Essays

A Reading Resolution

By posted at 9:18 am on January 1, 2009 5

I don’t put much stock in the New Years resolution – I don’t think you need the calendar to dictate self-improvement – however, I will acknowledge (and have acknowledged in the past) that the dawning of a new year does seem like an opportune moment to try out something new. In fact, The Millions was the offspring of a New Years resolution in 2003.

As 2002 drew to a close, I bought myself a Moleskine notebook and resolved, as I had many times in the past, to begin keeping a journal. It started off reasonably well, but it was soon clear that this resolution was taking the trajectory of so many others: strict adherence to the plan at the outset followed by swiftly plummeting interest. One thing I did keep up with, in this little journal of mine, was making note of the books I’d been reading.

I eventually switched from writing in the journal to writing for the blog to see if that would motivate me (after fits and starts, it did). But it was the idea of keeping track of and reflecting on what I read that helped inspire The Millions and gave purpose to what I read. It also made me a much better reader.

The obvious reading-related resolution is to read “x” number of books this year or to finally tackle Proust or Pynchon, but committing yourself to just keep track of what you read and trying to jot down a few words about each book may have a longer lasting impact on who you are as a reader. It all goes back to the notion that we can only read a finite number of good books in our lifetime, so we may as well make the most of them, even if that means just keeping a list so you can jog your memory and recall the experience of reading this or that book. At its best, reflecting on what you read better enables you to take what is essentially a solitary pastime and use it to build a library of knowledge to mull over and share. Happy New Year, everyone!





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5 Responses to “A Reading Resolution”

  1. Laurie
    at 11:45 am on January 1, 2009

    I've never been able to keep a diary, but starting in 2005 began a "book journal" record of books read. It has been fun to maintain. The back of the journal (actually a series of thick little spiral-ring notebooks) contains an ever-growing, frequently revised list of books "to-be-read" that changes as I read reviews in The Millions and elsewhere. I will never read everything in my journal's list, but at least it provides a dream library of great titles, some of which I do read. Thanks for your online posts, Max. May you read only the best in 2009!

  2. Poornima
    at 1:08 pm on January 1, 2009

    Keeping a book journal is a great idea. I have been doing it for the past couple of years and the list of "books to read" just keeps getting longer.

    Thank you for the wonderful posts on the Millions, Max. Hope you and your team have a wonderful '09!

  3. Anonymous
    at 2:57 pm on January 1, 2009

    I use GoodReads as an online book journal, and as a place to keep track of my list of "to-read" books. I agree that keeping a reading journal makes one a better reader. Happy New Year, and thanks for your work on The Millions.

  4. Anonymous
    at 8:53 am on January 2, 2009

    I bought a little book reading journal to record books I read and info about each one. I've been using it for about 2 years and really enjoy writing in it after I finish each book. I also keep a copy of "books to read" that I revise on the computer and that I tuck away in the journal.

  5. Amber
    at 9:42 pm on January 4, 2009

    I've been keeping a book journal since I was in high school (early 2000s) and I get a kick out of reading what I was into as a 14-year old. However, keeping a journal has been a challenge. I have at least eight journals with the first ten pages written in them, then nothing. Every few months or so I buy a new one with the hopes of starting anew. But you're doing a lot better than me, you have a blog.

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