I learned a new word over the holidays. Tsundoku is a Japanese noun meaning "leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled together with other unread books." It's a stunning word, and it, briefly, prompted a New Year's Resolution.
A handful of months ago I bought a house, moving from Durand to Hamilton's Stinson neighbourhood. The move went smoothly, with the exception of one thing. Well, hundreds of things to be exact -- the many books I've accumulated over thirty years as a reader and ten years as a book reviewer.
"I hope you like this place," said my better half, "because I'm not moving these books again for a very long time." Besides realizing that books are a pain to move, I realized another thing. I've never read many of the books that line my bookshelf.
Enter my logical New Year's Resolution. Instead of adding more books to my collection, I should read the books I've been neglecting for years, right? This seemed like an obvious resolution -- for about five seconds.
What writers need is support from their local community, meaning a moratorium on buying books is the last thing I should have. For an arts community to thrive, artists need to feel supported, and they need to be able to support themselves. It's important to buy books, and it's even more important to buy books by local authors.
We tend to look inward when we make New Year's Resolutions. In past years, I've made (and broken) promises to eat healthier, to further my career, and to travel more. I've made resolutions to better myself, but not my community. This year I'm going a different route. I'm going to be more generous with my resolutions, making promises that will support others in the arts community.
I know this sounds expensive. Supporting artists financially isn't always possible, but there are other ways to be supportive. That said, here are my 2015 resolutions.
1. Read more books by local authors, both books I've bought and books from the library.
2. Attend more lit events! Almost every week there are book launches and readings in #HamOnt, and they're often free or pay-what-you-can.
3. Spread the word. I always have good intentions of reviewing local books, but reviewing gets buried on the list of things I want to do but don't.
4. Be vocal! A local writer whose work I've reviewed emailed me the other day, and her encouragement went a long way. In an age of twitter and Facebook, it's often easy to tell someone when you appreciate his or her work. This year I'll do more of that.
There. Now that my resolutions are posted on the Internet, I have no choice but to hold myself accountable and make them a reality.
Happy reading, #HamOnt!