Around this time last year, I signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016. I read quite a lot, but I’ve never quantified how many books I would get through in a year, so I decided to set myself a target of one book a week, or fifty-two for the year.
During the summer holidays, I felt I was well ahead and should have set my target a little higher, but at the end of September, I got a new job and since then, I have read precious little!!! I found myself rushing through the last few books since Christmas, but just about made my target today. I think it was a really worthwhile challenge as it kept me reading when I might have found other distractions (looking at you, Twitter!!).
Looking back on the list, I’m glad to see I enjoyed most of what I read. The stand-out titles include the 2015 and 2016 Man Booker Prize winners, A Brief History of Seven Killings (which I expected to hate!) and The Sellout, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, The Glorious Heresies and Solar Bones, all of which pushed me well beyond my comfort zone in different ways. The very last book I read this year, Damage by Josephine Hart, was a surprise hit – it’s been on my shelves for years as part of a series on Irish women writers produced by the Irish Independent. I was searching for something short to ensure I met my deadline, but this dark tale of destruction truly gripped me and I’ll be searching out some of her other titles.
I read a number of so-called bestsellers during the year, including The Girl on the Train and My Brilliant Friend, but found both books disappointing, perhaps because I just couldn’t find a point of identification with either of the two lead characters. The Visitor by Maeve Brennan was a great read, part of my attempt to read more Irish women writers, especially those featured in last year’s The Long Gaze Back anthology. Twelve Irish women writers feature in my list, a number I hope to build on – they were some of the books I enjoyed the most.
I read a number of Young Adult titles also, primarily work-related. One by Sarah Crossan was highly recommended and lived up to the hype, and I also enjoyed The Gamal (why had I not heard of this one before it appeared on a Leaving Cert. English text list?) and Persepolis, my first graphic novel experience.
My first book of 2017 will be The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, one of my favourite writers, and I think I’ll try to hit the one-per-week target again for the year ahead. Worryingly, on a recent visit to a bookshop, I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy, but I’m sure there are some wonderful titles ahead in 2017! Feel free to pass on any recommendations.
Here’s what I read in 2016: