Listen, Let Me Suggest a New Year’s Resolution for Your Reading Life

27 Dec
So, do y’all have any New Year’s Resolutions for your reading life?*

If having a books resolution sounds a little insane, I feel you. But here you are, reading a book blog, so there’s that. And anyway, I like to think of resolutions as flexible guidelines, ideas that influence choices, rather than unbreakable rules. Perhaps the mere act of thinking about how you’d like to improve or change your reading life will help you think about it differently.

So, what if you resolved to contact authors and writers when you read something you love?

We all love getting fan mail. And I’m not talking about the fan mail where you have to have your burly Marine friend pay the sender a late-evening visit, but the good kind — the kind that makes you smile and renews your faith in people and burns 100 calories all at once.

I’ve been doing this for years. I remember the day I was so enthralled with Lauren Grodstein’s fantastic novel, The Monsters of Templeton, that I called in sick to a former job. When I finished the book, I immediately went online, figured out how to contact her, and sent her an email telling her just what I’d done with my day, and how much her book meant to me. She replied, and I smiled, my faith renewed in people, and burned 100 calories at once, because that’s good karma.

Since then, I do this as often as I can. It never “goes anywhere” — I haven’t been sent autographed first editions, or invited to any private launch parties, or recommended to anyone’s agent — but that’s not the point, is it? I don’t even use my blog email address, because it’s not about the blog, or even me.

It’s about telling someone they made a difference in my life. That’s all I want any resolution to be.

*I started this particular category of resolution last year. Inspired by a friend’s 100 Great Books project, I made my own list of 98 books I wanted to read. Why I couldn’t make it to 100 might have something to do with why I’ve only finished 9, but that’s another tale for another therapist’s couch. This time around, I’m resolving to read more of the books I own and fewer from the public library. As soon as I finish emitting a keening wail, I’ll figure out why the hell I chose to do this. So, you know, it’ll be awhile.


8 Responses to “Listen, Let Me Suggest a New Year’s Resolution for Your Reading Life”

  1. Neil December 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    That’s a great idea. I think because of blogging and social media, we are also given more access to writers than ever before, even if in limited ways. I read three books this year by people associated with my online world, including your friend Camille, and it really blew me away to be able to actually chat with them about their books online. While I might not get that access as easily with all novelists, I am much more likely nowadays to send off a tweet to a writer saying how much I enjoyed a specific book.

    • Sarah December 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

      Neil, exactly. Social media, even author blogs, have opened a whole new door.

      I know Camille really appreciated your coming to her book party. What’s the likelihood of making that connection (not to mention showing her that support) before the internet? It’s amazing. Publishing isn’t dead, and neither are human relationships.

  2. Ann's Rants December 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    This is great suggestion. I try to always let people know how much I love their work, but haven’t reached out to someone offline in a while.

    The few times I’ve heard from people out of the blue (non bloggers) that have emailed me b/c they like something I’ve written has made me BEAM and save their emails in an encouragement file.

    • Sarah December 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

      Online or off, I think it’s a privilege to add to someone’s encouragement file. It so cheesy, but we never know how much we positively impact people.

  3. krittabug December 27, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    This is such a cool idea! I like good deeds and smiling and karma and being nice. *high five*

    • Sarah December 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

      *high five returnsies*

  4. Fran December 28, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Great suggestion! Last year I resolved to read more, which I did. I also managed to meet one author. I’d love to convince Camille to come to Texas, but getting to know her via social media is almost as nice. I like the notion of making the follow-up standard practice. I’ll put that on my list for 2011.

  5. Fran January 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    In a bizarre twist of fate I seem to be reading a series of books by dead authors. But I’ve not forgotten this objective! I will now purposefully choose to read a book by a living person.

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