Reading nourishes the soul, and hiking and backpacking benefit the body. Looking back on 2011, I didn’t backpack or hike as much as I would have liked. And certainly, I always can make room for more pleasure reading. (As a writer and teacher, can I make such distinctions about what I read, anyway?)
My 12 Resolutions for 2012
In response to this appraisal of 2011, I’ve created a list of 12 reading, hiking, and backpacking resolutions for 2012 — 6 devoted to novel-reading and 6 devoted to the outdoorsy activities that put the “ambulant” in ambulant scholar.
Needless to say, my new year will be busy–I’ll be graduating in the spring and hopefully moving on to a new job in the fall. Like many seasoned grad students, though, I’ve learned that one can be more productive, work-wise, when one takes a break to indulge in “hobbies.” So, to keep myself on track, I’m resolving to blog about the pursuits on this list. Check back to hear about my progress (or nag me if I lag behind).
UPDATE: I’m also going to be “crossing off” items on the list that I complete. See a crossed-off book or outdoors destination? I’ve read it or hiked it.
Catching Fire and Mockingjay, books one and two, respectively, in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Also, I’d like to complete another Young Adult dystopia series, like Veronica Roth’s Divergent, for comparison.
2. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck, the follow-up to Cannery Row (one of my favorite novels). Additionally, I’d like to read Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat, which also takes place in Monterey (and is considered to be a loose precursor to Cannery Row.)
3. American Pastoral by Philip Roth. I’ve only read Nemesis, and more than a handful of reviews I’ve read mention that Nemesis isn’t the greatest introduction to his work.
4. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. I’m very interested in the ways that writers talk about their craft; in fact, a good section of my dissertation examines how authorial identity, writing habits, and the experience of illness are connected, particularly for Eugene O’Neill and Gertrude Stein. The backpacker in me, though, is lobbying for Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I’m not sure which Dillard book will win out. (Suggestions?)
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Pulitzer Prize-winner, Junot Diaz. It’s been on my bookshelf for sometime, and given my interest in American studies and the autobiographical turn in fiction, it seems like an excellent choice!
6. Seraph on the Suwanee by Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God has been on my introductory fiction syllabus numerous times; it’s one of my favorite novels (right up their with Cannery Row). Reviewers of Seraph on the Suwanee often reference Their Eyes Were Watching God, and I’d like to participate in the comparison.
To Hike or Backpack
7. Shawnee National Forest in Illinois
8. Hoosier National Forest and the Deam Wilderness, two of my favorite (local) outdoor recreation spots
9. Red River Gorge (a return trip)
10. Mammoth Cave National Park for the first time, as I’m trying to visit all of the U.S. national parks in my lifetime
12. California with the Sierra Club, a great organization whose national outings are just as phenomenal*
*And I should know: I’ve backpacked with the Sierra Club on three national outings, and in July of 2011, I backpacked the valleys of the Grand Teton National Park with some friends I met through a Sierra Club outing the previous summer.
What do you resolve to do more of in 2012? Anything related to reading, hiking, or backpacking make your list?