Every January I make a commitment to try to read at least 12 fiction books in the year. For the past five years, I have been setting this goal and for the past five years I have come up slightly short. For some reason, I never seem to make time to read books for pleasure. So much of my job is reading, I often see reading a good novel as a chore at the end of a long day. Reading before going to sleep gives me wild dreams, no matter what the book. Therefore, my 12-novel goal has yet to be accomplished. This year, because I am putting it in writing for all to read, I hope to accomplish my goal of reading 12 novels in the calendar year.
I have spoken to many friends in various occupations, and they have admitted that they haven’t read for pleasure in quite some time. There seems to be a sense of urgency surrounding our lives these days between social media, tracking the whims and daily lies of the president and just an overwhelming sense of needing to get other things done either for oneself or others. However, I would implore all of us to stop and slow down just a bit and take time to read. I believe it was E.B. White who said, “We read to know we are not alone.” I find that statement absolutely true, even when reading novels about galaxies and situations that have nothing to do with my daily life.
In addition to setting the goal of 12 books this year, I realized there are so many great books that have been published in the past year, as well as so many classics I have yet to read or books I haven’t read in years and should revisit with a new set of eyes. My favorite books I’ve read the past few years have been books I’ve read with my then middle-school-aged niece. We do not live in the same city. Therefore, we read her assigned books together and discuss them as a family. It has been a great way to connect with her over a love of literature, as well as see her analytical and empathetic development over the years. I’ve also been able to reread some classics such as “Animal Farm,” “1984” and “The Great Gatsby,” as well as discover new and incredibly talented young adult authors.
I am especially excited to (re)read many of the works by James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Mark Twain this year. I think their words will help explain the current political moment and hopefully serve as a slight road map moving forward. What books have your attention this year? Write to us and let us know.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC and the host of The Aftermath on Ozy.com.