2023 new year resolutions-reading challenges resumed

P Chang
3 min readJan 9


Soon after I started my new student life in Canada, I noticed one painful reality — I lost above-average reading comprehension of my native language. My English could only help me survive as an eight-year-old native-speaking person for daily most essential communications.

It could have been a significant hindrance in life advancement. Still, I was lucky to work in the high-tech software industry, constantly surrounded by the nerdiest kind of people who were hardly verbal or communicative but super kind and forgiving to my broken English. My vocabulary gradually expanded but still was heavily confined within the high-tech software jargon zone.

Every time I stepped out of the working context, I was painfully reminded that I had become an (intellectual) illiterate in this new world of North America.

The intellectual world shut the door for me because of the language barrier and lack of at least two decades of intake building up as a native-speaking person.

It took me more than two decades of mental suffering (“mental annoyance” was perhaps a better expression) and another decade of conscious but very low-priority practices so that finally, by the end of 2018, I could finish twenty books.

It was a triumphant moment, a small but super satisfying achievement I set for myself almost thirty years ago — reading books in English as if I were reading in my native Chinese.

Suddenly I saw many virtual doors opened for me, and I could venture in and experience the many forms of lives and stories these books brought me. That’s the ultimate joy of reading, at least for me.

Then COVID-19 arrived, and everything turned upside down.

I don’t recall I read any new books in 2020. My mind was too occupied with many other pressing and depressing matters. Also, many bookstores were closed not only because of COVID but soon even the book section of Costco I relied heavily on was closed.

Thus I don’t recall I bought any new books to read in 2021. At least not until October 24, 2021, when I spotted Costco re-opening the book section in my neighborhood.

I immediately rushed over and started to touch all these new books with a big smile, ear to ear.

“Isn’t it wonderful to see them back?” The staff was blond with long hair to her waist and smiled back at me while busy putting more books on the shelf. I instantly felt I bonded with her.

Reading serious books has never been my forte. Reading books for me is always an escape, an indulgence, a mental journey into other interesting people’s minds or lives. I bought Harlan Coben’s thriller “Win” as my first recovery book that day.

The last few days, I witnessed many of us resume the year-end book list ritual. So yesterday, I pulled out all these books from all the corners of my house that I purchased since 2021 and divided them into two piles. One is those I finished, and one is yet to finish. In the end, I have bought more than thirty books since Costco’s first re-opening day in Oct 2021,

For the whole year, I was constantly under the impression that I was way behind my BC reading accomplishment. I thought I only read a handful of fewer than five books, but in the end, I finished fourteen. Not too bad!

Let’s see if I can return to my original goal of thirty books a year this year.