I am not a big fan of New Year's resolutions (for all the obvious reasons). I do, however, like getting excited about the New Year. It's not so much about wiping the slate clean, but more about having a guilt-free opportunity to carefully prune your priorities. I think it's a great excuse to start again with the to-do list, and redraft the bundle of ideas that you've been having about new things that might make you smile.
With that in mind, I have been mulling about how best to use my mind and my notebooks in 2013...
I've been seeing and hearing a lot lately about the dangers of reading too much inside our own comfort zones. Book Riot referred to it as "reading in a bubble". Humans have always been influenced by the social groups that are already predetermined to contain ideas and preferences that they already enjoy. The difference now, however, is that computers and algorithms are making that circle of suggestions even smaller, and the opportunities to spot something outside of our norm even rarer. I am therefore making a concerted effort to sprinkle my 'to-read' list with a few unexpected, unknown or plain odd choices to see where they take me.
Therefore, here are the first four books on my 2013 bedside pile:
Jonathan Lethem: The Ecstasy of Influence - I started this last year when it was partially outside my bubble, and it turned out to be my first affair in a new love of nonfiction. At page 101 I got distracted by all the ideas it was sparking, and I desperately want to go back and absorb the rest.
Viktor Mayer-Schonberger: Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age - Another half-in, half-out choice bubble wise. Chosen just before Christmas whilst perusing the computing section in Waterstones, a section which until a few months ago would not have even registered on my radar, I am putting this in my 'going outside my bubble' column. It turns out I find technology rather fascinating...who knew?
Helen Gurley Brown: Sex and the Single Girl - This is well within my comfort zone. Totally and completely. It is a seminal work in terms of feminisn, popular culture, American culture and sex. I absolutely should have read it. This year I will.
Max Brooks: World War Z - "An oral history of the zombie war". This is my real foray outside of not only my comfort zone, but my everything zone. I have never read a zombie or horror related book of any kind. The best I've managed is watching 28 Days Later. This particular choice was recommended by a friend, and due to my commitment to stray outside of my norm, I decided to listen and prepare for the best.
Alongside the reading, I also plan to initiate some extra writing in this non-resolution. After reading the L.A. Times '15 literary resolutions for 2013' I have decided to start a literary diary. I shall keep note of the books I have read and the thoughts they spark throughout the year and hopefully I shall end up with, as C. Max Magee refers to it, "a little literary diary that marks your year by the books you read." I think I'd rather like that.