Saturday, 31 December 2016

What I Read in 2016 (and My 2017 List)

This year I decided my reading needed a bit more structure. In a bid to expand my horizons beyond my comfort blanket of dystopian fantasy and young adult fiction I came across the 2016 Reading Challenge from Modern Mrs Darcy.

12 books in 12 different categories in 12 months. Doesn't sound too hard, does it? Here's what I picked, and how I did:

Looking down the list, it appears I've had rather a pathetic year in terms of reading. Which to some extent has been true. Various work and life things got in the way (as they do). This isn't the first year that I haven't read as much as I wanted to, but the first year in a while that I've really missed reading.

To be fair, I have actually read more books that what's on the list above. At the beginning of the year, I got a bit blase about how long it would take me to complete the challenge (and how long I'd have available) so I merrily downloaded books to my kindle. In addition to the above, I read a couple of excellent YA books by Louise O'Neill (Asking For It and Only Ever Yours), one of James Patterson's YA thrillers and a non-fiction book - The Push.

I also attended a dystopian fiction workshop with Francesca Haig and read the first book in her series, The Fire Sermon, in advance of the session. I really, really had to resist going straight onto the second book - The Map of Bones (which you may notice is on my 2017 list!).

So what didn't I get through? Well despite MANY hours of reading, I still haven't finished War and Peace. But I'm getting towards the end of the epic tale and will finish this off in January. I also ran out of time to pick up Catch-22. I'll move this onto my 2017 list and finally try and get this book finished.

Of the books I did get through, my top two picks would have to be Hugh Howey's Wool and Emily St. John Mantel's Station Eleven. While both dystopian stories, the first is a gripping page-turner whilst the second is written in much more of a literary style. I'd recommend both without hesitation.

So what's on the cards for 2017? Well, I've taken a slightly different approach this year. Firstly I want to read more. A lot more. And should be in a better position to do so than in 2016. I've also realised that, even though I love dystopian fiction, I'm not particularly well read in it. And as those are the stories I want to write, that's something I need to fix. Finally, there are a load of non-fiction books that I've been meaning to read for ages and need to dedicate some time to.

My 2017 list is currently looking something like this:

30 books, in addition to finishing off the everlasting War and Peace. This doesn't mean I won't be reading anything else, but I do want to try and prioritise what's on this list, so I don't make the same mistake as last year.

What do you think? Any books you'd recommend me adding (or storing up for 2018!)?


  1. Hi Ali, it's Charlotte here (cousin!)
    Very nice round up of the books you've read. I also read Station Eleven for my London book club and was really surprised by how gripping the tale was. Not my usual pick, but very satisfying. For next year I'd recommend getting your teeth into Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet (four excellent books) and A Book of Silence, by Sarah Maitland. Looking forward to reading more of your blog in future!
    Charlotte x

    1. Brilliant, thanks for the recommendations - I'll add them to the overflow list I've started! :-)

      Ali xx