New Year’s Resolutions (a few suggestions)
At the beginning of 2020, with a somewhat naive spring in my step, I welcomed the New Year by setting a resolution to read more. Luckily for me, when a global pandemic hit and we were plunged into a national lockdown, I had plenty of spare time to read. Some would even say too much spare time. As 2021 begins and some of you may be setting some New Year’s resolutions yourself, I thought I’d supply you with a shortlist of literature I’d enjoyed this year in case your goal is to read more.
I often find myself setting unrealistic and frankly, widely fanciful, New Year’s resolutions. And by widely fanciful I mean joining the gym. Reading more is a great goal to set as it offers you much more freedom over how you can achieve it. You choose when you will read, what you will read and how often. Also, to ‘read more’ is slightly vague. If you only read one book last year, by reading two this year you have technically fulfilled your goal. But I believe in you, be ambitious. Set an actual number, it could be 5 books, 10 books or 100 books, but a number gives you a target to aim for. (The app Goodreads has a great ‘Reading Challenge’ function where you can do this.)
Also, a little side note. I say books, but being the English and Theatre Studies student I am, I have included two plays.
- The Catcher in the Rye | J.D Salinger
Whenever I recommend this book to people I always follow it up by telling them that Mark David Chapman (the man who shot John Lennon) was found reading it when he was arrested. This is one of the modern classics, but it seems very potent narrative for younger people right now. It explores the life of a teenage boy, a boy who is desperately trying to be a man as he rails against a world he finds messy and incoherent. Great book, I would highly recommend it.
2. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf | Edward Albee
I read this play earlier this year and it is now my absolute favourite. Michael Billington describes it as ‘Albee’s enduring masterpiece about the danger of living in a world of illusions’. It really is a play of such singular power and energy I cannot do it justice by telling you about it. Plus, it has a hell of a twist at the end. Just read it, you won’t regret it.
3. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie | Muriel Spark
The shortest novel on the list, this is a far more gentle read than the other three. Described by the Guardian as ‘short and bittersweet, Muriel Spark’s tale of the downfall of a Scottish schoolmistress is a masterpiece of narrative fiction’. This was the first book I read in 2020, a great book to begin your year with.
4. The Deep Blue Sea |Terrence Rattigan
I was introduced to this play through one of my modules (British Theatre since 1939), and I liked it that much I chose to write my first essay on it. Rattigan himself describes this play as a text that explores ‘the illogicality of love’. It is a beautifully delicate play that explores a kind of doomed passion between two lovers. I also managed to watch the 2016 National Theatre production when they broadcast it online and seeing it performed only reinforced my love for it.
So, there is my list. I know I will continue with my resolution to read more for 2021 and have already compiled a ‘To Be Read’ list myself. Because of my degree, I fall in and out of love with reading a lot, the key thing is to differentiate reading because you have to, and reading for leisure. This starts by finding books you want to read, so whilst this list may give you a few pointers, this comes down to you finding books that you like the look of. Whether it be choosing a book or a New Year’s resolution, the freedom to choose what is right for you is what is the most important.
(All of the texts suggested are available through the library)
Until next time,