I’m really not into this whole resolution thing so many people talk about around the New Year. So I’m always surprised by readers who sign up to participate in contests to see how many books they can read in a year or per month. I read about their despair when they haven’t been able to reach their target number, or that they just have to finish a book so they can include it in a count. I read for fun, relaxation, to learn and to live. Making it measurable sends shivers of dread up and down my spine. After all, if a book doesn’t hold my interest, I move on to another. I am polite in conversations about book reading contests (at least I think I am) but I find that type of contest to go against my reading style.

Why?

Well, for one, measuring books read would mean I’d really have to confess how much I spend on books. Uh, sorry, I did that once and almost got into a divorce conversation. We were living on a budget but in order to survive I have to read. Really and truly. This resulted in me having to get a job so I could buy books, and it wasn’t at a book store. Since I was fired once for reading on the job at age 14, I learned never ever to read when I was “working.” Of course, who knew that many years later I’d have a “job” that required reading. It’s karma.

I also never put my children in any of the contests at schools to count the number of books they read over the summer or on vacation. Reading is a fundamental part of our household activities and I never saw the point to introduce an element of “must” to an acquired habit. Each of us read different things and in a different way. My husband buries himself in newspapers and magazines; my son in technical papers; my daughter in popular culture. We all freely read bits of our books to each other—our reading is interactive and promotes conversation. Although I will admit I never read aloud any of the “salacious” bits in the romance novels I’m reading, there’s usually at least one witty exchange I can share.

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So when I see badges of countdowns of books read, I blow them off. Although, I’ve been assured book counting doesn’t hurt the joy of reading. I’m just not convinced, but as an open-minded person, I’m willing to listen. After all, we have books-reviewed goals at Fresh Fiction, which I suppose is a form of a reading contest in itself. However, instead of resolutions about the number of books I’ll read in the New Year, I like to focus on books I can’t wait to lay my hands on.

What I’m really looking forward to reading soon are some of my old faithful authors with books coming out in 2014, including the next J.D. Robb’s In Death book, Concealed in Death (Putnam; Feb. 18, 2014) which takes place at Christmastime in 2060 iRiver Road Krentzn a futuristic New York City. The streets are covered with snow and the holidays are in full swing when Roarke uncovers two wrapped skeletons during a ceremonial wall smashing. It’s a case for Eve to solve before Christmas. It’s amazing to know that after 38 books I still can’t wait for the next one—I’ve already pre-ordered Concealed. Robb always includes a twist I never see coming and keeps the relationship between Roarke and Dallas at a satisfying simmer.

At the beginning of January, I’ll get Jayne Ann Krentz’s River Road (Putnam; Jan. 7, 2014), which is a return to her old style of contemporary suspense. Lucy Sheridan returns to a small town in Oregon to take care of her inheritance and uncovers an old crush, a body and secrets people are willing to kill for in order to keep buried. Ah, romantic suspense at its best. And for the side of me that loves a military hero, there is the start of a new series to look forward to: Suzanne Brockmann’s Do Or Die releases in early February (Ballantine; Feb. 4, 2014).

I also have a lovely and humorous historical romance from Elizabeth Boyle, If Wishes Were Earls (Avon; Dec. 31, 2013), part of her Rhymes with Love series, just sitting on my bedside table waiting to be devoured. Then of course there is the last in Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series, Bite Me (Kensington, March 25, 2014), which follows the story of Livy Kowalski, the outrageous little shifter from Wolf With Benefits. Laurenston is moving on to build another series of supernatural characters, so I can’t be too dismayed that the series is over, although I’ll miss all the lions and tigers and bears.

So, as it’s a newBite Me year, and we need to make goals, if not resolutions, I have a goal to read more books I enjoy, including books by beloved authors and new-to-me storytellers. I’ve never stuck to one genre for long but instead go where my curiosity leads me. Even though my reading preferences almost always involve a story with a romance, I’ll read everything from suspense to historical, paranormal to futuristic. I read both humorous and dark, emotional stories. So, 2014 is filled with possibilities, new stories to fill my head with characters who will become friends. I’m excited. How about you? What’s on the horizon for your reading adventures in 2014?

Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.