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Bookish Resolutions and Recommendations for 2021

The new year is synonymous with resolutions, but with the craziness that 2020 has been, I need slightly different resolutions. Apart from my regular resolutions of being grateful, taking better care of myself including my own faults, and being less stubborn, I decided on a few bookish resolutions. I plan to diversify my bookshelf even more by reading books by and featuring LGBTQIA+ authors and protagonists, reading from the books that I own before buying, and giving away books that I don’t want to keep. I asked FBC members what their bookish resolutions are and what books they are most excited to read in 2021. I ended up with a bigger TBR (to-be-read) pile but buying books in 2021 doesn’t count, right? Hopefully, I can use my local library to check them out.

1. Diversify reading– This was an important and common resolution for most members. Tayler S. wants to read more books by LGBTQIA+ authors or that center LGBTQIA+ characters, as well as read Indigenous and African authors, and fantasy and sci-fi. She wants to read more Octavia Butler and excited about Cinderella is Dead and Lovecraft Country. Steph A has resolved to read more books by authors of color that are not big-issue books. She wants to read books “that do not center race or anti-racism but instead are grounded in joy and everyday experience” because authors of color are so often expected to bleed on the page for white readers when they should have the ability to be published on anything they damn well want to write about.” She is excited about White Magic, What Fresh Hell Is This?: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You, and The Turnout. Yasi A’s goal is to diversify authors and prioritize books from BIPOC authors. Mhairie R. sums it best in her aim to read “books about experiences that don’t match mine, buying from authors that don’t look like me, and seeking out more female and trans authors.” Erin May J. plans not to read books by cis white men and is excited about Witches Steeped in Gold.

2. Exploring new genres– Ashley P. wants to read two books per month and to explore romance and horror. She is excited to read Wings of Ebony. Nina G. wants to try more e-books and is excited about White Feminism and Cazadora, the sequel to Lobizona. Courtney R. has been trying to read more of the classics by completing Wuthering Heights and Rebecca , finally reading Jane Eyre and re-reading the Anne of Green Gables books. Amanda A. is going to try to read one non-fiction (that’s not a memoir) book a month to get out of her fiction/memoir norm. Soon, she will read The Death of Vivek Oji, The Only Good Indians, and Mexican Gothic. Brittney. M is doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge with a goal of 20 books. As she is enjoying audiobooks on her runs, her other goal is to run more and read/listen more.

3. A number of books– Some members chose a particular number of books to read. For instance, Claudia N. wants to read 52 books but she will prioritize buying books by BIPOC authors. She is looking forward to reading One Last Stop and Malibu Rising. Ashley F. wants to read 36 books, which is a big goal since she is busy raising her 4-year-old, clear off most of her TBR (to be read) shelf, and continue to diversify authors more. She looks forward to Circe and You Had Me At Hola (which we reviewed here).

4. Reading challenges– A lot of members are participating in reading challenges. For instance, Meg creates her own challenge by choosing twelve tasks from other reading challenges (BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge, Reading Women Challenge, and Reading Glasses Challenge are a few which she used). In 2021, she is adding an additional twelve tasks of books that she has bought before 2021. Amanda C. is doing the Reading Glasses Podcast Challenge. She is excited to read One Last Stop, This Close to Okay, Meet Me in Another Life, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, and Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses. Emily B. and her brother, who moved to Idaho Falls, are doing the Idaho Falls Public Library annual Extreme Nerd Book Challenge together. Sydney S plans on tackling the Popsugar Reading Challenge with 38 books and her book club with her friends. She looks forward to The Wife Upstairs (a retelling of Jane Eyre), Binti, The Fire Next Time, The Farm, and There, There. Riikka O. has marked these for the PopSugar Challenge: The City We Became, Frankenstein, and Trail of Lightning. Olivia T. is also doing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Mhairie R. has picked some book challenges on StoryGraph and promises to update her Storygraph and Instagram. She wants to read The Scapegracers, Bingo Love, Me (Moth), Full Disclosure, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, and The Stars and the Blackness Between Them. Dawn K. wants to complete the United Methodist 2021 Reading Program. Kelly M is also doing the Storygraph Translation Challenge.

5. Shopping your own shelf and small bookstores– Some members, like Claudia N., Nina G., Dawn K., and Taylor H., want to read what they already own. Tayler H. wants to read Actress by Anne Enright. Matilda B. wants to read what she owns before buying and use the library when it reopens. She observes that an advantage of reading what she owns is to downsize her books and donate them. Jennie M. hopes to buy all her books, including kids’ books, from small businesses and local. She wants to continue her education regarding her white privilege, diversify her library, and she recommends The Pearl that Broke its Shell for FBC. Riikka O. also aims to read from their shelves including the books their spouse contributed to the relationship; their other TBR books are Anna Karenina and The City in the Middle of the Night. Brittney M’s goal is to get through the books that she won from Goodreads giveaways before looking for new books. She is excited about Ready Player Two, Empty, The Parasol Protectorate (series), and Medical Apartheid. Becky S. is also focusing on her books that she hasn’t read but ensuring that no matter the genre, she is not just reading white, straight authors.

6. Book clubs– Some members excited about participating in book clubs and some members want to consciously read more books FBC members choose. Tayler S. has joined a group that will read and discuss a Toni Morrison book every month. Emily R. will embrace each month’s FBC theme and “read books members nominated in addition to the official monthly pick.” She is excited to read The Last Girl and All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. Mhairie R. aims to read more of her FBC books to participate in the monthly conversations and read one book from her Hues Box. Similarly, Dawn K. wants to read more of her FBC books in time for the monthly chats and is enthusiastic about Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School and the Heart Berries.

7. Books in translation– A few members want to read books in translation and books in Spanish. Apart from reading more BIPOC authors Kaytee B. also wants to read more books in translation and books by trans authors. She is looking forward to This Close to Okay. Matilda B. wants to read more books in her native language, Spanish, instead of translations. Kelly M. has a goal of reading four books next year in Spanish.

8. Giving up and honoring– Apart from these resolutions, there were a couple that focused on the act of reading. Matilda B. wants to be okay with not finishing books that she is not into. Nora L. plans to read more mindfully; instead of planning a number of books to read and rushing through them, she wants to truly be where her feet are when she is a story. Nora L. wants to really honor the book rather than seeing it as something to be crossed off. She is looking forward to Wintering.

Hopefully, these resolutions will have inspired you to diversify your shelf, explore new genres, and shop your own bookshelf. Like me, you might have added some of the recommended books. For more recommendations, you have to become a member of the FBC that has book suggestions from members as well as exclusive monthly book discussions.

Rashmila likes to read books by/about women/people of color. She prefers fiction to reality. A dog parent and word ninja, she volunteers for non-profits and is multilingual. Favorite genre- contemporary literary fiction.

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