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For 2018, I wanted to do away with the my typical resolutions for the new year, and instead find self improvement and self care in a new way. I wanted to make a resolution that I was actually excited to follow through with. Unlike trying to eat salad more than once a month or other more difficult and more physically conscious resolutions, I wanted have a resolution that was not only more realistic to carry out in college, but also one that would help me in more than one way. I decided that what I wanted to do this year was to read more and learn more outside the classroom. That has always been a tradition at Hopkins, that learning does not stop for a grade or when the work for a class is complete. We always strive to know more. And this is going to be one of my ways of doing so for 2018. My goal is to read as many books as possible in 2018 that are not required readings for classes. I think this will help me grow as well as giving me a break in my day. So here are the list of the books that I must read, and if I do well, they will be the launch pad for even more books to come.

1. The Hobbit

Many of the books that I am starting off with, I am actually re-reading. Not only is this a very cheap option, but also something I’m looking forwards to. The books on this list I either read too young without real understanding, or books that I read so long ago that I barely remember their plots or their message. I love the Lord of the Rings series and I want to start from where this world was first created. I remember as a kid loving the adventure of this book and I was half the time genuinely frightened for Bilbo; all the terrifying obstacles he faced leapt off the page for me. However, now, many years down the line I cannot quite remember exactly how the witty dialogue went, or the name of every single dwarf, or all the trials and tribulations they faced getting to the mountain. So I want to re-read The Hobbit and re-experience their journey now. I figured this would be a great break book and also solidify my own self-identification as an LOTR nerd.

2. The Stranger

The Stranger is a book that I had to read in class for high school and I remember absolutely hating every word of it. I hated the main character and his outlook on life and basically everything the book stood for. Now, as a college student with some real world experience, I think I can more easily sympathize with a nihilist perspective and the main character’s post-modern view. I want to re-read this book to give it another chance. I want to actually take my time with it and understand it’s meaning beyond the way Camus tries to disturb the reader.

3. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes 

Re-reading a collection of greek tales is meant to be somewhat entertaining, but also with this addition I am breaking one of my rules, but only a bit. I want to re-read them in order to remember them for class. These stories are often brought up by other students in writing and literature classes since they make up many of the original archetypes of the way we tell stories today. And I want to be one of those people who can remember them and bring them up in discussion as smoothly as more modern, easier-to-remember literature. So this is a reading for class, but is definitely not required. Also, greek mythology is wildly dramatic and entertaining so I don’t think that this will be particularly unpleasant or hard for me to get through. It is also technically a break from my usual reading for classes.

4. Little Women

I also ambitiously read this book as a little girl, but when I was reading it, I had to have many of the passages explained to me, and  the progress of some of the plot points went completely over my head until their devastating conclusions. I remember how vivid their world seemed in my mind’s eye and how I felt every emotion with the characters of this book. It is one of those works that you can get truly immersed in. I want to re-read it now that I am older in order to completely understand the book for myself, and also because even though I do remember very little of it, I remember how good it was, and would want to relive that experience again.

6. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Now, turning to something different, this is a book that I actually haven’t already read. I bought it a while ago, and read the beginning of it, but got too busy to finish it. I like this book, at least so far, in the way that I like Little Women. This is because of Lisa See’s ability to create a realistic and immersive world, as well as characters that are unexpectedly relatable. This combination brings the reader closer to the events of the book and their emotional impact on it’s characters. I want to continue reading it, even though I took such a long pause, because it is a book where you get easily invested into its characters. I want to see what happens next in their lives and in their friendship.

7. Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

This is also a book that I just started and stopped. But I want to continue reading it because I have always been interested in the history of Islam and the Middle East. It is definitely not a geographic area that gets enough attention in high school or general world history classes that tend to have a euro-centric view. Since I don’t have time in my schedule to take a class on the history of the region this semester, I figured I could at least scratch the surface with this book. This pick truly keeps with the tradition of learning outside the classroom at Hopkins. It is a topic that I have always wanted to explore and know more about, but this book will finally help me to start realizing that goal.

8. Into the Wild

I’ve always loved everything that Krakauer has written, and my dad has most of his books. However I haven’t picked up Into the Wild yet because I’ve honestly been scared of the story and what the book is about. It centers on a college student’s death in the wilderness close to Mt. McKinley and how he got there.  Krakauer retraced his steps to find out how he got there, and why he wanted to try and live free from civilization, completely off the land, after being someone so ingrained in modern society. Honestly, the book has always been a bit morbid for me, but now I have decided to read it, since I’ve had it sitting around for too long, and I am curious about Krakauer’s conclusion about the student, if he was really just being dumb, or if he was on to something.

So that concludes my starting-off-point list. Hopefully I will get to more books than this, but I want to keep my goal realistic and achievable! Also I want to make sure that it is a resolution that is enjoyable, and not necessarily a burden. And I think I have achieved that so far. Now it’s off to reading my first book!