37 literary resolutions for 2011. What’s yours?


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How to kick off 2011? You could try a new diet, promise to exercise or make one of those other standard resolutions. But for those who are literarily inclined, a resolution might come in another form -- and, with any luck, involve a lot of sitting down and reading. Dozens of writers and readers shared their bookish New Year’s resolutions with us. Join them and tell us yours.

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, author of the memoir ‘When Skateboards Will Be Free’ and Whiting Award recipient: Write one thousand words a day, every day, and try not to despise myself too terribly when I fail sometime around mid-January.


Janelle Brown, author of the novels ‘This Is Where we Live’ and ‘All We Ever Wanted Was Everything’: Stop reading Amazon and Goodreads reader comments about my books. For really reals this time.

Ned Vizzini, author of ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ and new Angeleno: I resolve for 2011 to move into a home with an actual bookshelf and get away from my current ‘pile system.’

Janet Fitch, author of ‘Paint it Black’ and ‘White Oleander.’ My book-related resolution for 2011: To converse more with my books. To write in the margins. To read books that irritate me, inspire me, challenge the way I write, or in some way cast new light on this crazy life we lead. And I also resolve to shape these conversations into essays for the new LA Review of Books, starting up this spring.

Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin: I resolve to follow my instincts, to read with joy and whimsy, to carve out time to read books for myself as well as for review. To read something not in galleys. Or to read only books in galleys, if that’s the way it goes. Most of all, I resolve to feel free to sidestep all my resolutions, since I never follow through on them anyway.

Dani Shapiro, author of ‘Devotion: A Memoir’: I am determined not to blog, tweet, check email, or shop for boots online before beginning each day working on my new novel. If I can’t manage this, I’m going to pull a Franzen and disable my laptop so that it best resembles a Smith Corona.

Vernon Lott, writer and director of the indie documentary ‘Bad Writing’: Complete my 1,000 plus page anti-technology manifesto.


Chad Post, editor of Open Letter Books: I have two main book resolutions for 2011: next year I’m going to give away as many books as I acquire, and I’m going to read 52 translated titles starting with Gunter Grass’s ‘The Box’ and the new Antonio Lobo Antunes title. With a little luck, I’ll post short reviews of all these books at Three Percent...

Rosecrans Baldwin, co-founder of the Morning News and author of the novel ‘You Lost Me There.’ My resolution for 2011 is to read more translated novels -- thank you, Granta #113. I got a head start with an advance copy of Peter Stamm’s ‘Seven Years’ and it terrified me (in a good way). Here’s to a terrifying 2011. Cheers.

Young adult writer Cecil Castellucci: Write something that terrifies me. This year, I swear I’m going to write a terrifying horror story. So scary that it will give me a nightmare. Or maybe I’ll write something really long, like a novel that breaks 40,000 words. Or maybe work on a piece for adults. Perhaps with some sexy in it. The point? For 2011 I resolve to break free from what I feel most comfortable writing and do something new.

Marcy Dermansky, author of the novel ‘Bad Marie’: Swim more. Swim more laps. Dive through more waves in the ocean. Float on my back and look up at the sky. Because the more I swim, the better I feel. The better I feel, the more I write. I did not swim enough this past year.

David Kipen, former NEA director of literature and owner of Libros Scmibros bookstore in Boyle Heights: Find my Kindle.

Los Angeles Times writer Deb Vankin: Read all my friends books (of 2010), finish ‘Infinite Jest,’ and finally buy one of those little, clip-on book lights, so I don’t keep my boyfriend up at night anymore.


Patrick Brown from Goodreads: This will be the year that I do it -- I’m finally going to read ‘Infinite Jest.’ I’ll be able to show my face in Brooklyn again!

Author and host of the reading series Vermin on the Mount, Jim Ruland: I resolve to be a better member of the Goodreads community. I read Goodreads every day and have come to depend on it for reviews, recommendations, and validation of my exceptional taste. But do I catalog the books I read in a timely manner? Nope. I’ll do better in 2011.

Joseph Mattson, author of the novel ‘Empty the Sun’: In 2011, maybe I’ll work on only three books at once instead of five--crawl out of the wormhole a little bit and see your and everyone else’s beautiful faces more often. Though I’m widely considered to be a dangerous whiskey-soaked hellraiser, I really don’t leave the house much, and I think I need a little more sun, you know, Vitamin D, ward off the rickets. Shatter my own myth. I would say, thin the book collection a little, but that would be a lie, for it is the holy addiction that keeps the other good/bad stuff at bay. That, and I might read a Stephen King novel. I’ve never read one, for no particular reason, and I do believe I have some respect for the man. Eye exercises, too.

Pamela Ribon, blogger, screenwriter and author of the novel ‘Going in Circles’: I will finish writing a novel, a screenplay and a tv pilot script. Am I cheating by using my deadlines as resolutions? Because it’s not like I’m going to stop biting my nails or wasting writing time surfing the Internet. I’m only so strong, people.

Daniel Olivas, editor of ‘Latinos in Lotusland’: For every book I read to review for a print or online publication, I resolve to read a book purely for pleasure.

Rachel Kushner, author of the novel ‘Telex From Cuba’: One of my resolutions is to finish the Recognitions, by William Gaddis. I’m on page 650. I have a ways to go, since it’s almost 1,000 pages. I’m not sure why I need a resolution to finish such an incredible novel: it’s startling on a line by line basis. I think I am almost afraid of its cumulative effect. So slick and erudite is it that it may pose some worldview that’s entirely retrograde or demonic or at the very least curmudgeonly, and I won’t know it, and will have internalized whatever its message is, and by the time I realize this, I will have been thoroughly indoctrinated. Because the tone of it, the one that can be grasped, convinces the reader she is in the hands of the Subject Supposed to Know.


Antoine Wilson, author of the novel ‘The Interloper’: My resolution, for the second year in a row, is not to talk smack about books (or authors) I haven’t actually read.

D. J. Waldie, author of ‘Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir’: The books at the edge of the bathroom sink, under the kitchen table, cringing from the rain seeping under the garage door will be put up on regular shelves ... as soon as there are more shelves. After getting back from Skylight Books ... with just a few more books.
Emily Pullen of Skylight Books in Los Angeles: I resolve not to be suffocated or crushed by books in my tiny apartment.

Neal Pollack, author of the memoir ‘Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude’: I’d like to resolve to read at least an hour a day, every day. That’s not so much, really. It used to be a bad reading day if I read an hour. Now it’s not quite a rarity, but definitely not a routine. If I’m going to make my son read an hour a day, I should keep to a similar program. Less Fruit Ninja, more reading, that’s what I say.

Mark Haskell Smith, author of the novels ‘Baked’ and ‘Moist’: I plan to read more books about diet and exercise this year.

The staff of Electric Literature: Our book-related resolution is to stop drinking so much.

Emma Straub, author of the upcoming short-story collection ‘Other People We Married’ and New York bookstore staffer: In 2011, I’m going to challenge myself more as a reader. More nonfiction! More esoteric subjects! I want to give myself the chance to say, you know, that really wasn’t for me, and the chance to be surprised by loving something unexpected. I would also love to make the resolution to read all of the New York Review of Books’ classics, but first, someone will have to buy them for me.

Tod Goldberg, director of the creative writing MFA program at UC Riverside, Palm Desert and author of the short story collection ‘Other Resort Cities’: I try not to make too many resolutions regarding anything, nor do I tend to resolve many lingering issues -- I’m more of a place blame and castigate sort of person as it relates to most things -- but I’ve decided that in 2011 I’m going to attempt to read several books I’ve lied about reading over the years. So, that means I’m going to read a book by Salman Rushdie (because I’ve lied about every book of his, ever; people always ask, ‘Did you read ‘Shalimar the Clown?’’ and I always say, ‘Oh, the words. So moving.’). I’m going to also read all of ‘Moby-Dick.’ I’ve read a lot of it. I have. But I admit I’ve skipped a lot. Like a lot of the, you know, boring stuff. Though I like that bit about the whale and all that. So I’m on that one for sure. And because I’ve never done it, I’m going to read an entire published book (vs. the thousands of manuscripts I’ve read on my computer over the years...many of which became published books) on some kind of e-reading machine. Apparently it’s the wave of the future.


From Twitter:

I’m going to try and only read suggestions from people on twitter. Starting with Skippy Dies then I’m going to read a suggestion by someone who loved that and so and so on. -- Gillian Grant in Scotland I’m planning to get serious about reading William Faulkner -- Howard West in Illinois Read more from the books I already own. Read from the backlist lovelies. Read less for the book of the moment. -- Frances Evangelista of the blog Nonsuch Book Only to read more! -- Trish Collins of the blog Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? To read what’s on the nightstand every night, to shop at local bookstores, to help libraries survive, to support small vendors/pubs -- Robin K. Blum in Brooklyn I’m going to read and blog about 52 books in 2011. -- the new book blog Black Dog Reviews Two of my book-related resolutions are to read more classics and to have more diversity in my reading. -- Vassily of the blog 1330V Read more non-fiction with my kids. -- Andrew Wetzel of Reading Circle Books Since I like attainable goals, my resolution is to go to more readings & literary events in Boston. -- Gina Choe, who blogs about books in translation My book resolution for 2011 is to read more from my ‘to read’ list. The problem is that I add two for every one I read. -- Zohar Laor of the blog Man of La Book

Thanks to everyone who took time out of the last days of 2010 to email and tweet their resolutions to Jacket Copy. Now you’ve seen theirs -- what’s yours?

-- Carolyn Kellogg