Now that you’ve had most of the month to make your New Year’s resolutions (and break all of them), it’s time to set the only goals that are truly attainable—reading resolutions! We’re challenging you with 13 reading resolutions, but never fear! We’ve also provided a bunch of recommendations to help you reach your goals.
Read a Book by a Woman of Color
Make a diverse reading list a priority this year with Mira T. Lee’s gorgeous novel, EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL. This dazzling novel follows two Chinese American sisters, Miranda—the older responsible one—and Lucia—the younger, impulsive, headstrong one. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it’s Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. An immigrant story at its heart, EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL is a gut-wrenching tale of the sacrifices we make when we truly love someone.
Read an Author You’ve Never Read
When the Jacqueline Woodson calls an author a “writer to watch,” surely her novel is worth the read. If Naima Coster’s HALSEY STREET flew under your radar, 2019 is the year to discover a new author. This captivating debut novel shifts perspectives between two interesting yet troubled women—Penelope, a struggling artist who moves back to gentrified Brooklyn to care for her ailing father, and Mirella, Penelope’s estranged mother, who wishes to reconcile with her daughter.
Read Your First Stephen King Novel
Though he’s one of the most widely read authors of our time, it’s not hard to believe that there are still some people out there who have never read a Stephen King novel—they’re way too scary for most of us! THE OUTSIDER is such a propulsive read, we have to recommend you take the plunge and read this bone-chilling novel of nice guys, bad guys, unexpected doubles, and unbearable suspense. (If you use this read to check off more than one of your reading resolutions, we won’t tell if you won’t.)
Read a Collection of Poetry
April is National Poetry Month—why not remember the recently departed legend and luminary Ntozake Shange with her final work—WILD BEAUTY. In this stirring collection, Shange shares her unique and deeply emotional writing with more than 60 original and new poems written in English and Spanish.
Read a Book over 1,000 pages
Last year, this classic was chosen as one of the 100 most beloved books by PBS’s The Great American Read. If you haven’t read this one yet, add this to your 2019 reading resolutions. GONE WITH THE WIND explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series are both masterworks of imaginative literature that have been thrillingly translated to the screen, but for my taste, I’ll go with Gone with the Wind. Like the Stark family and the residents of Hogwarts, Scarlett and Rhett are such vivid characters on the page that you can’t imagine them being portrayed adequately on film—until suddenly, there they are, each work only enhancing your enjoyment of the other.
Read a Book Under 200 Pages
Short books are the saviors of our yearly reading goals. Francoise Sagan’s charming novel is only 160 pages, and you’ll likely get though it in one sitting. BONJOUR TRISTESSE follows endearing, self-absorbed teenager Cécile who has recently left boarding school to join her widower father on a two-month summer vacation. Cécile’s summer plans of free-spirited fun and “sexual adventures” with a handsome law student, are interrupted with the arrival of her late mother’s best friend. Soon, all of Cécile’s energy is spent trying to kill the budding romance developing between her mother’s best friend and her father.
Reread a Beloved Classic
Another Great American Read, Joseph Heller’s classic satire is the story of Captain John Yossarian who, hoping to escape deadly combat flights, must struggle with the equally deadly bureaucracy of the army: a man is considered insane if he is willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. Look out for the Hulu miniseries starring George Clooney later this year.
The classic satire is the story of Captain John Yossarian who, hoping to escape deadly combat flights, must struggle with the equally deadly bureaucracy of the Army: a man is considered insane if he is willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.
Listen to an Audiobook Read by the Author
Named the 2018 Audible Audiobook of the Year, this provocative memoir will put all you audiobook skeptics to shame. HEAVY explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. If you listen to one audiobook this year, make it Kiese Laymon’s fearless memoir.
Read the Book Before You See the Movie
Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette Fox in the adaptation of Maria Semple’s beloved novel WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE. When Bernadette—who has developed a paralyzing allergy to Seattle—suddenly disappears, it’s up to her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, to find her. Even if you’ve read BERNADETTE, it’s definitely worth the reread before the film’s release in March.
Bernadette Fox is a fiercely independent wife and mother, when one day she disappears. It began when her daughter Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her agoraphobic, making a trip to the end of the earth a bit of an issue. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence.
Read a Book You’ve Been Too Scared to Read
The Netflix adaptation of Josh Malerman’s terrifying novel starring Sandra Bullock spurred many hilarious memes and even produced the entertaining (but also pretty dangerous, so don’t try this at home, kids) #BirdBoxChallenge. The situation Malorie finds herself in in this post-apocalyptic era, however, is no joke. Five years after the world has devolved into madness—due to the arrival of creatures who drive people suicide when looked at—Malorie and two children must make a harrowing journey with nothing but their ears and wits to guide them.
Read a Graphic Novel or Memoir
Though award-winning artist Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, World War II cast a long shadow throughout her childhood. In her graphic memoir, BELONGING, Krug attempts to confront the secrets of her family’s wartime past and understand the forces that have shaped her life—through words and art.
Read a Book Set in a Different Country
Not only is Wayétu Moore’s exhilarating debut novel set in a different country, it takes place in a reimagined Liberia in its early days. Intermingling history and magical realism, SHE WOULD BE KING tells the story of three unforgettable characters whose gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes as a new nation forms around them.
Read a Science Fiction Novel
We know—science fiction isn’t for everyone. But with novels like STATION ELEVEN and THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE paving the way for more literary science fiction, we encourage you to give this genre a chance. Thea Lim’s debut novel, AN OCEAN OF MINUTES, is a great place to start—featuring a story of enduring love set against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic America where time travel has been invented.