My 2016 Goodreads Challenge

I’d had a Goodreads account for a while but not really used it until this year. When I was bored I liked to rate books in order to get recommendations but I never used it to track my reading. This year I set myself my first challenge – to read 50 books in 2016. I figured that I’d average a book a week with some wriggle room – easy peasy. Turns out not so much, especially if you want to read Game of Thrones! Here’s a little summary of what I’ve read this year – and what I recommend. FYI, to make this post a bit easier to write, I screenshotted the titles rather than painstakingly add 40-odd images, so they’re in reverse order, starting with the most recently read. I’ve linked to longer review posts where relevant.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

Relativity by Antonia Hayes (*****) is great. When I came to give it a star rating I realised that I couldn’t fault it and gave it five. This will be popping up in a review post in a couple of weeks as I’m taking part in a few book blog tours, so I won’t say anymore.

Luke got me Alias Volume 1 (****) for my birthday because I loved the Netflix Jessica Jones series and wanted to get into the comics. It’s just as hard-hitting as the show and it’s great to see a darker side of comics – plus ass-kicking women!

Jodi Picoult is my favourite writer and she has never put a foot wrong (although I do think Leaving Time stands out from the others). Small Great Things (****) is as hard-hitting as they come.

It was interesting to look at the origins of the Justice League (***) but I expected something a bit grittier and with more character development.

Even though I couldn’t actually bring myself to finish Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl (**), I still gave it two stars instead of one. The background is interesting but it’s really detailed and goes on a bit (well researched though, I’ll give him that!).

I picked up The Jungle Book (**) in a supermarket because I liked the cover of the paperback. The story itself was good (I’ve seen the Disney film so many times) but the short stories also featured in the book didn’t do much for me; I skipped most of them.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

I’ve read a lot of comics in the last year. Batman is my favourite and I subscribe to the Eaglemoss DC Comics, so my collection is growing steadily. Hush (*****) was great and is definitely in my top five Batman stories. Supergirl (**), like JLA Year One, was interesting in terms of reading about the character’s origins but there wasn’t much to it.

Grace Dent’s How to Leave Twitter (***) was pretty hilarious until about two thirds of the way through; then it got a bit samey and I skimmed the end.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

More DC Comics and more Batman stories! The Long Halloween (*****) is by far my favourite. It really surprised me and I was hooked for the first time with a Batman storyline (Ms Marvel and Runaways always keep me wanting more!). I want to read more Harley Quinn (***) stories in the new year.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece (****) is one of those books that I picked up for free at work for World Book Night and sat on my bookshelves for ages. When I finally decided to give it a go I found it really engaging and heart-breaking. And, yep, there were some tears on the bus.

I Am Legend (****) and Headhunters (****) had been knocking about for a while too but were both great reads. I think the adaptation of I Am Legend definitely called for some modernisation, as the story is definitely of its time, but I do much prefer the original ending. Headhunters was a gripping thriller and I’m on a mission to find some time to watch the film now.

After You (****) didn’t pack quite as an emotional punch as its predecessor (****) but, again, there were tears.

The Story of Forgetting (****) was another surprise. I picked it up in a charity shop because I liked the cover and it turned out to be a really beautiful and informative book about Alzheimers. I passed it straight onto my mum because I thought she’d find it interesting as she volunteers in a memory cafe.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

I love Jane Austen and still haven’t quite gotten round to reading all of her books. I picked Northanger Abbey (***) up while we were in Bath two years ago (!) and finally read it this year. It was a lot more suspenseful than the others I’ve read (I’m yet to read Persuasion and Mansfield Park) and I really enjoyed it.

I read the first two Game of Thrones books this year and have a few more to get through. Luke’s listening to the audio books and we’re never at the same point! As I only read while on the bus to and from work, they take me a good two or three weeks to get through and I usually want to read something a bit more light-hearted, so they get a bit neglected. I loved seeing how the characters I’ve come to love in the TV show were set up in the first book and am interested to see how things deviate as the series progresses.

Ms Marvel (*****) and Runaways (****) are two of my favourite comic series. Luke bought me Ms Marvel Volume 1 for my birthday two or three years ago and I was immediately hooked; I’m waiting for Amazon to ship our Volume 6 as I type. He also bought me the final volume of Runaways for Christmas and I’m interested to see how it all ends before the TV show starts.

Room (*****) is another one of those neglected World Book Night titles but after its Oscars glory I figured I should give it a read. It’s amazing how a book can be written from the point of view from a young child and appeal to all ages. I’m a big YA fan but this was completely different and I really do recommend it.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

Luke subscribes to the Eaglemoss Marvel comics and I dip into his collection from time to time – usually when there’s a new Avengers film on the way!

I decided to re-read Catcher in the Rye (****) because I needed a short read. It’s funny how you notice different things when you revisit a book. It made me want to re-read The Bell Jar as I read them both for the first time at the same age.

Oh my gosh, Holly Bourne has quickly become one of my favourite writers. Like, top five. Am I Normal Yet (*****) is an insightful look at a teenage girl’s struggle with OCD (and all the other dramas of growing up). When I was in college a friend of mine suffered from OCD so it was really interesting to read from that angle. I also love The Spinster Club and can’t wait to read the rest in the series; I got them for Christmas!

I love Caitlin Moran’s writing. I wasn’t so much a fan of How to Be a Woman or How to Build a Girl but I love her columns. Moranthology (****) reminded me of the kind of writer I want to be and I want to read Moranifesto soon.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

The Night That Changed Everything (***) was a review copy, co-written by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice. It was interesting reading a novel written with a male and female perspective and I’d be interested to read more from them. It was a bit chick lit-esque whereas I expected something a little bit deeper.

The Shopaholic series is a guilty pleasure and I can’t resist each new title. Shopaholic to the Rescue (***) was exactly what I expected – a fun read.

I read and watched the Hunger Games series completely out of order, starting with the first two films, then the first two books, then the third film, the third book and the fourth film. I liked that I had seen the films with no expectations and had planned to read Mockingbird (****) after seeing the final film but it was something I didn’t get round to – I still have the ending of the film to see on Netflix! As with Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hobbit, etc, the films(s) were dragged out needlessly (kerching!) and the books handle the content a lot better.

Spider-Gwen (****) is possibly the prettiest comic series ever. Have you seen those covers?! I still want a massive print.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

When I went back to work I picked up some books that had been sat on the shelf for a while. Thor: The Goddess of Thunder (***) was another gift from Luke; I’m loving the women storming the comic book titles at the mo!

Buffy (***) was a title that I picked up secondhand as I was interested in seeing where they took it after the TV show ended. It was a bit weird (giant Dawn!) and I don’t think I’ll be reading any more.

I really loved The Martian (****) both on the page and on the big screen. It was a pretty faithful adaptation but with a bit more science in the novel. Both are well worth checking out.

Cecelia Ahern is another of my favourite writers; I can’t resist a new release, although funds have kept me from the last couple. She always manages to make me well up, even with her more fantastical titles.

my goodreads reading challenge 2016

Yep, I’m ending the year just shy of my target, although, if memory serves, I read an Angel comic when I read Buffy and I read Part 2 of JLA: Year One too… but whatever. I’m going to set my target for next year at 50 again because I think I can make it this time. I returned to work early February so I reckon the extra month can buy me a couple of titles.

What have you enjoyed reading this year? Any surprises?

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