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…).