How do you read so much?

 

Janelle says…

I get asked this question all the time. I work five days a week, I have two children, I go to the gym and do yoga, and I read. I don’t feel like I read a huge amount, I average about one book per week. But for some people, that’s a lot more reading than they themselves manage. They can’t fathom how I can get this amount of reading done along with tending to all my other responsibilities and obligations, which may be similar to what they have going on in their own lives. So I’m always being asked, “How do you find the time?”. Here’s how I find it:

 

Audiobooks

In my opinion this is the quickest way to increasing the number of books you read. If you listen to books on audio, you can listen to them at times when it is impossible to be reading a print or e-book. In the car. In the morning while getting ready for work. At the gym. While you take the dog for a walk. While you hang out the washing. While you pick up the dog poop off the lawn. While you make dinner. I listen to audiobooks in all of the above scenarios, and let me tell you, if I consistently always had an audiobook on the go, I would double the number of books I get through, guaranteed. It’s also a lot easier to get your hands on audiobooks than you might think – public libraries have them available for loan on mp3, trusty old cd, or through the free BorrowBox app so you can listen on your phone.

 

Reading on my lunch break

I can’t function during the day unless I have a lunch break away from my desk, and I try to make sure that break includes reading. Preferably outside in the sun. Not only is this very good for you, especially if you work at a desk in front of a screen like me, but it will help push you through those pages faster. It all adds up!

 

Reading every night

I also can’t function unless I read every night. At least in bed before sleep, if not during the time leading up to going to bed. This is when I get most of my reading done. If I manage to devote myself entirely to reading for the night after the kids go to sleep, this gives me at least a good one-and-a-half hours of page turning. There are plenty of other distractions though, like my phone and Netflix, so this is about dedication and prioritising how you want to spend your time. If you would like to spend more of your evening time reading, you simply need to make that commitment to yourself. Leave your phone in another room or turn it off. Grab a blanket and a cup of tea, and sit in a quiet comfy corner somewhere and just immerse yourself in it.

 

Sign up for a reading challenge

Maybe you’re the competitive type who would be spurned on by a challenge? There are plenty of them out there, to suit whatever it is you would like to get out of your reading. Simply want to read more books? Try the Goodreads annual reading challenge. Want to diversify and broaden your reading horizons? Give the Book Riot Read Harder challenge a go. I wrote a post about some reading challenges taking place in 2017, so check that out for some suggestions if you’d like to add a bit of extra motivation to your reading life.

 

Start a book blog with your sister so you feel obligated to read

That way you’ll have to read at least one thing every month, lest you be shamed in front of the whole internet!

 

Have I missed anything? Do you have any other tips for bringing more reading in to your life?

 

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2016 wrap-up – our top books and reading goals

Aaaaaand that’s a wrap on 2016! Despite all the crapness of this year, reading was one thing that went reasonably well for us. For one thing, both of us met our Goodreads Reading Challenge targets…..

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And really, what could be a better indicator of a successful year, I ask you?

Here’s a rundown of our year in reading:

 

Janelle says…

My top 5 books of the year

Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake

This was everything I want from a fantasy novel, and there is more to come from this series, which leaves me giddy with gleeful anticipation.

The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

Not your average zombie novel, this had a mix of genre tones, touching on science fiction, thriller, and literary. Very satisfying.

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Speaking of satisfying, this was the bookish equivalent of slipping on your comfiest trackpants, and sinking into your couch with a tub of ice cream, a spoon, and Netflix. Devilish drama.

Fear Is The Rider – Kenneth Cook

Whenever I think back to this book, my pulse quickens a notch. Clear your schedule for a few hours before cracking this one open, you won’t to get off this ride until the end.

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

I think this will forever be a book I go back to again and again in different phases of my life, and one I recommend and gift to others repeatedly. It should be on everyone’s shelves, liquid gold for the soul.

 

My reading goals

I originally set my Goodreads reading challenge goal at 36 books for the year, but I crept up close to it in the second half of the year so I extended it out to 40 books. And I still managed to beat that too! This is the most I’ve ever read in one year ever, so I’m super happy! Although my final number should be 47, not 46. I read Tiny Beautiful Things again in 2016, but Goodreads only lets you assign one completion date to each book, so it’s stuck on the original date I first finished it in 2015.

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I was also taking part in the Shelf Love Challenge this year, which was basically a pledge to read your own books, in an effort to get through more of the many unread books sitting on my own shelves. My goal was to have read between 11-20 of my own books this year. I was pretty rubbish at this challenge in the first half of the year, being unable to resist the temptation of library books. But I picked up my game in the second half, with a final total of 15 books read from my own shelves. I’m not counting ARCs (advanced reader copies) or audiobooks in this final tally, because both of those types of books are ones that expire after a certain period of time. And my focus for this challenge was the physical books on my shelves. So I achieved this goal, but definitely room for improvement next year!

 

Mel says…

My top 5 books of the year

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series – Ransom Riggs 

This book series was my favourite YA of the year and the entire series makes my top 5, as each book was brilliant and unique. I couldn’t devour all 3 books fast enough, so now I just need to prepare myself for the movies. They better not ruin the bookish magic….

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

I was a little late to the party on this one, but it didn’t disappoint. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and devoured multiple packets of Tim Tams while I greased up the pages of my book, with swift page turning goodness.

Wildflower – Drew Barrymore 

This book was my second favourite read of the year. What’s not to love about Drew, really?! After reading Wildflower, all I wanted to do was make daisy chains and sit in the sun. She is just such a beautiful and pure person. Love her even more, now!

Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

I couldn’t decide between TMG or Moriarty’s other standout, Big Little Lies. But seeings as Janelle included BLL in her top 5, I’ll go with TMG. Another great guilty pleasure, full of suspense, drama and a few LOL’s. This is a great read for any fan of Moriarty, who enjoys her style of writing.

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

By far my number one read of 2016. This book has CHANGED MY LIFE! I gifted copies of TBT to some close girlfriends, because I loved it so so much. This book is perfect for anyone who has ever said ‘WTF?’ about ANYTHING, so basically, this book is for everyone.

 

My reading goals

I initially set my Goodreads reading challenge at 15 books, as I was due to have my first baby in March and assumed that I would struggle to read much at all. But somehow I found a way and soon bypassed my initial goal somewhere in the middle of the year, so reset my goal to 23, which I achieved with 2 weeks of the year still remaining. Like Janelle, this is the most books I have ever read in a single year, so next year I hope to push myself even more and continue to explore differing genres.

 

How was your reading in 2016? Did you have any goals that you accomplished? What were your favourite reads of the year?

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Ten books I wouldn’t mind Santa leaving under my tree

I’m joining in with The Broke and the Bookish for the first time for Top Ten Tuesday, where a new Top Ten List theme is posted every week. I particularly liked this week’s theme – Ten books I wouldn’t mind Santa leaving under my tree. Very timely for those of you who may not have bought me my Christmas presents yet. You’re welcome.

1. Our Souls at Night – Kent Haruf

I saw a re-run of the ABC’s Book Club recently in which they talked about this book, and all of the guests raved about it. I think one of them even claimed it was their new favourite book ever? An elderly man and elderly woman who live next door to each other start to lie in bed together at nights, sharing their thoughts and secrets. I can’t decide whether it sounds sweet, sad, or like a shitstorm waiting to happen.

2. The Sixth Extinction – Elizabeth Kolbert

I’ve got a bit of a non-fiction craving at the moment (and yet I’m currently reading fiction?), so this and the other non-fiction picks in this list are the ones I really can’t wait to get to. This one is about the so-called Sixth Extinction that will follow the previous five in the Earth’s natural history, why it is happening, and what we can or can’t do about it. Terrifying. And awesome.

3. Pandemic – Sonia Shah

Another non-fiction which is bound to scare the pants off me. This one looks at how contagious diseases have formed into deadly pandemics in the past, and the evidence that predicts another major pandemic is on its way. Hold me. Actually no, don’t touch me.

4. The Witches: Salem 1692 – Stacy Schiff

The Salem Witch Trials, through a holistic view of the social and cultural context of the time. Sounds good to me.

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5. The Emperor of all Maladies – Siddhartha Mukharjee

The subtitle is “A Biography of Cancer” – from its first appearances to the modern day race to find a cure. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

6. The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis

A young girl is brought up in the woods by a gruff man named Trapper. She sees him on a Wanted poster in town, and then understandably runs away, with the police hot on her heels.

7. The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell

When Ann from the Books on the Nightstand podcast said this was probably her favourite book, I just knew I would need to read it. Humans discover extra-terrestrial life, and a religious sect sends a secret mission out into space to make contact.

8. Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

This just sounds like a delicious Western, perfect for summer. The description makes me think of Red Dead Redemption (my favourite video game ever).

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9. The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer

This sounds like one of those really deep novels where you follow a bunch of characters through the majority of their lives, and you just become immersed in them and their struggles and self-discovery.

10. Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

Given how much I adored both Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I think this would be right in my wheelhouse of books that inspire me, make me feel worthy and fill me with courage.

 

So, if you’re reading this Santa, all or any combination of the above would make me a very happy lady this Christmas!

Have you read any of the books listed above? What books would you like to receive for Christmas this year?

 

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Bookfair book haul!

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My biggest bookfair haul yet!

Janelle says…

A couple of weeks ago was one of our most anticipated events of the year – the spring Lifeline bookfair (the other annual event we anticipate being the summer bookfair, of course). I took a leave day from work to go to the bookfair….using the excuse that I was taking the day off in lieu of my birthday which was 3 days earlier. But who am I kidding, I would have taken the day off regardless! Despite the fair being held in a smaller venue than usual this time, resulting in quite a squishy and uncomfortable experience, Mel and I (and baby Phoebe!) still had a ball as we always do. We were there for around 4 hours which is a bit of a record for us, and really made a morning of it, stopping for a coffee and a snack and a peruse of our books halfway through.

 In my years of attending the bookfair I have learned some valuable lessons-

  • the best time to go is always 9am on the first day – somehow, this is when the best books are up for grabs;
  • you mustn’t rely on a tote/grocery/shoulder bag to carry your books in, lest you be in pain. Rolling suitcases are the only way to go;
  • always carry water and a snack, just in case;
  • if you see a book that you’re not too sure about, just pick it up anyway. You can review your finds and cull them later if you must, but just go go go!

You see that picture up there? Probably one of my favourite pictures ever. And let’s face it, probably one of my best days ever! Anyway, the excitement still hasn’t worn off for me yet. I still have the massive book pile on the floor next to my bed (because I’ve run out of bookshelf space) which I look at every day, and it both makes me smile and makes me hyperventilate because WHEN AM I GOING TO FIND THE TIME TO READ THEM ALL?!

I went to the bookfair with no specific “list” in mind. I just know in my head what books are on my TBR, and my plan was – if you see them, grab them! So, what did I grab?

 

Books I don’t really know much about, but bought because I have heard either it or the author mentioned somewhere before, and/or because I liked the cover:

The World Without Us – Mireille Juchau

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: and other lessons from the crematory – Caitlin Doughty

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

After the Crash – Michel Bussi

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Clade – James Bradley

Swamplandia! – Karen Russell

The Hive – Gill Hornby

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

 

Books I bought by authors I haven’t read before, but because I’m jumping on the bandwagon:

The Passage – Justin Cronin

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Landline – Rainbow Rowell

 

Books I bought because I have the first books in the series and want to have a full set, even though I haven’t read those first books yet:

Home – Marilynne Robinson

Lila – Marilynne Robinson

A God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson

 

Books over which I audibly squealed when I found them, such was my delight:

The Natural Way of Things – Charlotte Wood

Girl Waits with Gun – Amy Stewart

Gold Fame Citrus – Claire Vaye Watkins

Oryx & Crake – Margaret Atwood

 

Books I found which weren’t previously on my TBR, but which spoke to me at the time:

A Journey to Peace through Yoga – Lynette Dickinson

Ice Cream & Sadness – Cyanide & Happiness Vol. 2

 

So this brought my total of books I own and haven’t read up to 135, noting that I have since read The Natural Way of Things. I don’t want to think about how many years it will take me to read the other 134….

 

Have you read any of the above books? If so, what did you think? Did you go to the Lifeline bookfair?

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Why must I procrastinate when I should be reading?

 

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Janelle says…

So, picture this. The day is over, you’re at home, dinner is done, if there are kids at your place they are in bed, the night lays ahead in all its wondrous possibility. It’s perfect reading time of course!

You settle in to a cosy spot with your book and a cup of tea, looking forward to an uninterrupted few hours of quiet reading. You open your book and read a page or so, and then you remember something you wanted to quickly check online, so you grab your phone and start tapping away. Next thing you know, an hour and a half has gone by and you’ve only just looked up from your phone, and you can’t quite believe that that much time has passed without you being able to recall what it is you’ve actually been doing. Another night of maximum reading potential, lost. AGAIN.

Does this sound familiar to you? Even if you replace reading in the story with some other favourite pastime that you would like more time for. Yet for some unfathomable reason, whenever you actually do get a window of opportunity to indulge in your hobby of choice, you seem to subconsciously sabotage it!

I don’t know why I do this, and possibly I should just teach myself to turn my phone off and hide it/hand it over to someone else/bury it. The reason is not because I’m not enjoying the book/s I’m reading, because I do this even when I’m deep in love and suspense with a story. Perhaps I’m just too curious a person to stay away from the internet for more than two minutes? Perhaps I really do just have too much to check/research/manage online that I can’t afford the time away? Or perhaps on some level, I can’t quite believe my luck at having a whole 2 or 3 hours free just for reading, and because it’s too good to be true I just throw it away instead?

Anyway, whatever the reason, writing this post has just cost me a good 20 minutes’ reading time. If you’ll excuse me…..

Adventures on the Bookternet – favourite podcasters

Janelle says…

Because I am clearly hopeless at maintaining any kind of regular posting schedule (it’s been 5 weeks since my last post – the shame!), I thought I would take you on a tour through some of my favourite parts of the bookish internet, where I can be found regularly lurking and savouring every delicious morsel of booky goodness. That way, with your attention diverted elsewhere, you won’t notice the fact that I apparently don’t blog ever.

I love podcasts. I listen to them when I’m getting ready in the morning, in the car on the way to and from work, at home while I’m hanging out the washing or folding clothes, and with a glass of wine while I’m preparing dinner. It’s amazing how fast you can get through a podcast when you are using all of these small snippets of available time to listen to one. I usually get through one hour-long podcast a day with ease, sometimes two.

Here are some tried-and-true favourites!

 

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Image via Gratisography

 

Book Riot

The Riot actually have a number of podcasts available, and they are all fantastic. The Podcast is a weekly discussion of news, gossip, trends and stats from the book world. All The Books is a shorter weekly series which discusses new books released each week (really great for building up your TBR and getting on library hold lists early). Get Booked is a recommendation show where anyone (even you!) can write in requesting any kind of book recommendation. I may have done this already and been recommended some books in an early episode….And finally, Dear Book Nerd is a bi-weekly advice show with new guest co-hosts each episode. And if you like any of these shows, there are hefty back episodes to keep you busy!

 

The Readers

The Readers is hosted by UK-based Simon Savidge and US-based Thomas Otto. Their discussions are broad-ranging, from talking about literary prizes, to answering listener questions, to playing bookish games….it’s never boring. And the dynamic between these two is so amusing, they’re often poking fun at each other and making me laugh. Like settling in for a chat with friends.

 

Literary Disco

I’m quite new to the Literary Disco podcast, but my plan is to go back through the catalogue and catch up on previous episodes. The 3 hosts – Julia, Tod, and Rider – clearly have a lot of fun recording the podcast and talking about books together. There is also a lot of laughing, and sometimes a bit of swearing. They discuss individual books in detail, but also segue into more general bookish chat too.

 

Drunk Booksellers

Well c’mon, as if you can resist it, look at the title! I am also new to Drunk Booksellers, and not only enjoying catching up on past episodes, but also the GIF-heavy, highly amusing show notes. With episodes conveniently portioned into chapters with titles such as “In Which We Discuss Radioactive Bookworms, Lawnmowers, and What Makes a Good Event“, and “In Which We Discuss Book Problems in the Apocalypse, Kim & Emma Learn About Cities in Canada, and Sam & Emma Get In a Fight“, you know you’re going to be entertained.

 

So that should keep you busy for a while? Let me know what your favourite podcasts are!

 

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Check-in! #ShelfLove and Goodreads Reading Challenges

Janelle says…

I’ve set myself two reading challenges this year – my overall Goodreads Reading Challenge for the total number of books I want to read in 2016, and the #ShelfLove challenge, designed to motivate readers to prioritise books from their own shelves over new purchases or library books. Considering it’s somehow April now (what?), I thought it might be time to check in and see if I’m on track to win these babies!

First of all, my Goodreads challenge. I’ve committed to read 36 books in total this year, and so far this is how I’m tracking:

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Woohoo, going strong! 13 books read so far equates to an average of one book per week, and considering it’s been a busy year to date, I’m happy with that. I’m even considering extending my challenge to maybe 40 or more books. I like to live on the edge.

Secondly, the #ShelfLove challenge. I wanted at least half of my total books read this year to be books I personally own. Based on a goal of 36 books read in total, my #ShelfLove challenge was for 11 – 20 of those books to come from my own shelves. I’m including advance reader copies from publishers or Netgalley as my own books, because they are sitting on my shelf, just not my physical shelf because they’re usually ebooks.

So far, 6 of my 13 books read have been my own books.  Not bad, but that means that 7 of the 13 books have been from the library/borrowed from someone else. No, bookworm, that’s a bad bookworm!

So I’ve got some work to do on that challenge, especially considering that my current read is a library book, and I have another one on hold at the library right now. Mo’ books, mo’ problems, amirite?

Are you doing a reading challenge this year? How are you tracking?

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The Littlest Blogger of Books

We have some very exciting news to share with you!

Last Friday at 7am, Mel gave birth to her first child, a beautiful little baby girl called Phoebe.

Everything went well with no complications, and everybody is healthy, happy and feeling good! The little family has settled in at home and are now finding their rhythm.

Mel will be taking some “maternity leave” from the blog, so I’ll be keeping the lights on by myself for a while!

See you again soon for some more bookish stuff.

Janelle

 

#ShelfLove – A reading challenge for 2016

Janelle says…

I have a problem. I buy books and then I don’t read them. Because I’m too busy reading all the library books I borrow. And my bookshelves have run out of room so I can’t buy any more books! You know, the ones I won’t read anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I really want to read the books that I own. I gaze at the titles on my shelves and I get that fluttery panicky feeling of having too many books in front of me and not enough time to read them all. I want to read them all NOW. But then, I’ll find out about some amazing new book about to be published and I’ll think “I need to read it straight away!” and I jump in the library queue and then all of my library requests arrive at once and I only have a few weeks to read them and AAARRGGHHH!!!

So, obviously I need a good kick up the bum for me to stop reading library books and start reading my own books. I’m not talking an all-out library ban here, I don’t want to completely miss out on amazing new releases! I just need to prioritise my own books for reading. What’s the point of owning all these books if I can’t recommend them to others because I haven’t read them!

 

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Mmm, some interesting books here. And I’d tell you about them, if I’d actually read any of them!

I assumed the Internet would have a solution for me, and of course I found one! I stumbled across the #ShelfLove Challenge, hosted by Bookworm Brandee, Chapter Break, and Second Run Reviews. First, you set a goal for how many of your own books you’d like to read throughout 2016. My overall Goodreads Reading goal for the year is 36 books. I’d be really happy if half of those read books were from my own shelves. So my #ShelfLove Challenge goal is:

11-20 books – pat your shelves on the back!

The challenge guidelines also talk about deciding whether or not you will abstain from buying new books to get your shelves under control. Personally, my favourite event of the year is the local secondhand book fair, and I don’t think I could live if I knew I was missing out on that, so I won’t be abstaining from buying more books for myself. This is simply a motivator to try and get through more of my own books than I have in recent years, and if the pile grows while I’m doing that, then whatever. More books = yay!

I’ll be posting here occasionally throughout the year about how my challenge is going, and linking up with the hosting blogs above, along with other people joining in the challenge from around the world. Wish me luck! Although I don’t think I’ll need it, if I do say so myself, just quietly. I’m very competitive – I love a good challenge!

 

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Our 2015 in books, and reading goals for 2016

2015 was a GREAT year in books, and for our personal reading adventures! What could be more fun than reliving it, with a little wrap-up and a forward glance at our bookish 2016.

 

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Janelle’s wrap-up

How many books did you read in 2015?

37 – which is teeny in the grand scheme of book bloggers and lovers all over, but it was a huge reading year for me!

Did you complete your Goodreads challenge?

And then some – boom!

final greads challenge

Best book/s you read in 2015?

That’s so tough, what a mean question! Going back through the books I rated the highest on Goodreads in 2015, I’d say my favourites were The Girl Who Slept With God, Tiny Beautiful Things (review on its way soon), A Walk In The Woods, Bird Box, and The Magician King (Magicians Series #2).

Book/s you liked the least in 2015?

Go Set A Watchman. It wasn’t just the book itself, but the disappointment in not liking it after all the hype and excitement in the lead up to its release, I was really hoping it was going to be something. But given the nature of the book and the facts surrounding its release, I can’t blame Harper Lee for my not liking it.

How many books will you aim to read in 2016?

My new Goodreads Challenge is to read 36 books. I would usually try and capitalise on the amount I read in the previous year, but this year I plan to read some books that are more on the chunky side that will take me longer to finish.

What are your other reading aims for this year, or what do you hope to get out of your reading in 2016?

I want to read more of the books from my own shelf rather than giving into temptation and requesting library books on a spur of the moment. I own way too many books that I haven’t read!

I’d also like to finish off or at least continue with some series/collections that I’m in progress with – namely the Stieg Larsson “Girl With The” series (I’ve only read the first book, and I’m not interested in reading The Girl In The Spiders Web, technically it’s not by Larsson and that just irks me for some reason), Dan Brown’s books, and Stephen King’s Gunslinger series.

I’d also like to make a conscious effort to read some Australian fiction, I have some titles in mind already and I can’t wait.

High priority books to read in 2016?

All of the books. All of them! I’m currently reading Shantaram, which is a 930-page giant, so finishing that will be a major milestone for me as that book has been intimidating me from my bookshelf for years! There are plenty of authors who I’ve never read before and would like to try in 2016 – Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin, Donna Tartt, Marilynne Robinson, and Liane Moriarty, to name a few.

As for individual books which have my interest piqued right now – The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood, The Bone Clocks and Slade House by David Mitchell, The Trees by Ali Shaw, and Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett.

 

Mel’s wrap-up

How many books did you read in 2015?

I read a total of 21 books this year, which was a huge step up from previous years, while I was a full time university student!!

Did you complete your Goodreads challenge?

Sure did! Completed and surpassed it by 1 book! 21/20 *smiley face*

Best book/s you read in 2015?

Oh MAN!! Let me see; Bird Box, The Rosie Project, The Farm, The Magicians, Gone Girl….ok, I’ll be here all day.

Book/s you liked the least in 2015?

The two flops for me were Annihilation and The Fever. I had high hopes for both and was sorely disappointed.

How many books will you aim to read in 2016?

I have set my 2016 reading goal at 15 books, which is lower than last year as I am expecting my first baby in April, so from what I hear, my solo bookish days are numbered….sigh

What are your other reading aims for this year, or what do you hope to get out of your reading in 2016?

I hope to broaden my reading horizons once again, with introducing new genres into my reading and new authors. I am excited to see where I end up, book wise, by the end of 2016.

High priority books to read in 2016?

Ooh….my husband bought me a bunch of books for Christmas (best husband EVER!) and amongst those are The Divergent and Maze Runner series, so I am eager to read both. Also, Illuminae and the newest Gregory Maguire book, After Alice. Watch this space for the reviews!

 

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