So, you set
your reading goal for last year and totally crushed it. Maybe your reading resolution was numerical — you wanted to read say, 25, or 50, or more books by the end of the year. Maybe you wanted to expand the content of your regularly scheduled reading — adding more diverse books to your TBR pile, or focusing on women writers, or checking out that one genre you’ve always been a little afraid of but still wanted to try. Now, with the new year brushing aside 2017 like a bad habit, it’s time to think about what you want your year in reading to look like in 2018. And I’ve got just the goal for you.
We’ve all heard the expression “new year, new book” (that is how it goes, right?) This year, make your reading goal a super easy one (or, not so easy if you’re like me and can’t ever narrow down your TBR pile.) Nonetheless, here it goes:
read a new book every month this year.
Here are 10 tried and true reasons — some even backed by science! —
why you should read a new book every month this year. If you want to read two new books (or, like 12) I totally support that too. I’ll be right there with you. 1 It’s good for your overall health and well-being.
Here are some science-backed ways that reading is basically the best thing ever: it reduces stress, improves your memory, increases white brain matter and supports healthy brain function, increases your attention span and ability to focus, improves understanding and empathy, and can actually lower your heart rate and improve sleep patterns. And that’s just the beginning.
2 It’s a great way to wind down at the end of the day.
In desperate need of a vacation but don’t have the budget to fly to Fiji? The good news is, for $30 or less, you can buy yourself a brand new, hardcover, mini vacation — courtesy of your local bookstore. Science has shown that
reading reduces stress and increases feelings of peacefulness and tranquility (bonus points: it can help you fall asleep at the end of the day too.) A 2015 study from a U.K.-based organization called The Reading Agency proved that folks who regularly read for pleasure were less likely to experience stress and anxiety than folks who wind down their days with technology. 3 There are tons of cool things happening in new literature.
I get it — if the last time you actually sat down and made a point to read was when
Walden was assigned in 10th grade English, chances are you haven’t developed a lifelong love of literature. But from the explosion of the YA genre, to the evolution of poetry, to the novels and memoirs that push the boundaries of creativity and totally rock our shelves, there is a lot to love in new literature. So don’t just read a book that’s new to you this year — actually sit down and check out the new writers and releases of 2018. You won’t regret it, I promise. 4 You’ll realize your secret dreams of being girl squad librarian.
Have you always harbored a secret desire to be the one literary lady in your girl squad who everyone else comes to when they’re in need of a must-read book recommendation? (Me too.) But first, you have to update your own personal library with all the books you suspect people will be buzzing about this year. Your gal pals will definitely thank you, whether they use your skills to discover their new favorite writer or to totally impress that cutie standing in the fiction section of Barnes & Noble.
5 You might become a better friend/partner/sibling/daughter/coworker.
That’s right, reading actually makes you nicer. Or, at least, a better listener (unless you’re reading while someone is talking to you) and more empathetic. A 2006 study by York University found that
readers tend to have a greater capacity for empathy than non-readers, in part because readers spend so much time immersed in the stories and experiences of others. Empathy is definitely something we could all use a lot more of in the world today. 6 You’ll support new writers — or at least new books.
Though the stats change every so often, a tried-and-true average is that only about the top 10% (or significantly less, depending on who you believe) of writers — note: that’s book authors — make a living off of their writing alone. If we’re talking fiction writers, the numbers are notably even smaller. And yet — books rock. So what actually gives? Reading a new book each month this year (and then making all the folks you recommend it to buy their own copies) allows you to do your small part in supporting the new writers and books you've discovered and love.
7 Book clubs make it easy.
book subscription boxes, to online book clubs, to the old school “lets-get-wine-and-read-together-in-my-living-room” gatherings, book clubs make it easier than ever to get your monthly diet of new literature — and they’ll help you stay accountable to actually reading it. Can’t think of a book club you already want to join? Start your own! It’ll be just one more thing your besties will thank you for. 8 You’ll learn something new.
Sure, 140 characters is good for getting you to click on that trending
New York Times article every once in a while, but there are few things like the knowledge — be it intellectual or emotional — that comes from reading a brand new book, cover to cover. There’s also something about the fact that an ad will never, ever pop up in a print book and distract you from what you’re learning that’s also key. 9 Reading is definitely part of the resistance.
From digging deep into the history of civil disobedience to modern guides on successful protest, books that promoted diversity and intersectionality to those that reminded us what we all have in common, reading was definitely a huge part of the resistance in 2017. And let me tell you: we might have all bid last year goodbye, but our roles in the resistance are only just beginning. So consider
reading your way through the resistance this year, with the books that will inspire you and teach you something important about the ways we all live in the world.