HUNT COLUMN: Resolve to read more richly in 2022

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, January 5, 2022

By Cathy Hunt

Chair, Troup  Co. Board of Education

Nerds like myself love to keep lists of books: most generally speaking, Books I Want to Read and Books I Have Read. I used to jot these notes in my day planner, but for the past few years I’ve used the website Goodreads. It’s kind of an online book club, but it also provides lots of cool stats on your personal reading when you record your finished books there.

It also keeps up with the goals you make for yourself. Last year, I resolved to complete 35 books, and I did better than that by two, so that’s an average of about three books a month. Some people I know do much better than that, but I slow myself down because I obsess over catching every detail. That’s a holdover from my English major days when I was tested on the assigned reading.

On the other hand, when I was teaching full-time and raising children, I did well to finish ten books a year, which was disappointing to me. But my only reading time seemed to be after the kids were tucked in for the night, and I got sleepy myself really quickly after that. Plus, I spent available time re-reading the literature I taught in class. (There’s no doubt that being retired, an empty nester, and more of a homebody because of Covid has helped me boost my reading stats.)

Speaking of that literature I taught, I slowly became aware that I mostly assigned literature by long-dead white guys, but that’s who mainly populated the literature textbooks. In the last few years of my career, I made an effort to diversify a little, as did the College Board suggested reading for A.P. Literature. In turn, I resolved to broaden my own personal reading, which was almost exclusively fiction by white authors.

Goodreads tells me that I did a little better in 2021. I read four non-fiction books (which I never used to do) and two books of short stories (which I also never used to do). I read six books by writers of color (Black and Native American) and read more books by women than by men. My favorite genres were mystery (9), historical fiction (8), and horror (6). No surprises there. The only authors I repeated were Tana French and Stephen King. And I read 14,346 pages, two thousand better than in 2020.

If you love to read as much as I do, consider broadening your horizons in 2022. You will be enriched. But the main thing is to read something, and to model that behavior for young people, many of whom think the only interesting reading is on social media – which is kind of terrifying. Read magazines and newspapers. Help keep print media afloat.  Support our local bookstore and our library. Help to Get Troup Reading (gettroupreading.org).

Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!