I like the idea of "literary New Year's resolutions" suggested by Ruth Franklin in The New Republic, and I've decided to hop on the bandwagon. But while Franklin's resolutions primarily concern general reading habits, I'd like to be more specific: I propose that 2012 be the year we all read the one book we're most embarrassed never to have read.
You know which book I mean. Everyone remembers the "Humiliation" scene from David Lodge's Changing Places, in which a group of academics confesses to the biggest gaps in their literary education, until finally...all right, I've never read Changing Places either. But you get the idea, and I trust that you're as eager as I am to put your worst humiliation behind you. I'll go first:
This is the year I'm finally going to read Jane Eyre, goddammit.
Now, before you say anything: I've always intended to read Jane Eyre. I read the first few chapters of it once (and stopped after the "death of Helen" scene; no particular reason). I've even seen a film adaptation. And I have no problem with the nineteenth-century novel in general or even the Brontës in particular (I love Wuthering Heights as much as the next former English major)...
None of this helps when Charlotte Brontë's ghost is staring daggers at you.
"...If from this day you began with resolution to correct your thoughts and actions, you would in a few years have laid up a new and stainless store of recollections, to which you might revert with pleasure." —Jane Eyre, Chap. XVI (or so a Web search tells me)
Therefore, Reader, I make my solemn vow. Jane Eyre. This year. As soon as I finish a few other books first.
What's your resolution? Or as Jane might put it, what's your pleasure?