A Resolute 2017: A Reading List

Photo: Kevin Cole

In 2016, I published my New Year’s resolutions on Longreads. As 2017 dawns, I thought I’d check in with my old self, dust off 2016’s goals and set some new intentions.

1. Alas, I never did make it to Iceland, but I did a lot of domestic travel in 2016. In Washington State, I touched the Pacific Ocean for the first time and slept on a sailboat. In Asheville, I got a new tattoo and swooned inside Firestorm Books & Cafe. I saw friends and family marry in Richmond and Chautauqua. I saw Deaf West perform Spring Awakening and the one-weekend revival of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater in NYC. I even visited Foamhenge! (That’s me in the photo above.) I’m returning to Asheville in 2017; beyond that, I have no concrete travel plans. Feel free to sponsor me on a trip to the ends of the Earth and back! I’ll write about it! For now, I’m seeing the world via the following essays from 2016:

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2. Last year, I wanted to write more, and I did. I continued to write here at Longreads, and I wrote articles for Baltimore OUTLoud, the Washington Spectator, and Wanderlust. I blogged weekly for Curious Iguana, my hometown’s indie bookstore.

In no particular order, here are some of the reading lists of 2016 I’m most proud of:

In 2017, I want to make time to write in the first place. This year is shaping up to be even busier than the last; I accepted new responsibilities at a non-profit, and I’m stage managing a play. 2017, then, is all about staying organized and sticking to deadlines in my writing life. I need to know my limits, not take on too much, and follow through on my commitments.

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3. My third resolution for 2016 was to read more, and read the books I already own. The “read more” portion wasn’t a problem—as a bookseller, I’m expected to keep current on new releases and galleys of unpublished works. Thanks to Goodreads, I could track how many books I read in 2016. As of writing this, I’ve read 125 books. I use Pocket to track how many articles, essays, and other online content I consume throughout the year. According to their algorithm, the amount of text I’ve consumed is equivalent to reading 140 books. That’s 265 books total. I’m proud of that number.

As for “read the books I already own,” that didn’t happen. In 2017, I’m vowing (yet again) to stop buying books, save for special occasions. I’ll allow myself to buy one book per bookstore that I visit on vacation, and if I’m going to see an author read live, I can buy their book to have signed. That’s it! Hold me to it, y’all!

For those of you who aren’t undertaking optimistic book-buying bans, you have so much to look forward to in 2017: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay; Priestdaddy, memoir from poet and hilarious person Patricia Lockwood; a stunning novel called Perfect Little World from Kevin Wilson…the list goes on and on. Nylon released “50 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2017,” and I’m eagerly awaiting The Millions’ gigantic “Most Anticipated” preview. In the meantime, some of your favorite novelists shared their 2017 resolutions with LitHub.

If you’re up for a few more best-of lists, don’t miss these excellent longform roundups:

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4. My final resolution in 2016 was to put on my running shoes. And I did it! Only a few times, but I discovered they are very comfortable. I also discovered that I sweat a lot when I exercise. I’m still working towards the perfect ratio of sleep and working out in the morning. Right now, sleep is winning. So I’ll keep that resolution intact. Morning alarm off, running shoes on, door open: 2017, I’m coming for you.