One Simple Resolution

Image from Flickr by shutterhacks

Image from Flickr by shutterhacks

My New Year’s resolution has nothing to do with writing. Well—not directly, anyway. It has to do with reading.

About 2 ½ years ago, my cell phone died. I visited the Verizon store, tugging on phones attached to cables, tapping screens, pushing buttons, looking for the perfect match. When I found it, I waved the customer service rep over and told him I’d like “this one, without the data plan.”

“Um—this one doesn’t come without a data plan.”

“Well, which one can I get that doesn’t have a data plan?”

“You mean—you just want a talk/text phone?” He seemed dubious. This was apparently not a common request.

“Yes, just a regular phone. Without the Internet.”

He steered me to a lonely corner, where a sad little flip phone awaited, like the orphan who knows he will never be chosen.

I ended up with an iPhone. A $30 data plan. The world at my fingertips. And, just as I’d feared, an irresistible, time-sucking device. Coveted moments at night–when my son has drifted off to sleep and I lie burrowed in quiet comfort–used to be reserved for reading novels; now it was time spent scrolling through writerly blogs, parenting ezines, online literary magazines, Twitter feeds, Facebook, and Yahoo! News.

It’s still reading, I told myself. Essays, short fiction, very important news, advice, interviews, information.

But it’s not the same. There’s no substitute for reading books, and I’m not reading enough of them. It’s not my iPhone’s fault, or technology’s, or Twitter’s—it’s my fault. I’m horribly undisciplined when it comes to time management. My contract is up, and soon I may just go shopping for a feature phone. I hear they’re in demand lately.

As for my New Year’s resolution, I’ve committed to reading one book per week, starting with Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s January 1, two in the afternoon, and already I’m on chapter four. This should be an easy resolution to keep.


  1. I agree, with the caveat that I just read this on my smart phone and would have missed many other enjoyable essays without it! But I’m also making a reading commitment this year: forty books, mostly memoir, and starting with a humorous one to break myself back into the habit!

    • Yes, that’s the problem, isn’t it? So much of the content is great stuff that you’d hate to miss. For me, it just needs to be condensed somehow. I guess that’s what RSS readers are for? Anyway, your resolution is a good one! Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  2. I’m for reading…anything. Watching TV is my caveat. Although I will watch TV and read my book. Not as good as sitting in the quiet and just reading. It’s good that my eyes do not enjoy reading on my phone. I use my phone mostly for sending little snippits of info to my loved ones and pictures. Yay for the ability to send pics. Kimmie is a prolific reader of books, but her books are on her Kindle. Never could get into reading on my iPad. When I read a book I like to flip the pages. I like slipping in a little bookmark usually consisting of anything close at hand and coming back to the page when I get interrupted. For some reason it bothers me to “dog ear” a page. I’ll do it on magazines, but it seems a book is more deserving and should be treated with more respect. I firmly believe there would be less need for Prozac in the world if people would just get lost in a book for a few hours each day. You keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading it. Love you.

    • I don’t mind reading on a Kindle or Nook, but I know what you mean about flipping actual pages. And I totally agree with you about the Prozac thing! 🙂