I’m sure we’re all used to hearing pop culture and media icons, or perhaps, just our Instagram followers berate the idea of the “New Year’s resolution.”

Some believe the idea is pointless: why would any of us want to be “better” or make changes just because it’s January?  Shouldn’t we be self improving as we see fit? Shouldn’t we be making resolutions constantly? What will January change about our gym habits, our meal prep tendencies and our desire to drink less coffee? Realistically, nothing. 

I’ve never been a pessimist when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I welcome them. I think they’re sort of charming, even if in an idealistic kind of way. I like the idea of starting fresh. I like the idea of a new calendar, of a neat new date to write at the top of paperwork. I like the idea of newness of something clean. And for that, I believe deeply in the resolution. 

Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to only purchase books written by authors of marginalized identities. In the publishing world, the statistics concerning the discrimination faced by these groups, particularly women of color, are staggering. This knowledge has always weighed on me, stifling my desire to become an author, perhaps out of discouragement or fear. That being said, more than anything else, these statistics make me angry. To put my anger into action, I spent all of 2019 only purchasing books by authors of underrepresented identities. As an avid reader, I made it through about 24 books, not my best figure, but an accomplishment nonetheless. All 24 were written and conceived by minority authors –– telling idiosyncratic stories that illuminated my world and my own writing habits drastically.

This resolution was atypical, sure. It wasn’t a grandiose weight loss or workout plan, a Pinterest-curated meal prep declaration or a promise to stop gossiping or cursing (which perhaps, my mother would have preferred). But what it did for my mind, by sticking with it and promising myself to it, was better for me. This resolution made me a stronger thinker. There was empathy, there was thrill, there was heartbreak, there was erudition all between the lines of a book.

Oxford Dictionary defines resolution as “the firm decision to do or not to do something.” In the context of our New Year’s resolutions, this makes sense. I firmly decided, last year, I wouldn’t purchase a book if it was written by a white man. Not because I don’t like those books or those authors, because of course I do. But because I know that there’s something to be said about putting discomfort with a statistic or a reality into action. I certainly turned down novels and poetry books I am sure I would’ve found thrilling and engaging on behalf of the resolution, but I did it to support equally engaging and thrilling novels and poetry books that are picked up and purchased at a much lower rate.

“Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “Make Trouble” by Cecile Richards. These books taught me something. They made me weep and made me swell with pride. They made me wonder, and search, on the bus, for a highlighter in my bag to highlight a cosmic line of prose or a fascinating idea. Holding these women’s minds in my palms I learned the stories they have inside. They are important stories. They are stories that need to be told. More importantly, they are stories that need to be read. 

On the precipice of 2020, I began to think through my resolutions. I have a lot of things I want to improve, like my writing and my desire to cook at home instead of eating out. I want to be less anxious, I want to be less self destructive and full of more self love, I want to spend time in the moment, I want to slow down. These are resolutions, sure, but they’re large and require conscious effort at any time of year, not just in January. 

My 2019 was filled with female artists. I sought them out and recommended them to friends, I looked at other people’s bookshelves, full of only male artists, and pointed out the lack of representation. I found, despite my love for reading, that I often only made the time for myself to read during breaks or when I’d exhausted other forms of entertainment. For 2020 then, I resolved to spend more time reading. Any chance I can get from the bus to the early morning. Even if it means setting my alarm earlier or going to bed an hour later. Maybe it translates to something larger than that: make time for the things you care about, which stimulate you, which better you.

Though I could’ve decided this at any time of year, January helps me to make it so. Cheers to you, New Year’s resolution, may we all use your existence to better ourselves. 


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