Yep, it’s that time again! Are you a New Year’s Resolution person? I still think about this post I wrote back in 2014 about how I feel about New Year’s resolutions—an opinion that hasn’t changed. I have, however, been trying out the One-Word Resolutions for the past several years. They’ve included: Invest, Commit, Believe, Persevere, Flow, and Elasticity. I don’t always have them front and center in my mind, but some years I’ve found them a great way to find focus in achieving goals.
This year I’m choosing my most concrete of words: “De-Clutter”. I think it is pretty self-explanatory, but it resonated with me because of the more intangible ways it will help me, too. My life (like all of yours), can get pretty full of distractions. I’m releasing a book in a couple of months (yippee!), but wow, working on all the logistics for it and the marketing has taken up A LOT of my time. I’m not saying all of it was clutter, but I know I’m letting too much of my brain get distracted by it. It’s taking away from writing, the true joy behind publishing. I think about work and all the posts I’ve spent talking about focusing on social-emotional learning for students and how I want to continue my efforts at prioritizing what is necessary and what is important. And what about personally? What clutter is getting in my way at accomplishing other, more personal goals?
I’m excited for this grounding resolution. What about you? Share your goals or words with me because I really want to know them!
Speaking of resolutions, goals, and the inevitability of feeling like you’re failing at them (what? too negative for the first post of the year? YOU ALL KNOW IT’S TRUE), here’s a little encouragement (see, not all negative) from Tiffany Yates Martin, who talks about the creative cycle. I’ve learned to respect this cycle, even if it’s not always easy during the “lying fallow” stage. Although, it’s super challenging when certain stages last longer than we think they should and if you’re on contract, some steps might need a nudge. (I’m pretty sure Martin has blog posts about how to manage that, too.)
I’ve been seeing a lot of “best reads of 2021” posts on Instagram lately, and SO many of them don’t include a single book by an author of color or some other underrepresented population (although, I recognize the latter category is not always obviously known). I’m going to be blunt: if your “best of” list is 100% white, you’re not reading very widely. And if that statement raised your hackles or triggered your defense mechanisms, first I’d like you to ask yourself why, and second, I want you to take a moment after that and think about what you can do to change. Because it matters, even if you aren’t a book blogger, bookstagrammer, or booktokker. Books by BIPOC authors, which are already underrepresented in lists and publishing statistics, are getting hit hard by states who are pushing back on (the grossly misunderstood) CRT. Reading for broader representation is not only offers a small, yet potentially impactful way of boosting stories, but it will also enrich you.
Back in 2017, when I started to track the kinds of books I read, my BIPOC+ percentage of books read was at 20%. I don’t know if that is a great or poor percentage to you, but it was a wake-up call to me, since my goal had been to read much more diversely. Since then, I’ve made choices to very deliberately increase that percentage dramatically. This past year? 60%.
Here’s what I did over the past several years. I starred books in my TBR list that fell into the #ownvoices category (which is becoming a deprecated hashtag, but that’s a different post), and I started following sites and accounts that highlighted books by authors who are part of underrepresented/oppressed populations. Here are some links for you:
https://bookriot.com/ This site offers book recommendations like crazy and they have committed to having a specific percentage represent our population. I’ve gotten so many great recs from this site.
(Side note: Book Riot is the site that got me tracking the specificity of my books. Here’s a link to the 2022 Reading Log, including a “walk-through” video.)
https://www.bipocbookshelf.com/ Looking for a specific genre or category? Huge database!
And here’s a little extra fun: last year Middle Child created a pushpin map for me to track the setting of the books I read. I’m a little disappointed in myself for not having more pins outside of the U.S, but it was still fun to do.
I had mixed feelings about doing a “top reads of 2021” or “favorites” or “best of” and I’ve now landed on skipping it. If you follow me on Goodreads, subscribe to my newsletter, or follow me on Instagram, you know what I’ve loved.
Currently Reading – Audio: Love Your Life (A) – Sophie Kinsella
Currently Reading—Print: Doctors and Friends (A) – Kimmery Martin
Song of the Week:
I’m working on a rom-com novel right now (alternating it with a sister-brother story also in-progress) and with every novel I work on, I develop a playlist. This is a catchy tune on it that has been in my head. I like the message and I love the tune. Feels like a great way to start the year, too.