The time has come to make your back-to-school resolutions. If you're a reader, you're probably used to this. Once you've restocked your notebooks, pens and pencils, highlighters, and sticky notes; and once you've labeled your folders and cleared off your laptop's desktop, you're ready to start setting your goals. If you're a reader, you're probably used to this. You have your very own curriculum, one totally separate from the one spelled out on the syllabus. But, non-readers know what I'm talking about, too. Doesn't everyone begin the year vowing to actually complete all the reading for classes, at least for a little while?
Although many readers love the direction that a good syllabus booklist offers, others thrive on a more intuitive sort of reading. I've always been in the latter camp. Maybe it's the contrarian in me (or the burnt-out perfectionist), but by the time I was a junior in high school, assigning a book for class basically ensured I wouldn't be reading it. (For this reason — and with much regret — I still have not finished The Scarlet Letter, the remedying of which is on my own list of readerly goals.) Still, even though I knew this about myself, every time I was faced with the newness of a school year, I swore I'd do better. I'd be different.
My reading habits might not be yours, but if you're a reader — or if you aspire to be a reader — I know you've got your own aspirations. (You've probably committed them to a Google Doc or a diary.) And if you don't... yet, no worries: here are 11 to get your wheels turning.
Spread Some Readerly Cheer
Even if you're not aiming to start a school-wide book club, readers need allies. The more enthusiasm you can inspire in your classmates, the more people with whom you can talk books.
If You Find Yourself Talking Exclusively To The Teacher, Keep Your Cool
Translation: Do not show off if it turns out you're the only contributor to class discussion. Do not spout literary trivia. Do not mention your aptitude for writing fan fiction. Do not discuss your blog. Remain focussed on your right-on reading of the book. Otherwise, you may regret it later.
Keep Your Mind On The Text At Hand
Sure, you may have read Crime and Punishment and The Great Gatsby and Against Interpretation four years ago, but no matter what's on your conquered list or your nightstand at home, this is the year — or at least the quarter — during which you'll stay focused on what the syllabus dictates. After all, there's something to be said for rereading.
But Be An Overachiever In Your Off-Hours
Snow days, rainy days, bitter cold days, Saturdays, Sundays, late-night Fridays, weeknights: this is the year that you'll devote yourself to reading 300 books before summer vacation. Big books. Impressive books. Books with stylistic footnotes. Books with nonlinear narratives. At least entertaining books.
Finish Your Novel/Screenplay/Graphic Memoir/Poetry Collection
You have something to say, and this is the year you'll finish it saying it. Classes are just a minor obstacle that can easily be overcome.
Don't Give Up On Anything — Or Anyone
There's no worse feeling than abandoning a book (unless, of course, it's causing you serious emotional distress). On that note, this is the year to keep an open mind about the nonreaders you meet. Don't write anyone off before you've gotten a chance to know them.
Though, There's Something To Be Said For Making A Scene
Spice up the school day if you must. (Hey, it's may not be as glamorous as prom, but still.) It'll only be this awkward tomorrow — and it'll be a good story to boot.
Return All Of Your Library Books
On time, undamaged (no dog ears). And that means no sneaking past the sensors. Don't be the bane of your librarian's existence! This year, be punctual or commit to hitting your local used bookshop on the regular. Your new-old book will love you, no matter how flimsy it may seem. But on that note...
Use Bookmarks, No Matter How Hard They May Be To Find
Note to self: they're never hard to find. Any scrap of paper, hair tie, bobby pin, or cell phone can hold your place in a book.
Find Utterly Perfect Storybook Love
Hey, it's been known to happen: two people who love the same books — or who are at least willing to read the same books — find each other. Preferably with someone who's either a writer, reader, editor of the literary magazine, or arts writer for the school newspaper.
Don't Be Afraid To Stand Out In a Crowd
You know great ideas require great thinkers. Embrace your strengths and don't be shy about sharing your perspective. You could be that person who makes a quiet kid's year absolutely enlightening.
Images: Giphy (11)