It's a new year. The thing about a new year is that it's usually just like the old one. Nothing magical happens at midnight. You aren't granted magical resolution powers with the turning of the annual digit. If you want to make a resolution, do it whenever you want.
In fact, resolving to make a change in your life precisely at the time you're most ready to make that change is when you're more likely to stick to it. Putting off a change you're ready for right now (because you're waiting for the new year) is a good way to lose your resolve. Changing something right now (because it's the new year right now) when it would make more sense to wait a couple of months is also a good way to lose your resolve.
That said, I have a goal. Not so much a resolution, because I'm not really changing any habits for this one, but the time frame is prompted by an external source. I keep track of everything I read on GoodReads, and the site offers a reading challenge. In the calendar year of 2012, I can choose to read a specific number of books, and GoodReads will track my progress for me. I can change my goal whenever I want.
Perusing the statistics from past years, it looks as though I have read ludicrous numbers of books some years, but not all of them count. Some books are children's books (quite a lot lately, as I have been reading as many Caldecott Medal winners and honor books as I can get my hands on), and many of them are reference books. While I don't necessarily read a reference book cover to cover, I still like to review the ones I've come across for my own future needs. I also re-read books I like.
What GoodReads doesn't do is allow you to choose which books count toward your reading goal. I don't want to count books that I can read in 10 minutes, or books that are really meant for just looking things up. I do want to count books I finished for the first time some other year, but I read again this year. So, my reading goal tracker on Goodreads falls short, but that's not gonna stop me from reading.
Here's what I read in 2011 (including re-reads, excluding picture and reference books)
1. Taking Sides by Gary Soto
2. The Skirt by Gary Soto
3. A Meeting at Corvallis by S.M. Stirling
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
7. The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein by Robert A. Heinlein
8. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris
9. Camping Therapy: Its Uses in Psychiatry and Rehabilitation by Thomas P. Lowry
10. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
12. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
13. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
14. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
15. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
16. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
18. Kidnapping the Lorax by Patricia K. Lichen
19. The Professor's Daughter by Emily Raboteau
20. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
21. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
22. Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
23. Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
24. The Wannabes by F.R. Jameson
25. Son of Raven, Son of Deer: Fables of the Tse-Shaht People by George Clutesi
26. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
27. Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
28. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
29. The Brothers K by David James Duncan
30. The Devil in the Details by E.B. Maxwell
31. Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields by William B. Seabrook
32. Was it a Dream? by Guy de Maupassant
33. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou
34. What Would McGyver Do? by Brendan Vaughan
35. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Thats 11,831 pages, an average of 338 pages per book.
Books that I started in 2011, but I'm not done with yet are:
36. Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury
37. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
38. The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco
39. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
40. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
There are some patterns in this list... I felt compelled to re-read the Harry Potter book series one more time before seeing the final installment of the movie series. There is a healthy smattering of young adult fiction and science fiction / fantasy, both of which are inspired by what people around me are reading most. It doesn't take much for me to want to read something I hear about, or see sitting on someone's shelf.
And yes, I frequently have approximately 5 books that I am in the middle of reading. I have no problem keeping them straight, and I can set one aside for months sometimes, and pick right back up in the narrative without too much trouble. People sometimes ask me what kinds of books I like to read, and I really don't have an answer to that. I will read basically anything anyone puts in front of me, as long as it's good. I'll read all kinds of fiction, non-fiction, and sometimes I do read those reference books cover-to-cover.
So, 40 books seems like a reasonable goal for 2012. I have some other resolutions, too, but internal motivation is enough for me. What are your goals for 2012?