Every year I say I’m not going to do reading challenges and then I do. Why? I like a list. I like a reason to look through lists. I like discovering books that I might have otherwise overlooked.
I participated in five reading challenges this year and completed all of them.
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 15 ( a large proportion of those were read as part of the Read the Stella Prize Shortlist Book Group). The Golden Age and Past the Shallows were both fantastic but my favourite was unquestionably The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood.
What’s in a Name? 2015
The challenge focuses on titles of books. I read loads of brilliant books as part of this challenge but on reflection, the stand-out was Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar. It’s an account of the lives of Vanessa and Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group – an example of how brilliant historical fiction can be when it’s done well.
Foodies Read 2015
To be honest, my efforts for this challenge were lack-lustre this year – my enthusiasm may have dwindled because two of my book choices were bad however, I did read Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal as part of this challenge – highly recommended if you’re into foodie fiction.
Read Your Freebies 2015
This challenge focused on reading ARCs but I added a degree of difficulty by selecting books from my 2012-2014 NetGalley leftovers. And I read some gems – the aforementioned Vanessa and Her Sister and the charming My Wish List. My pick though, is Still Alice by Lisa Genova, a book that is thought-provoking (and terrifying) on many levels.
20 Books of Summer
It was winter in Melbourne at the time but regardless, I participated in 20 Books of Summer. Again, I read some rippers – The Green Road, Our Endless Numbered Days, The Versions of Us and Days of Awe (some of these books will make my Top Ten for 2015). But the book that I can’t stop thinking about? The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. It’s an extraordinarily impressive collection of essays.