RES­O­LU­TIONS BY THE WAY­SIDE

Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Michelle Anne Schingler

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.

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