My theory (New Year's is one of the very, very few times in a year where you'll actually find me being optimistic, if you catch me at the right moment): Whatever it is you want to do, be, or have, this could finally be the year. Especially if you insist on it, loudly enough that the universe has no choice but to go along. As in:
THIS IS THE YEAR.
Thus, I'm a big fan of resolutions. Last year, among other things, I resolved to buy a book a week. (I've always been a library girl, from a library family, so my shelves are embarrassingly empty -- and now that I buy food and pay my rent only because other people are gracious enough to buy *my* books, I decided to spend a few months returning the favor.) This may have been the best resolution I've ever made in my life, because it was certainly the only one that was massive amounts of fun to carry out. And I'll admit, I haven't read this much in years. Having more books around the house has actually managed to cut down on my television viewing.
Who knew anything could do that?
*Not including YA/Children's (because there were too many to write down and I don't remember which I bought and which I scavenged for free), presents (b/c I never bothered to write those down), or research books for Exciting New Novel Partly Set in Exotic Locale (because that would be telling....)
I didn't manage every single week, and I'll admit I still have a stack of books I've acquired but have yet to read, which is the kind of thing that generally stresses me out (but for 2011 I'm trying to cultivate a more zen approach to such things, so bring on the ToBeRead stacks), but here, in case you want confirmation, is the list of all the books I've bought and read this year:*
The Children's Book (AS Byatt), Last Night in Twisted River (John Irving), Await Your Reply (Don Chaon), Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz), Let the Great World Spin (Colum McCann), So Much For That (Lionel Shriver), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera), Eat the Document (Dana Spiotta), This Side of Paradise (F. Scott Fitzgerald), Consider the Lobster (David Foster Wallace), Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky), The Alienist (Caleb Carr), Where I'm Calling From (Raymond Carver), Beach Music (Pat Conroy), Nemesis (Philip Roth), The Slap (Christos Tsiolkas), Great House (Nicole Krauss), The American Painter Emma Dial (Samantha Peale), The Ask (Sam Lipsyte), Super Sad True Love Story (Gary Shteyngart), Bound (Antonya Nelson), The History of Love (Nicole Krauss), The Yiddish Policeman's Union (Michael Chabon), A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (David Foster Wallace), Man Walks Into a Room (Nicole Krauss), Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (Anne Tyler), The Shining (Stephen King), The Passage (Justin Cronin), The Dome (Stephen King), Heart Shaped Box (Joe Hill), A Gate at the Stairs (Lorrie Moore), Sunset Park (Paul Auster), The Magicians (Lev Grossman), Room (Emma Donoghue), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark), Changing My Mind (Zadie Smith)
(Seems like a good omen to end my year on a book with that title, no?)
(See my last post, if you're interested in my Best Of picks.)
Barry Lyga had a great post this week about how reading more widely -- and specifically, in his case, more adult books -- has shaped his writing, and I couldn't agree more. I've read more books, and, more importantly, more amazing, awe-inspiringly well written books this year than I have in a really long time (and this includes some of those YA and middle grade books that aren't on this list, but are in that Best Of post).
I read books that reminded me of why I wanted to be a writer -- and books that showed me how to be a better one.
I've spent most of this year writing a book that terrified me to write, and -- not to jinx things -- I think it's turning out better than anything I've written before. If that proves to be the case, it will be 90% thanks to all these books I was reading on the side. So, thank you, amazing authors, and thank you 2010 resolution.
Which brings me to 2011.
I like to make three resolutions: One which will make me a better person, one which will make me a better writer, and one which I can actually, concretely do something to accomplish. Still working on them, though -- I figure I have until tomorrow to set them in stone.
What about you? Anyone got any exciting resolutions for 2011, or ambitions that you'd like the universe to accommodate? How about we all agree right now:
THIS IS THE YEAR.
So you tell me: The year for what?