Bookworm resolutions

Ashland is crawling with folks who have interesting literary goals for the new year.

Whether it's to finish up the novel you're writing or finally read "Paradise Lost," it's good to set a goal and resolve to reach it. Besides, literary resolutions are a lot more fun than skipping the french fries or doing sit-ups every day.

For example, this year, I want to read more local history. I've lived in the area for more than six years and there's still so much I don't know. So far, what I have learned about this lovely valley is fascinating. I still recall the relief I felt when I read that White City was actually named after a popular general, rather than as a demographic statement.

I asked local bookworms to share their literary New Year's resolutions. Most echoed common themes of wanting to read or write more, but one brave soul confessed an unexpected goal.

Write more

Perii Hauschild-Owen, children's librarian: "I want to write more. I write picture books for children. I'd like to work on these books and explore publishing them."

Claudia Alick, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's community curator and Green Show producer: "My 2011 literary wish list is to read more non-fiction, finish several plays and get one produced, get my children's book, 'Plug Free: Games for Kids,' into field tests, do at least one poetry performance in New York City, and continue with my sci-fi and comic book clubs."

K. Silem Mohammad, Southern Oregon University professor of English and writing: "I hope to finish my book manuscript, 'The Sonnagrams: Anagrams of all 154 of Shakespeare's Sonnets.' I'm about halfway done."

Amy Miller, production editor, "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader": "I've made a commitment to get up early every weekday and do something, however small, to further my writing career: send out a submission, work on a book manuscript, write a blog entry or revise a poem."

Kevin Davidsohn, Bloomsbury Books: "I definitely want to write more, and I want to fulfill my friend's request to submit more microfiction to her website."

Steve Dieffenbacher, Mail Tribune copy editor: "At the top of my list is completing a book-length poetry manuscript I can submit to publishers, my first attempt at this."

Read more

Maureen Battistella, Ashland Mystery Readers Group: "I plan to read more mystery, particularly mysteries translated from Italian. I just finished 'The Leopard,' by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, on the modern origins of the Sicilian Mafia."

Margie Cicerrella, children's librarian: "I'd like to read more nonfiction, books about nature, gardening, geography and parks. These types of books can take me where I am most curious. Reading like this can be a real stress reliever."

Lie less about reading

My friend Jeff, who does not want me to use his last name, admitted his plan to read all the books he has pretended to have read over his life. His list includes classics such as "Ulysses," by James Joyce, and "War and Peace," by Leo Tolstoy. "I'm tired of quoting CliffNotes. It would have been easier to have just sat down and read the books a long time ago," he said.

Good for Jeff, and I'm sure he's not alone. Until last year, I was an "Anna Karenina" fake. It felt great to conquer my secret shame, and to sink into a great brick of a book knowing that I wouldn't have to write a term paper about it afterward.

What are your literary goals for the new year?

Angela Howe-Decker is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at

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