2017 wrap-up – our top books and reading goals

2017…what a confusing little devil you were! Either so up you’re up, or so down you’re down. Frankly, you were a bit silly and you can go in the bin now.

But the good news is, we’ve finally put together our yearly wrap-up and goals for the next 12 months!

Janelle says…

My top 5 books of the year

Fever Dream – Samanta Schweblin

Unsettling, memorable, unique. I can’t compare this book to anything else I’ve read before, and I couldn’t not give it 5 stars after the profound experience of reading it. If you like books that push the boundaries and leave you thinking, you could give this one a try, just not if you’re a more conservative type.

Shelter – Jung Yun

I loved this book for the fact that it was both an exploration in to cultural and generational divides, and a page-turner to boot. It was confronting but also human. A wonderful surprise of a book.

Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

One for the feels! This was all about the characters for me, Hannah Kent does characters so well and I just fell for them. She also does atmosphere well, and this would be a perfect cosy Autumn or Winter read.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

I just want more of this book, I would happily re-read it again and again. This is a bit of a “Swiss army” recommendation for me, it has something for everyone and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it. I can’t WAIT for the movie!

One Dark Throne – Kendare Blake

This series has totally captured my imagination and my heart, I love it so much. The story is captivating and addictive, the world that Kendare Blake has created is intoxicating. Semi-dark fantasy with richly drawn characters (you’ll have a hard time choosing a favourite!). Would be great for Game of Thrones lovers. This is bound for the screen at some point, surely.

 

My reading goals

I failed my Goodreads reading challenge for the first time in 2017, falling short by 5 books. And that’s ok, because reading 43 books in a year is still great. I’ve really re-adjusted my Goodreads goal for this year to be more realistic, and I’m aiming for 24 books. That way, I can get to some of the chunkier books that are waiting to be read and not feel irritated by how long it’s taking me to get through them!

I was also kind of participating in the Shelf Love Challenge again this year. I say “kind of” because I didn’t really pay any attention to this at all after I set my goal, I didn’t blog about it, nothin’. I was aiming for between 21-30 of my books read this year to be from my own shelves, and ended up with a total of 15. Considering I currently have around 170 unread books at home (and that number’s about to grow – the Lifeline Bookfair is coming up you guys, I don’t care I’M GOING), that’s pretty crappy. I’m going to say that for 2018, I want at least 50% of the books I read to be from my own piles at home!

 

Mel says…

My top 5 books of the year

The Dry – Jane Harper

This was one of the first books I completed in 2017 and I called it early in my review with my pick for ‘Book of the Year’. I stand by my initial claim. This book was my favourite read of 2017 and I have recommended it to many people since, who all say they loved it also!

Our Souls at Night – Kent Haruf

This was a cute, easy read that Janelle picked. I loved the warm and fuzzy feelings it gave me and can’t wait to watch the Netflix version.

Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur 

I’m not usually one to read poetry, but this book had so many amazing reviews that I couldn’t resist. It explored darkness, lightness and everything in between. Highly recommend!

The Black Book – James Patterson

My Dad highly recommended this gem to me, as he knows I love anything Crime Fiction. Right from page 1, it reeled me in and didn’t let go until the final page. This was my first James Patterson adventure and I was looking forward to my second, ‘The Zoo’ but that one fell into my DNF pile for 2017.

Force of Nature – Jane Harper

My second Jane Harper pick for Top 5 and I won’t apologise for it, it is well deserved! Can this woman do no wrong? She has me on the edge of my seat from the start of each novel and now I am equally as anxious for book number 3.

My reading goals

As I surpassed my initial Goodreads reading goal in 2016, by 7 books, I set myself high expectations in 2017 with a goal of 30 books. Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve my goal this year and fell short by 12 books coming in at only 18/30 books read. Sigh….

One to keep persisting and pushing myself, I have set my 2018 goal to 20 books in the Goodreads reading challenge and hope I can manage to achieve this, if not surpass it once more!

 

We want to know how your 2017 reading year was! Leave us a comment below!

 

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When you fail your reading challenge…

 

So….we both failed our Goodreads reading challenges for 2017. What does this mean? What is life, even?

There’s only one thing for it. In the words of Aaliyah (R.I.P.), “dust yourself off and try again”. Here’s some more thoughts:

 

Janelle says…

I finished my Goodreads 2017 reading challenge at 43 books read out of a goal of 48. So close, I could throttle something (I’m looking at you, 11.22.63).

I’ve never not completed my Goodreads challenge before. At first I was in a bit of shock, how could this be? I ALWAYS finished my Goodreads challenge. But you know, as much as I would have liked to have read 5 books on 31 December to sneak over the line, that will never happen. No use crying about it, right? I still read 43 books, which is amazing and I’m really happy with that.

On a side note, I also failed my #ShelfLove reading challenge for 2017. Man, I was crrrrap at challenges last year! I was aiming to read between 21-30 unread books off my own shelves, but I ended up only reading 16. Still, that’s more than I got to for this challenge in 2016, so I guess that’s something. And this year I REALLY want to stay away from the library more. I MEAN IT (this time).

More about our 2018 reading goals later…

 

Mel says…

I set my 2017 Goodreads goal at 30 books….I failed miserably and only managed to scrape over halfway with 18/30 books.

Much like Janelle, I blame 11/22/63 for taking up MONTHS of my time with its 1000+ pages but because it was SO good, I will get over that.

2017 was the year I decided to focus on differing genres and I am so glad I did. I discovered some excellent new authors and am very excited for what’s to come in 2018.

 

How about you? Did you win at any reading challenges last year?

 

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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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Take a reading challenge in 2017!

I can’t resist a good challenge, and a reading challenge is the best kind! Not only does it make you accountable to yourself to try and pick up your reading game, it can broaden your reading horizons in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Here are a few ideas for reading challenges you could take up in 2017 if you were looking to add more bookish fun into your reading life!

 

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  • Chapter Break is hosting the 2017 Shelf Love Challenge, I participated in this last year as I found I had been ignoring the books on my own shelves in favour of library books. The goal is to read the books that you own first and foremost, ideal if you, like me, own lots of books that you haven’t yet read. I found it took me a good six months to get the hang of not requesting everything under the sun from the library, but once I started sticking to my library ban it was quite easy to look to my own shelves first, it was a matter of just doing it. I’m going to ramp up my commitment this year to read 21-30 books from my own shelves, which according to the Chapter Break challenge rules is the “give your shelves a warm friendly hug” level!

 

  • The 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge is a handy, fun little list for expanding your repertoire, and very doable. There are 40 prompts for you to attempt, most of which are quite easy, and an additional 12 prompts for those looking for a bit more. You can download a printable version of the challenge if you like to manually tick things off as you go, and there’s even a Goodreads group and an Instagram hashtag to keep you enthused all year.

 

  • The “Challenge Factory” GoodReads discussion thread has LOADS of suggestions from users, ranging from the easy to the advanced, from mini and weekly challenges to year-long ones. Lots of fun, you’re bound to find something that you like. The TCF Hangman 2017 thread looks like a fun game, and I’m definitely going to try the Give Me 5 thread for those times when I can’t pick what I want to read next.

 

  • I’m also going to try to Book Riot Read Harder Challenge this year – this one has a focus on diversity and will really push you to seek books that our outside of your norm. Book Riot offer plenty of backup throughout the year for completing this challenge, including an active Goodreads group, regular videos on the Book Riot booktube channel, and Read Harder book group meetups if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities that hosts them in the US, Canada or Scotland.

 

So, do any of these challenges take your fancy? What are your reading goals for 2017?

 

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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.

2016-reading-challenge-snip

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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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:

Capture

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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#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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