What are you going to read in 2016?
New Years’ resolutions are not fun. They’re mostly about things we don’t like to do but feel we should. Of course, we, Brazilians, will have given up on many of them by Carnival, which usually takes place in February.
Typical resolutions involve fantasies of losing weight, eating more healthily, starting a serious workout program or working out longer, leaving the drunk husband, quitting that pathetic job or moving to France. It will not happen.
My advice: focus on fun things first. And what could be more fun than making a reading list or deciding on what new genres of books you would like to try in 2016?
Here’s my reading plan for 2016 and why I think I should embark on the voyage.
1. History books: Brazil is going through very difficult times. We are facing one of the worst political-economic crises in recent history. I find that learning about the past of the country could help me understand why we got to this point, compare previous problems to current ones and maybe find inspiration on how to act more actively as a political citizen in the upcoming months. I guess this advice could be taken up easily by Europeans and north Americans too – given the new threats those regions are facing now, but which can be traced to events in the past.
2. More biographies of famous painters: I don’t know if you know, but I’m the author of a series of ebooks for English language students to practice their vocabulary, writing and speaking skills based on works of art. It’s called Teaching English with Art ( http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS ). To write these books, I usually read a couple of biographies about the painter I’m focusing on. These readings are not directly reflected in what I write, but it helps me immensely to have all their backstory, as I create the exercises. Some of the biographies I have already read can be found in the following Bookwitty blog post: https://www.bookwitty.com/text/56609f05acd0d013adad81c3 - Six Must-Read Biographies by Famous Artists. My plan is to add more titles to this library.
3.The Harry Potter saga: I need to finish it. I know, I’m centuries late. In my defense, I must say I read the first four books. Then it dawned on me – I’m not the brightest card in the pack – that they all had the exact same structure with little variations in the story, so I got angry and decided it was a waste of time to read on. But this has left me with a sense of unfinished business, and, in addition to that, I must confess, I miss some of the characters. As an aside, I would like to say that the concept of the Dementors, dark creatures that suck off all your energy and leave you soulless and desperate, is one of the most brilliant metaphors conjured by an author to familiarize children with one of the most serious and widespread diseases of our century: depression. Those characters first appear in the third volume of the series, The Prisoner of Azkaban, my favorite so far. I don’t even know who Hermione ends up with, as I haven’t seen the last movies. Don’t tell me.
4. Another biography of Mick Jagger: I have already read three of them. The Rolling Stones is my all-time favorite rock band. Besides, I admire Mick Jagger as one of the savviest businessmen that have ever walked – or, rather, flown around – the planet. Of the three biographies I have read, I would strongly recommend the latest: Mick Jagger, by Philip Norman. It’s very detailed, not based on malicious gossip and very telling of the early times of the band: the 1960s - an era that functioned as a breeding ground for the most revolutionary ideas human beings have ever produced, and which are still being implemented today (computers, feminism, civil rights, genome studies, individualism, gay rights, gender issues, etc). Another reason I wish to read more about the Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger in particular, is they will be touring South America early next year and I have already bought a ticket! So I need to recycle my knowledge and start re-listening to the songs more frequently to be fully prepared for the show. I’m that kind person.
5. Read more of the classics: I have had my share. But there’s a lot out there to explore. The language and the slow pace can be off-putting at the beginning, but if you make an effort and soldier on, the payoff is huge. Also, you need to adjust your frame of mind and try to read those books with the eyes of the readers of the time to be able to appreciate all the innovations, language power and beauty of seminal works that generated the thousands of diluted spin-offs we are more used to now. Back to the origin. My plan involves, more specifically, Hugo, Melville, Austen and Dostoyevsky. Wish me luck.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you are planning to read next year.