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New year, new resolutions to get our sh*t together – whether that’s improving our eating, sleeping, and exercise (all good things) or just clearing out our watchlists while we’re stuck inside over the cold winter months.
One resolution that checks both boxes for self-improvement and entertainment is to read more, and here are some tips to ensure success:
First, figure out when you have time to read: On your commute to work? On the treadmill? Waiting in the allergist’s lobby or in line for a chicken sandwich? All of these and more can be opportunities to get some reading in, if you consider your selections wisely. For example, you don’t want to carry a Tolstoy novel around on your daily commute – that might make better bedside reading or work better on an e-reader. Poetry and graphic novels are great to pick up and put down when you’re multi-tasking. And paperbacks can be thrown around, consumed, and traded in with zero guilt (especially if you shop local and/or used).
Then, figure out what to read: Perhaps you have a tantalizing stack of unread books cluttering up your apartment or a really long spreadsheet of titles you’ve been updating for years. This is what happens when you decide to read something before figuring out when it will be read. Resolve yourself to clearing the clutter and crossing off the list using the method above.
There are also tons of celebrity reading lists, reading challenges, and book clubs to incentivize a new or renewed commitment to reading. As music-lovers, we at CHIRP particularly recommend the following:
CHIRP’s Music Book Club at RoscoeBooks – Starting up again in April, we’ll be meeting bi-monthly to discuss books covering a wide array of genres and artists. Keep an eye out on our social media in February for a poll to select the first book of the year, on the topic of Chicago’s local music scene.
Chicago Public Library Reading Challenges & Reading Lists – In 2018, CPL put together a fantastic reading list for One Book One Chicago and we look forward to 2020 events for the Year of Chicago Music.
Make your own music-inspired reading challenge! – Credit to a certain AVClub commenter of my acquaintance for the idea to take a favorite album and use the song titles as reading prompts. Here is last year’s challenge to commemorate the 40th anniversary of The Clash’s London Calling:
1. “London Calling” – Read a book set in London
2. “Brand New Cadillac” – Read a book about a road trip or journey
3. “Jimmy Jazz” – Read a book written or set in the Jazz age
4. “Hateful” – Read a book that you’ve struggled to finish
5. "Rudie Can’t Fail” - Read something written by a Caribbean author or set in the Caribbean
6. “Spanish Bombs” – Read a book translated from Spanish
7. “The Right Profile” – Read a Hollywood biography or memoir
8. “Lost in the Supermarket” – Read a book about food
9. “Clampdown” – Read a dystopian novel
10. “Guns of Brixton” – Read a book about crime
11. “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” – Read a book about ethics
12. “Death or Glory” – Read a posthumous work
13. “Koka Kola” – Read a book about pop culture
14. “The Card Cheat” – Read a book where the protagonist dies at the end
15. “Lover’s Rock” – Read a love story
16. “Four Horsemen” - Read something that takes place in a rural setting
17. “I’m Not Down” - Read a book that is inspirational
18. “Revolution Rock” – Read a book set during a war
19. “Train in Vain” - Read an educational book, or a book about trains (which is also educational)
And for 2020, here’s a challenge based on another of my all-time favorite albums, Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths:
1. "Is It Really So Strange?" - read a science fiction or fantasy book
2. "Sheila Take a Bow" - read a book by a female author
3. "Shoplifters of the World Unite" - read a book that is anti-capitalist or anti-consumerist
4. "Sweet and Tender Hooligan" - read a book where the protagonist changes dramatically
5. "Half a Person" - read a book about childhood or adolescence
6. "London" - read a book where the city features prominently in the story
7. "Panic" - read a thriller
8. "Girl Afraid" - read a book with a female protagonist
9. "Shakespeare's Sister" - read a play
10. "William It Was Really Nothing" - read a book by an author called "William" (or some derivation thereof in either their first or last name)
11. "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" - read a book about finance or the economy
12. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" - read a sad story
13. "Ask" - read about an investigation or mystery
14. "Golden Lights" - read about a famous person
15. "Oscillate Wildly" - read a book about science
16. "These Things Take Time" - read a history or historical fiction
17. "Rubber Ring" - read a book where the protagonist has an 'alternative lifestyle'
18. "Back to the Old House" - read a book about aristocracy
19. "Hand In Glove" - read a book that takes place in the Victorian or Edwardian era
20. "Stretch out and Wait" - a book about sports/exercise OR a book about lazy cats
21. "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" - reader's choice!
22. "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" - read a book about a single event
23. "Unloveable" - read a book with an unlikable protagonist
24. "Asleep" - read a book about drugs, dreaming, or altered consciousness
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