The New Year Begins

Let’s hear it for achievable goals.,

Let’s hear it for achievable goals.

Welcome. I’ve become fixated on the nook, on making it so comfortable and inviting that uninterrupted hours of reading will have no choice but to happen within it. It’s less nook and more corner, a corner where an old wingback chair has been residing for two years. The chair was once part of a guest-friendly tableau, opposite the couch, the coffee table like a campfire between. The living room has been so many other rooms for so long — office, gym, movie theater, Zoom bar, Zoom therapist’s office, Zoom everything else — that it’s forgotten its old remit: Be cozy and inviting, be a place for lavish hanging out.

So the wingback is being pressed into service, a reading lamp arranged just so, blankets and pillows placed at hand. The search is on for a Craigslist footrest of the correct height. It’s winter, very cold in New York City, and the outside world has recently proved itself quite the fair-weather friend. If I’m going to be inside, I’m going to read. This seems a reasonable ambition for the moment.

The notion of setting New Year’s resolutions this year, as Faith Hill puts it in The Atlantic, “feels like setting forth in a snowstorm, squinting into a great blurry expanse.” I’ve joined a group of mostly strangers in a reading challenge for 2022. The goals are aggressive but attainable, but instead of resolving to read more this year or to read a certain number of books, I’m creating the conditions for reading more — feathering the nook, scheduling hours into the day for what my elementary school called “S.U.R.E.,” Silent Uninterrupted Reading for Enjoyment — and hoping for the best.


Here’s Phoebe Bridgers and Arlo Parks doing Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.”

You tell Wikipedia Around where you are, it offers up a bunch of “Wikipedia articles that describe places, events or points of interest that are near you.” I learned about some spots in my neighborhood I had no idea existed.

“When there’s too much for us to imagine actually completing, we short-circuit our executive functioning mechanisms, resulting in a feeling of anxious unease.” Cal Newport makes a good case for “slow productivity” at The New Yorker.

Tell us.

What’s on your mind as 2022 begins? What are you wondering or wishing, looking forward to or dreading, planning to do or not to do? Write and tell us: Be sure to include your full name and location and we might include your contribution in an upcoming newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a full and cultured life appear below. See you on Friday.

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