Dear Reader

Resolved: To Wise Up, a Little Bit

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. —Mark Twain

I resolve to tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time. —James Agate (British diarist, 1877-1947)

Fine Books and Collections editor Ann J. Loftin
Editor Ann J. Loftin

A wise friend once said: “Never make any important decisions in December or January,” and I try to live by that advice. The darkest months of the year—and especially in this economy—are not a good time to sell a house, get married or divorced, lose ten pounds, or throw out that box of old photographs. Better to huddle inside, light a fire, and maybe go back to a book you haven’t read since college. Or make a list of the subjects you’ve always wanted to learn more about, and just start at the top. One New Year’s I made a resolution so simple even I could follow through: Read one real book (not magazines, not essays, not reviews), cover to cover, every week. You’d be surprised how many weeks can go by without finishing a book.

This month’s Fine Books & Collections can point you in many different directions: British maritime journals and literature; 19th-century American history; the 20th-century fiction of Evelyn Waugh and Jack London; or the writings of naturalist Roger Tory Peterson. Whatever your interests, it’s worth remembering that dark days—and dark economic times—are bright days for the life of the mind.

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