RESOLUTIONS BY THE WAYSIDE
As a general rule, I don’t believe in reading resolutions.
Blame the realization that most resolutions are undone before they’re even made. Lofty goals sometimes require reconfigurations that are heftier than our good intentions. You may sign up at the gym or acquire a few phrases of French or bake a pie for the new neighbor, but then life gets back in the way. C’est la vie. There’s always next year.
Reading resolutions tend to be less intrusive. They’re often about aspiring to read a certain number of books, or restricting ourselves to certain kinds of reading, all in the name of expanded awareness. But there are trade-offs: the author you read every year may not make the cut. Or, you may run out of time to hit your numerical goal. You cheat. You feel awful. And so you quit.
I’m wary of setting myself up for perceived reading failures, and so I tend not to restrict myself in the first place. Anyway, I think of myself as pretty well-read: voracious and curious and capable of opining aplenty on books. I’m pretty sure there are very few literary corners that I haven’t explored.
That conviction was recently called into question by a trivia game.
Trivial Pursuit: Book Lover’s Edition—should have been a breeze, right? I envisioned myself pulling off that masterful trick of completing the game before my opponent had even rolled their dice. Give me a category, any category: I’ve got your answers ready. Instead, I discovered my own blind spots: a lack of familiarity with 1990s nonfiction tomes. Blanks when it came to the secondary titles of major writers. I cannot tell you anything about Janet Evanovich’s childhood.
I may not be into reading resolutions, but I DO like to win. Rest assured, this year I will be brushing up on the books and genres I know less well.
There are so many opportunities in this issue for other readers to do the same. Our features focus on voices from the margins---including the margins of your map. Women’s stories, and the stories of writers of color, are at the fore, and these books cross genres even within their features. Check out Ross Gay’s starred essay collection for a year’s worth of lovely meditations, or Amberjack’s I Am Yours for a personal story of navigating womanhood and all that that implies.
When rereading these reviews, I found myself excited more than once by titles that would not traditionally be my first choices. There’s an opportunity there, too; read the issue through, and find yourself inspired to read an unexpected book. You’ll come away better for it, that’s a guarantee.
We’ll be reading right along with you. My resolve may not be title specific, but I’m going to win that game.