I have a bone to pick with some Resolutioners.
What is it with all this, "These are the 12 books I plan to read in 2018!!"??
Back yourself into a corner much? Hmm?
Let me introduce you all to the magic that is the To Be Read List, a.k.a. "TBR" to those in the know. It's a wonderfully fluid, working document that is equally as frustrating as it is liberating.
But, PEOPLE, the MAGIC.
It goes like this:
Step 1: Flip to the back of your journal and title that page "TBR." Make it pretty if you must, but the genesis of this document will just as quickly show you how anything but reading is WASTING TIME in the world, because there is so much out there!
Step 2: Name a book you want to read. Do research if you must, but research will quickly become your enemy in the face of the TBR.
Step 3: Start reading the first book on your list. If you're already reading something, put that on your list, too. Crossing things off is the most cathartic of all activities.
Step 4: Tune your eyes and ears to what other people are reading. This is my absolute favorite way to add to my list. I mostly add books that have people TRULY gushing, or one's that people deem "obscure," or that many people haven't read (hipster at heart; I just can't pull off hats because my head's too big).
Step 5: Keep a paper bag nearby. I know your list is growing to Super Demagorgon status, but have no fear!
Step 6: Any time you finish a book, take inventory of how you feel. What do you want? (We hear you, Noah from The Notebook.) Do you want something light and funny that gradually veers toward politically and socially powerful? Go for Trevor Noah. Do you want to be transported to a different world, one that's crashing and burning as a few powerful characters rise up toward change? Dystopian for you, my friend. Do you want to learn something about your chosen profession, someone else's chosen profession, or America in the 1600's? The non-fiction world awaits you.
Step 7: Rinse, repeat, and always keep your list handy.
You see, I don't understand naming your books at the beginning of the year, because moods change! We change! Reading life is like a roller coaster, and I can't expect to know what I'll want to read and the order in which I will read them unless I knew my life at every turn for the next year. (Slowly, I'm realizing that's just not a thing, no matter how intently I attempt to plan it out.) The beauty of books is that they ebb and flow with our lives, they fill the cracks, they meet our intellectual needs, our self-care needs, our dreaming/learning needs, and so on.
Here are the first few on my list for the year:
1. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (super affordable in paperback)
2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (ironically, more affordable in hardback)
3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds--and everything else by Jason, for that matter.
How do you decide what to read next? Do you stick to a short list, or do you abide by the TBR practice?