In 2020, The Year of The Virus, it’s entirely justified to have abandoned your New Year’s Resolutions.
Luckily for me… I didn’t make any!
Just kidding. I wrote that and immediately remembered this page in my planner. Of course I turned my non-resolutions into resolutions. I wouldn’t recognize myself in the mirror if I didn’t. But it’s May and it’s The Year of the Virus so I forgot about #2 and #3 entirely.
I didn’t forget about #1, because while my personal and paid-employment life are entirely upended, 2020 has been and still remains
My Printz Year.
Yes, I have the (distinct, long-desired, overwhelmingly overwhelming) privilege of serving on the 2021 Michael L. Printz Award committee! Together with 8 other professionals from around the country, I have accepted the task of determining which young adult book published in 2020 is… the best.
Awesome responsibility, meet insane year! I was three months deep into the project of figuring out how to inject as much reading into my everyday as I could. There were schedules. Checklists. Holds lists. Spreadsheets. Publisher donations were starting to come in. Travel plans to attend ALA Annual for the first time since 2013.
So much has changed in the library world, the publishing world. There’s still a lot of uncertainty as for what means for us – me and the dozens of other award-givers in this strange year. Lots of possibilities, lots of “what if this…” and “what if that…” And, of course, the narrow purview that is my own world has changed significantly. I am working less than I was eight week ago, but I am caring for my children a lot more. I don’t have ten commutes a week and five lunch breaks. I don’t have publisher donations streaming in; I don’t go to the library to buy books and pick up holds every day.
At the end of the year, our task remains the same: to determine which YA book best meets the criteria of excellence.
And at the end of each week and month, our task remains the same: to Read All the Books.
I made a tiny, forgotten list of resolutions in January, but I also selected a theme. A mantra. It’s something I’ve told myself when I need motivation to focus on my book review reading. You don’t have to enjoy a book, you don’t have to savor it, you don’t have to understand it on a first read, you don’t have to decide what you think about it, or write the review in your head as you read.
You do have to keep the book open, and your eyes and brain on the page.
You do have to Read Every Word.
At the end of each and every day in 2020 –
days when my children wake up before six a.m.
days when the news makes me cry
days when I accidentally FaceTime my family for hours
days when there’s not enough coffee to keep me from an afternoon nap
days when I spend all day trying to sneak away from my family to squeeze in a mere hour of actual paid work
days when the dishes dirty themselves as fast as I can wash them
days when I never want this stay-at-home family lifestyle to end
days when I am longing for the humble blessing of my former life’s daily routines
days when I love books
days when I am sick of them all
my task remains the same.