Reading resolutions

3 Jan
After completing my Top Ten Favorite Books of 2011, I was left with the feeling that I’ve allowed myself to fall into a few reading ruts this past year. I often read to alleviate a situation I’m absorbed by in my real life; when I’m stuck in the house too much, my tastes fall in the fantasy adventure genre. When I’m stressed at work, only some fluffy romance will do. What I noticed when I reviewed what I read in 2011, though, was that I’d gravitated toward light, non-challenging reading most of the time. Now, I don’t want to say that fantasy or YA  or romance (genres that I run to in times of stress) are not ever challenging, because that’s absolutely not true. There’s a range of seriousness and challenge in every genre and I’ve had incredibly thought-provoking and life-altering experiences reading in these genres. I only mean to say that I haven’t busted out of my comfort zone this past year; I’ve gravitated to authors, books, and genres that I know make me feel warm and cozy inside. So, it’s time for me to bust out and try something new! Time for me to expand my horizons! Here are a couple of low-pressure (because reading should be fun, and I’m not into giving myself homework) reading resolutions for 2012:

  1. More classics: I used to read more classics than I do now, although I still read Jane Austen fairly regularly. But that’s really kind of pitiful. I already know I love Austen – it’s time to branch out. As an English major, I’ve read my fair share of classics, but it’s been a few years. Next up for me in classics is Virginia Woolf (I want to re-read A Room of One’s Own) and I want to delve into Russian literature. I’ve never successfully read Dostoevsky, though I have read some of Chekhov’s plays.
  2. More international literature: this kind of falls in line with reading some Russian literature, but I want to expand on that theme by reading more international authors in general. I’d love to read some African, Asian, and Eastern European authors. I’m truly starting with a blank slate here, so if anyone has any suggestions, pipe up!
  3. More non-fiction: I’ve really dropped off on reading non-fiction this year. This used to be a reading mainstay for me – armchair travel, foodie lit, books about books, I’ve read heavily in these subjects for years, but have experienced a drop-off of late. I did read several of the National Geographic Directions series in the past year, which has well-established authors like Oliver Sacks and Jamaica Kincaid write about locations that speak to them. Maybe I’ll try a little of Oliver Sacks’ medical non-fiction?

10 Responses to “Reading resolutions”

  1. Eva January 3, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I love all of Oliver Sacks’ books, so you can’t go wrong there! 🙂

    What type of African/Asian/E European lit are you looking for? I’m sure I can help you!

    • Amanda January 3, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Eva, I’m sure you can help me too! I’d love to read some modern-day Japanese literature – I’ve heard a bit about Banana Yoshimoto, but I’m not sure. I’m totally lost with the Eastern European realm – I don’t know where to start! As for Africa, I thought I’d start with Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie (you love her, right?). I love to read books centered on women’s lives, if that helps you with any recommendations.

  2. Rebecca January 3, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Have you tried Isabel Allende ( She’s Peruvian American, so not from the Continent or Africa, but I really liked her Daughter of Fortune. I also like Anjali Banerjee (she’s the author who commented on my review of her novel Invisible Lives). She was born in India but grew up Stateside. I read some Australian fantasy authors and some Canadian, but I suppose you’re not interested in those. 🙂

    I was thinking of making a resolution to read more nonfiction, too. In 2010, I read 5 nonfiction. In 2011, I read only 3. And I like nonfiction. It’s just at the end of a work day, I’d much rather curl up with a beloved fantasy author. Oh, and I want to read more short stores. If you have any short story recommendations, let me know (or post about it) please!

    • Amanda January 3, 2012 at 11:37 am #

      I would love to hear about Australian or Canadian fantasy writers! (I’m not planning on abandoning my favorite genre full stop.) I’ve read a couple of Isabel Allende’s books (Daughter of Fortune and Aphrodite) and I love her. Banerjee is new to me, so I’ll give that a go! I’m endlessly interested in India as well, so that’s a bonus.

      I don’t read many short stories either, but one that I LOVED was Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu. She’s a quirky fantasy writer and her stories have just the right amount of…spookiness, I guess? I’ve been waiting for her to publish another book besides this and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (which I’ve already read twice).

      P.S. Did you see how you’re in my blogroll? Holla!

      • Rebecca January 3, 2012 at 11:50 am #

        I made the blogroll! So exciting. I just spent this morning updating my blog template…and you’re now on my blogroll! I decided my previous template was too dreary.

        Let’s see, foreign fantasy authors: Kelly Armstrong ( is Canadian (and isn’t her website beautiful!); hum, okay, I thought Karen Chance was from Australia, but she’s not. I’ve mixed her up with someone else and now I don’t remember who. Wow, that’s a sad “list” of foreign authors for me. LOL I thought I had more.

        • Rebecca January 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

          I found a foreign author I read: Robin McKinnley. She lives in England. So not exactly “exotic,” and I’m still hunting for that Aussie author I swear I remember, but at least I found one. 🙂

  3. Jessica Tripler (@ReadReactReview) January 3, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    Hi Amanda,

    I’m delighted to be on your blog roll with such great company. I need to read more international as well (although I do ok on British). I still love Coetzee for South African, although he has lived in Australia for a long time now, and is maybe too obvious a choice anyway. Nigerian Buchi Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood was a fantastic read. (I’m married to a historian who works on South Africa, and occasionally some of it seeps in).

    PS. Can’t find a subscribe button. Help?

    • Amanda January 3, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Hi Jessica! Yes, I’m a total fan of your blog – such thoughtful reviews!

      Ooh, Joys of Motherhood sounds fantastic! I did read some Coetzee in college, but that’s just a dim memory now.

      Ok, stupid new blogger question: is the subscribe button related to the RSS widget? I feel like it is, and if so, I can fix that!

      • Jessica Tripler (@ReadReactReview) January 5, 2012 at 7:56 am #

        sorry to disappear, life and all that, but yes, I mean, I woudl like to get your new posts in my Google feed reader, but I couldn’t find the RSS subscribe button. I am not technophile (thank God for WordPress), so I probably just missed it?

        • Amanda January 5, 2012 at 8:04 am #

          You know, I couldn’t figure it out either (and don’t apologize for disappearing – life is busy!), but I DID find a “follow” widget, which I’ve now got in my sidebar. Thanks for pointing out to me that I was missing something like. I swear, I learn something new on here every day!

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