New Year's Resolution-ing? Take These YA Novels With You
I’ve always had some trouble with New Year’s resolutions. Not making them—I’m great at making them! I’m a star at figuring out what I want my life to look like or what areas I think I’m lacking in. That I can do. It’s just...the follow through that I can’t quite figure out. I know I’m not alone in this, and it can be a struggle to not feel down for not completing your goals. So, instead of berating myself for not finishing last year’s resolutions, I’m going to do what I usually do when I have a problem I can’t seem to solve: look for the answer in books. Here is a list of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and the books that might inspire you to actually do them. This year is your year! And if it’s not? Read some of these, and try again next year.
1.) Be healthier
Let’s be real: A lot of New Year’s resolutions have to do with body image, or losing weight. I’m not into that. It’s better to reframe it as being healthier, whatever that means for you. One of my absolute favorite books about dealing with body image issues that is not fat shame-y at all is Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Dumplin’ is about Willowdean, a fat girl in Texas who decides that she’s going to enter the Miss Clover City beauty pageant, come hell or high water, no matter what other people think, and who inspires me to love myself no matter what, every day. Bonus—there’s a movie adaption on Netflix that is just as divine!
2.) Travel more
My favorite resolution, and the only one that I usually manage to do! I try very hard to see at least one new state or country every year, but I know that that’s difficult for a lot of people to accomplish. Enter: Again, But Better, BookTuber Christine Riccio’s charming novel about a girl who signs up for a semester abroad in London to shake herself out of a perfectionist stupor. I also studied abroad in London, so naturally I’m biased towards this book, but there are wonderful themes of renewal and taking charge of your own life. Plus—London! Again, But Better will have you booking your ticket before you even finish reading.
3.) Be better about spending habits
My philosophy here is… if you can’t spend money, why not read a book about people who can? Maybe this is counterintuitive thinking, probably it doesn’t stop ME from buying things, but sometimes I just love to read about a lifestyle I can’t have! Enter Prince Charming and Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins, a delightful duo of books about being royalty-adjacent. They’re incredibly fun and funny and by reading them I get to the lives of rich people without actually having to live them, or spending the money to even try to!
4.) Learn something new
You want to know something I know nothing about? Czarist Russia. You wanna know what can teach me? Dee Garretson’s wonderful novel Gone by Nightfall. I’m a big fan of reading historical fiction to learn a ton while not feeling like I’m back in high school AP classes. The only way to get me interested in early Russian history is to package it in a beautiful book about a girl who dreams of becoming a doctor under the shadow of an impending revolution (well, or a Broadway musical starring Josh Groban, but we’re talking books here).
5.) Read more
Ah, the ultimate New Year’s resolution! Even us book people do it: read more, read more widely, read more diverse books, read more nonfiction, etc, etc. For me, it usually comes down to trying to remember why I wanted to work in publishing in the first place, which can be easy to lose track of when you have to read for work so much. So I like to go back to one of my childhood favorites, a book about the magic of books: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. A story where people can come out of books and people can go into books, and the choices you make determine your story. I love it, and every time I read it it reminds me why I do what I do.
Happy reading, and happy 2020 everyone!