 - 7:46pm by Jessica Johnson


Are you starting to think about goals and resolutions for the New Year?  We’ve asked writer Katie Gustafson to tell share her thoughts about goals and resolutions for 2013.  Her message: when it comes to goals simple is better!

Katherine Gustafson is an award-winning writer, journalist, and editor whose articles, essays, and stories have been published in numerous print and online media, including The Christian Science Monitor, Johns Hopkins Magazine, and Best Women’s Travel Writing.  An advocate for sustainable food she is the author of Change Comes To Dinner.  

How many people do you know who actually keep their New Year’s resolutions? I personally stopped making them years ago after realizing it is an exercise in futility. Or worse, it is in exercise in self-flagellation, because upon failing to live up to my resolution I would always feel guilty and somewhat bad about myself. It was a net negative.

But this year I’m thinking of a different approach. What if I resolve to do something I genuinely want to do but don’t make time for? Forget exercising and eating right! It will be way easier to follow through if I plan to do something I enjoy, and failure won’t be such a bummer because at least I won’t feel like my will power is lacking. I’ll just know I really am as busy as I think I am.

So what should the resolution be? There are many things I’d really like to do but don’t. They include writing a novel, reading more novels, going on long walks (notice I did not say going running!), taking time for myself, getting my hair cut frequently enough, etcetera. Apparently there are a lot of things I wish I were doing all the time.

ReadingTime to stop wishing and start acting, right? One thing that really pulls at me, and has pulled at me for years, is my desire to read more. Reading—even books I enjoy—is one of those things that takes a little bit more concentration and mental effort than I usually have at the end of a long day. After taking care of the baby, getting work done, cleaning up the house, and eating dinner, I collapse in front of the TV, wondering as always why I never read.

But what if I were to read at different times of the day? What if I decide I’ll dip into a novel at every lunch break, or for 15 minutes during every one of my daughter’s naps? What if I retire to bed early and read for just a few minutes before falling asleep? If I don’t think of reading as an activity that needs a big chunk of time to complete, then surely I can fit it in all throughout the day.

But in order to keep this resolution from becoming one more stressor or source of guilt, I will have to pick my books carefully. I need to read things I can’t wait to get back to. That will certainly make it painful to read in tiny little chunks, but at least I’ll be looking forward to the next chunk enough to forgo yet another endless rerun of Seinfeld after dinner.

What is your resolution this year? Do you really think you’ll succeed? And do you have any book recommendations for me?


Katherine Gustafson