Reading Challenges 2016


Every year I vaguely think about dropping reading challenges and instead becoming a truly free-range reader. But then I find myself signing up (mostly because I like a list and I like a reason to look through lists).

I participated in five reading challenges this year and completed all of them – granted, three were of the ‘free-range’ variety.

Australian Women Writers Challenge

The challenge supports and promotes books by Australian women. I signed up for the Franklin level (read ten books, review at least six) and ended up reading 20 (a portion of these were read as part of the Stella Prize Shortlist Book Group). All the Birds, Singing and Six Bedrooms were both fantastic but my favourite was unquestionably Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett.

What’s in a Name? 2016

The challenge focuses on titles of books. I read some good books as part of this challenge but the stand-out was The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim – witty, beautifully written and thoroughly charming.

Foodies Read 2016

Once again, my efforts for this challenge were lack-lustre (suspect it’s time I gave it a rest….). My book choices were limited because I was selecting from the TBR stack, however, the most enjoyable was Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour – he’s a rock-star.  For something of the foodie-fiction variety, How to Party With an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings was lightweight and a good laugh.

20 Books of Summer

It was winter in Melbourne at the time but I still participated in 20 Books of Summer. I read some rippers – some I’ve already mentioned such as All the Birds, Singing and the Hemmings, and Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake genuinely made me laugh-out-loud. But the book that left an impression was Louise O’Neill’s terrifying Asking For It.

Mount TBR Challenge and Read My Own Damn Books

Two challenges, one outcome – basically the point of both was to select books from what you owned prior to January 1, 2016.Thanks to this challenge I battled through the Ferrantes, read a few books that I’d had on my shelf for more than a decade, and ticked off some aging best-sellers. I discovered some gems, notably Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert but the stand-out was Rebecca Harrington’s wry campus-lit novel, Penelope.

I’ve joined a few 2017 reading challenges (and already planning my book lists…).




21 responses

    • Well funnily enough inspired by you, I’m starting the Around the World in 80 Books challenge next year. Late to the party, I know, but I wanted a challenge that would push me into more translations.

      So really, I’m doing one that you’re doing, you should probably do one that I’m doing.. 😉

      • That’s great! The AW80 books challenge is really fun, I think you’ll enjoy it.

        I really need to succumb to the TBR challenge pressure – otherwise I’ll be appearing on one of those hoarding programmes with a scary presenter chucking my books into skips…

    • It will be in my top books for the year, without doubt. I think what I liked about it was that although it’s historical fiction (with an AMAZING true story behind it), it is also really funny. Laugh-out-loud funny. I don’t usually think of historical fiction and funny together.

  1. I agree with you re “Rush Oh!”, a splendid read indeed, on an such an unusual subject, one of my favourites this year. I only wish I could read as many books per year as you!
    Incidentally, my BEST book this year: “All The Light We Cannot See” .

    • I read All the Light a year or two ago and LOVED it. Amazing book that I reckon I’ll read again because so much of the detail reveals itself as you move toward the end.

  2. Thats so funny, I could have written your opening paragraph myself…. I promised myself I would hold off from challenges next year and rein back on book buying so I could get through some of my TBR. And what do I go and do – join a challenge….

    • Ha! Well I have tried to join challenges that make me stick to reading from what I already own (actually find the challenges keep me focused on the TBR stack). Which challenge have you joined?

  3. I did one challenge in 2016, AWW Bingo, and only because it fit in with what I’d already read. My ongoing challenge is to review as many Australian books as I can from the 19th and early 20th centuries. But you guys review so many ‘must read’ books that I’m forever buying new releases on top of my ongoing op-shop raids.

  4. I like the idea of the Mount TBR Challenge, as I have so many books on my own shelves that I haven’t read. I signed up for the AWW Challenge, and while I have read numerous books by Australian women, where I fall down is in the actual reviewing them. So I pretty much failed on that front two years running … so not sure whether to sign myself up again or not!

    As an aside, how to you sign up to receive ARCs?

    Have a great Christmas and I look forward to reading more of your posts in 2017.

    • I get most of my AWW reading done in the first half of the year around Stella Prize time – I really like participating in the Stella Book Group, which is run once a week on Twitter in the lead-up to the Prize.

      I receive all of my ARCs through Netgalley – . It’s free to sign-up and then you simply request titles you’re interested in and, if approved, they’re delivered to your e-reader. In exchange, you provide a review. Publishers obviously prefer you to do this in a timely and public way (blog, Goodreads, social media etc). I used to also get ARCs from publishers directly but I haven’t pursued this because often I’d get unsolicited books that weren’t really my thing – I didn’t like feeling obliged and there’s also no point me writing a mediocre review of a book that I’m not the audience for. Whilst I don’t always choose winners through Netgalley, at least I’m getting books from my preferred genre.

  5. I am impressed by the wide variety of your reading. I’ve joined some literary challenges for 2017, for the first time ever. I think my “free-range” reading, while enjoyable, has lacked focus and I want to be more purposeful in my choices. Good luck with your new challenges.

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