Last year I didn’t achieve my goal of running more miles than I did in 2020. As a matter of fact, I struggled to keep up with any semblance of a fitness routine at all. The one resolution I did nail: I read more than I had in 2020 and the previous years. Granted, my reading habits have evolved with the pandemic to mainly beach reads and other forms of guilty pleasure. But still, I read 23 books for a total of 9,910 pages in 2021 — a certain Sarah J. Maas fantasy series sure kept me busy with +600-page and +700-page volumes. In 2020 it was 9,690 pages read, and 7,412 pages the year before that.
The reason I know with such detail is that I log almost everything I read — if I ditch a book after reading 10% or even 30% of it I tend to not record that info, though. I use the social network for bookworms, Goodreads. Let me tell you that, yes, I buy and borrow a lot of books, but I also abandon them often and without an ounce of guilt.
To keep my reading moving forward I also joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge. This is my sixth year doing it. At the beginning of the year, you set the quantity of books you’d like to read during the next 12 months. I aim for 22 because I know it’s both a realistic number to achieve, but also not super easy to get for me (I’m a slow reader). I recommend striving for a number both doable yet still challenging. Don’t go for the whole 50 books in 2022 unless you know you’ll be reading one per week.
Goodreads isn’t perfect. It seems to be stuck sometime in the mid-2010s and no new features ever get added to it. Even though it has an app version, some of its functionalities only work on desktop. And you’ll be able to find all mainstream popular books there, but I had more problems logging books written in or translated to Spanish, Catalan or French.
But it’s still the best way I found of tallying what I read. I tend to forget the titles and even the names of authors I love, but with Goodreads, they’re at my fingertips. It’s easier for me to make recommendations to friends and family this way. Or just to add things to my want-to-read list and never run out of titles to check out. And the reading challenge keeps me engaged every year to at least try to finish a couple of novels per month.
When it comes to film and television, things get a bit more complicated. I don’t set a minimum of titles I should be watching in a year because I feel that, for work reasons, I already watch a ton of movies, and especially TV. But I still like logging everything I consume. It helps me to put together end-of-year lists of the best TV shows and movies. It also makes things easier when someone asks me what to watch next, now that they’ve finished Succession or Only Murders in the Building or The White Lotus.
I have an account on IMDb and use their rating feature to list everything I watch there. If I’ve rated something a number of stars, it means I’ve watched it. But it’s a very imperfect system that lacks dates and other features. So I also keep a Note on my phone of all the movies and films I’ve watched in a given year (and all the titles I should still watch and haven’t).
A lot of colleagues and film buffs have also started using the social network for movies, Letterboxd, where you can keep track of everything you watch during a year, rate it, write a review, and follow other users and see their ratings and recommendations. My only complaint is that Letterboxd only works for movies, and I’d like to be able to have one single platform that includes both films and TV. But it’s the place to delve into if you’re looking for hot takes on Don’t Look Up or want to gauge all the praise surrounding Spider-Man: No Way Home. Also, take a look at Rotten Tomatoes and what the critics and the public are saying about a release. If a film premiered a couple of years ago, no one even remembers it and it has a rotten audience score…do you really need to watch it now?
I know it’s nearly impossible to choose what to watch next with so many films and TV shows debuting weekly. But there’s no reason why you should binge Friends for the umpteenth time this year unless you’re truly feeling like it, just because you can’t decide what to choose from Netflix, HBO Max or Hulu. That’s why I keep reminding you to take a look at our monthly streaming guides with TV and film recommendations. Here’s what’s new in January and what we highlighted in December. We even tell you where to watch and whether a film is available on streaming, in movie theaters or both. It may help you keep some of your film and TV new year’s resolutions on track and be able to enjoy some of the latest titles.
And then there’s music. And here’s where I have a harder time staying relevant and listening to new artists. I like starting by asking my colleague and music connoisseur Bryn Rich. Take a look at his selection of best albums and songs of 2021 or what he’s anticipating most in 2022.
Get a Spotify or an Apple Music subscription if you don’t have one already. And use their many features to discover new music, from Spotify’s Discover Weekly to Apple Music’s New Music Mix. Both services also spotlight new releases every week.
Of course, I like to keep track of what songs I’ve been obsessively listening to with Spotify Wrapped, which tells you your top tracks at the end of the year. But I also keep an eye on what else people have been enjoying that I may have completely missed and should sample even if I’m doing it a few months later than everyone.
At the end of the day, there’s no perfect way of keeping track of everything you watch, read or listen to. But aiming for discovering new authors and artists and their work sure may make our lives richer. I feel it’s the one new year’s resolution that’s easier to achieve (more feasible indeed than working out five times a week or losing those damn 10 pounds).