Sunday, 1 January 2012

Falling into the New Year's resolution trap...

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that hardly anyone, ever, keeps their New Year's resolutions. 

And yet we still continue to make them, because it is in our nature to want to believe in the power of change and to hope that the coming year we will an improvement on the gnarly bits of the last year that we didn't like.

I'm not going to include the obvious - eat healthily, exercise, lose a bit of weight - because that will be a given to anyone who knows that:
  • I bought a Food Doctor diet book with book vouchers that I got for Christmas
  • I have been wearing skirts and dresses to work for a while now because my trousers have all made the fateful journey from uncomfortable to unwearable. 
I did the resolution thing last year here, and I feel chastened to notice with a sense of deja vu that what I am writing now is disturbing similar to what I wrote then.  A little part of me shrivelled inside when I read my challenge to the reader at the end to ask me if I kept my resolutions.  Since you ask, I didn't.

But I am still going to naively make a resolution, which is based on my experience of reading Susan Hill's, "Howards End is on the Landing."  In this book, Susan Hill decided to spend a year of reading from home: she would only read/re-read books that she has on her bookshelves, not buy anything new and not be swayed into buying the latest fashionable title or borrowing books from the library.

As I have many books on my shelves that I have not read - I get tempted by books from the library rather than reading the books that I take for granted at home - this sounds like a good idea.  However, I don't think that I can do this in its pure form as espoused by Susan Hill.  My mother did make the point that, as libraries are having funding cut, this would not be the best time to stop frequenting them.  So I think that I will set down some ground rules for an adulterated version of Susan Hill's challenge:
  • I will continue to support the library but, for every book I borrow, I will read one from my shelves that I have been intending to read for ages
  • I can't give up my weekly pilgrimage to Smiths to check what the book of the week is, but I will only buy it if it is something that I already wanted (I pretty much do that already, so that shouldn't be too difficult to keep)
  • I am still allowed to buy any new book by my favourite authors, as I would normally do.  So if Janet Evanovich has a new book out I am allowed to get it (highly likely, as she is very prolific), likewise Howard Jacobson (possible) or Michael Ondaatje (highly unlikely, as "The Cat's Table" came out in 2011 and his books tend to have a long gestation period)
  • I'm still deciding on whether I am allowed to buy an e-book a month, as I decided a while ago.  Maybe I can convince myself that I need to support authors and the publishing industry, as well as libraries?

Actually, now I think about it, this has been adulterated so much that it isn't much of a resolution.  I might actually manage to keep this....

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