Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reading Resolutions for 2007

In 2007, I plan to do the following:

1. Begin my Virginia Woolf project in earnest: For more than a year now I have been plotting to read Julia Briggs’ Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life and to read (or reread) Woolf’s novels, short stories, and essays chronologically alongside it. Briggs' book focuses squarely on the work, with each chapter devoted to the genesis, writing process, and reception of one or a group of Woolf’s books, so it’s the perfect framing device for my reading project. Over the past year I have filled most of the gaps in my Woolf library and I’m ready to begin.

2. Make good on my plan to institute a monthly “Small Press Spotlight” feature: At the end of June, I announced that I was launching a new feature called “Small Press Spotlight” on this blog. This is how I described the endeavour: “At least once per month, I’ll shine the spotlight on a different small/indie press whose books I think deserve your attention. I’ll tell you a bit about the history of the press and, where editors are willing to talk to me, its editorial vision. Then I’ll highlight three or four recent titles that have convinced me that any book the press publishes is worth a look.” Alas, I did not follow through in 2006, but I will do so in 2007.

3. Keep a more detailed reading journal: This blog is my most detailed reading journal as far as my response to individual books goes, but its scope is limited. I don’t document everything that I read here and I don’t want to. My comprehensive list of books read originally took the form of a hand-written reading journal. Last year, I abandoned that in favour of keeping a virtual list on LibraryThing. The latter is very convenient, particularly when it comes to generating year end stats. But I think that I lost more than I gained in the switch as I stopped keeping track even of the dates that I started and finished books. Thus I have no record of the ebb and flow of my reading in 2006 nor of the books that I started but didn’t finish. This year, I’m going to resurrect my hand-written reading journal and to increase the detail of it, recording not just dates started and finished but also what led me to pick up each book in the first place, where it came from and so on. I’m inspired in this by Carl V. who wrote in his New Year’s post of being “very interested in how mood, time of year, outside influences, blog book reviews, challenges, etc. effects what [he] read[s]” and of his intention to explore these things by keeping a more detailed reading record. I share his interest in these facets of the reading life and I plan explore them in similar fashion.

4. Read books from a broader range of countries and which originate in a broader range of languages than in previous years: For the last two years, more than 95% of the books that I’ve read were originally written in English by authors from Canada, the U.S. or the UK. It’s time to expand my reading horizons. I’m plotting a reading challenge to address this which I will outline in my next post.

5. Become more diligent about making blog comments and responding to them: This isn’t a reading resolution, but it’s entirely blog-related so it belongs here all the same. My reading life is enriched enormously by reading other people’s blogs and by the comments that readers of this blog make in response to my posts. Often, however, when I’m feeling stressed out and pressed for time, I don’t manage to post the comments that occur to me in response to the many insightful and though-provoking blog entries that I read elsewhere. Nor do I manage to respond regularly to the very interesting comments that readers generously leave here. I will endeavour to change that this year. I agree with Litlove and Cam and others who have written recently about the enormous value not just of litblogs themselves but of the exchanges and discussions that emanate from them. I want to participate more fully in those exchanges and discussions than I have in the past and to thereby become a better blog citizen. My deepest thanks to all of you for adding so much to my reading life. Happy New Year!


Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

These are wonderful resolutions! I'll be cheering you on.

David Hodges said...

That's quite a list of resolutions, Kate! More than enough for one person who also, presumably, has other obligations as well.

I've been keeping track of your posts by subscribing to your feed through Bloglines. Do you find that helps you, too?

If you actually do find the time to visit and comment on other blogs, you would be most welcome at mine, where I promise to entertain and enrich you, in just 299 words, then send you on your way with something new to think about (as you do me, though without the strict word count)!


See you when you find a minute.

Ex Libris said...

Those are well thought out resolutions, Kate. I the idea, too, of tracking the motivation behind buying a particular book. I am going to try to do that, too. I've really enjoyed your blog this past year. I have learned so much from it!

Sara said...

Nice resolutions. Writing in my blog has made me realize that I too read far too few foreign works. I think part of the reason though is that I don't like the idea that things are being lost in translation. Of course, I guess I'm losing the whole work if I don't bother reading it at all just because it's translated!

Anyway, good luck on your resolutions! :)

Dark Orpheus said...

I'm interested in Julia Brigg's Woolf bio for a while now. But for some reason I have yet to pick it up.

Your idea for the Small Press Spotlight is great. It's often the small presses that need the extra help through word-of-mouth, and they work so hard to give unknown writers a voice in the world.

I realise it's easier to keep a more detailed reading diary when I use a paper journal instead. With blogging, sometimes I become overly conscious that what interest me might not interest others.

But sometimes it's fascinating to look back at your past journal entries, and go - Huh? I wrote this? ;)

Good luck on the plans to broader your reading. I'm trying to do that myself. This year I'm hoping to read a few more Turkish writers - not just Orhan Pamuk. But I realise a lot of the time, translations are not available, or they have gone out of print.

Everyone seems to have set great resolutions except me. hmm.

Anonymous said...

honestly, kate

from what I've seen of your fiction, you should do all of these things, including blogging, 10th.

Dorothy W. said...

I'm so intrigued by your Virginia Woolf project, and if I had more time ... sigh. But after reading Richard Holmes's book on biography, I've got the urge to dive into one author deeply.

Commenting and commenting on other people's comments takes a lot of time -- it's wonderful to be able to do it, but it really is a commitment. I completely understand why it would be something you might drop when you are stressed. But I look forward to seeing more of your comments around the book blog world!

Pauline said...

Nice resolutions. I'd like to read Julia Briggs' as well, but in 2006 it found it too impressive too tackle. I'll try again this year. I'll be interested to read your opinion on it. Happy New Year Kate!

litlove said...

Happy New Year, Kate! these are wonderful, precise, and thoughtful resolutions and I look forward to seeing you carry them out (I know you will). It's commenting on other's posts that goes first when I'm up against time deadlines. It really is difficult to get around so many great sites and do people's posts justice. But I always think you make fantastic comments when you do visit, and at the end of the day, quality always beats quantity.

LK said...

Excellent resolutions! I will join you in the Virginia Woolf expedition. I, too bought, An Inner Life and would like to read alongside it, as you suggest.

Danielle said...

Great resolutions. I am doing a mini-Woolf project--following along at a much slower pace with Susan Hill and her Woolf for Dummies. I have only read The Voyage Out and am ready to move on to Night and Day. I look forward to reading your Woolf posts this year! As for commenting--I love reading comments--they are what makes the whole blog thing fun for me--the virtual conversaion, but it is really hard to keep it up daily-you have to just fit in what you can! I am already behind this year...and I was just on vacation, so am now trying to catch up on all the posts I missed--a wealth of information!! :)

Linda said...

Great resolutions, they made me think. I, too, decided that this will be the year I become more intentional with my reading. I need to also be a more consistent reviewer and merge my blog posts with more book reviews.