An Editor’s New Year’s Reading Resolutions

by Kristy Hankewitz

Published at 2017-01-12

The new year is a time for reflection on the past year: what you did, how you grew, and what you learned. It's also a time to reflect on the coming year and what you'd like to achieve. New Year's resolutions are big -- look at any store catalogue in January, and you'll see exercise equipment and accessories and kitchen appliances for making healthy food for sale in abundance, as marketers capitalize on people's resolutions to get fit and healthy.


I like to make New Year's resolutions, too. Some of mine this year consist of doing more yoga and taking part in more editors' events. I have also resolved to read fifty books in the next twelve months. This has been a recurring goal for me for quite a few years now, and with the help of lots of time spent commuting on the bus and subway, I was able to meet that goal in 2015 and 2016. I record the books I read on Goodreads, which hosts a reading challenge every January. The Goodreads challenge makes it easy to track your books and see how well you're doing. You can choose your own goal of how many books you would like to read in 2017, and throughout the year, Goodreads will let you know how you're doing – whether you're keeping on track, falling behind, or even getting ahead of the goal you set.


For me, the fifty books I read towards my goal can be anything. I don't put restrictions on myself, like "new (to me) books only" – because who am I kidding? I'm definitely going to reread at least a couple of favourites throughout the year, and yes, I will count my new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as one of the fifty when I read it. I also don't put page count restrictions on myself – whether under 100 pages or over 1,000, all books I read in the year will count towards my goal.


However, I do try to make sure there is good variety in the types of books I read. I tend to lean towards fiction when I choose new books, especially fantasy and horror novels (and I absolutely plan to read some Stephen King this year), so I am definitely conscious of choosing a good number of books that fall outside of those categories to make sure that I am giving myself a well-rounded reading experience. As well, as an editor, constant continuing education is important, so I am also sure to include some books that will help me to learn and grow in my career.


The following are a few of the books I plan to read this year in order to improve myself professionally as an editor:


Editing Canadian English, 3rd Edition by the Editors' Association of Canada
I know what you're thinking: This is a reference book. This isn't a book to read from front to back. However, that is exactly what I'm (slowly) doing, and I plan to finish it by the end of 2017. In an ideal world where I would have much more time, I would read all my reference books from front to back (even the massive Chicago Manual of Style). Of course I don't expect to remember everything I read and to never need to check a reference book again. But by reading through Editing Canadian English, I believe I will retain a sense of what is covered in the manual, so that in the future I will know better when I do need to check something.


Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
This is a fairly recent writing guide (published in 2014) that focuses on the needs of modern content creation, much of which is on the web in the form of blogs, emails, and social media. As the title states, Everybody Writes, especially in the digital age, and so much of what is written is published in one form or another on the internet. As an editor, I work with other people's writing every day, and I also do my own writing (this blog post being evidence), so I'm looking forward to this being an interesting and informative read that will help to improve my writing skills.


Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
This is a book about punctuation that has been on my "to read" list since I was taking my first courses toward a publishing certificate at Ryerson University – someone in my grammar class mentioned it as a funny resource on punctuation. The words "funny" and "punctuation" seem almost contradictory, but just
read the book description and you'll see that maybe they don't have to be. However, you'll also see that it's a topic that Truss takes seriously, even as she takes a humorous approach: "Punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death." This is a book that promises to be both entertaining and educational, and I look forward to crossing it off my list this year.


What are your bookish resolutions for 2017?