366 books wrap up or how I will never ever ever again set a daily book reading target

It’s a few days into 2013 and I have finally looked at my 2012 reading. At the beginning of the year I stupidly set myself a target of 366 books in 366 days. Yes STUPIDLY. I had been doing challenges for several years but I decided to up the ante in the National Year of Reading. My definition of book was any publication with an ISBN. It did not need to be long narrative, it could be picture books, photo essays, interior decorating and cooking along with novels of any sort. By September I was ready to declare reading bankruptcy. I was setting aside nights for reading as well as spending a few hours a fortnight at a library. I found my casual reading had become a chore that was to be added to my many other tasks. This of course was ontop of all my journal reading and news reading and twitter reading and blog reading and work reading and report reading and all the other peripheral reading that comes with life. It was tiring. And all I can say is thank god for picture books and rereading for they were the only way I was going to meet my ridiculous target. And in particular, my rereading of old favourite romances that I had stowed away or found at op shops made me feel enlightened as I was viewing them with middle aged eyes when previously I had viewed them as a teenager. For some books, such as Charlotte Lamb’s Desire and Sara Craven’s Sup with the Devil I retained my love for them but others had not aged well over three decades such as Jo Calloway’s A Classic Love that I thought was totally romantic as a 15 year old but as a 43 year old I was horrified by the psychotic, stalker behaviour.

Oddly enough, I had 2 months where I was ill with severe asthma and I read less in that time than the rest of the year and I still met my target. It wasn’t all grumpy reader though. I did discover some amazing authors that I have added to my “must read” list.

Another thing that happened this year is that after 6 years of being on WeReads I transferred all my books over to GoodReads which has a social interaction that I never felt over at WeReads. This has proven to be both good and limiting for reasons that I won’t go into on this post. My actual reading is much broader than is represented on GoodReads and certainly I can’t list my favourite blogs so I am interested in keeping a list of my blog reading somehow and I am open to suggestions.

Here is a link to all my 2012 books: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4452547-shallowreader-vaveros?read_at=2012

As for some of my 2012 stats and my favourite reads of the year:

366 books:

137 novels (including graphic novels, junior and young adult novels)

160 picture books with 42 library storytime recommendations.

29 non-fiction narrative books and 44 non-fiction pictorial books (cookbooks, interior decorating, humour etc).

My first (It’s Always Been You) and last (Close Enough to Touch) books were by Victoria Dahl and I also read one other book (Real Men Will) by her during the year. All three were enjoyable reads (2 got five stars and 1 got 4 stars).

Most read author: Charlotte Lamb (10 books) followed closely by Sara Craven (8 books).


Female  266 (49 Australian Women Writers)

Male 130

This number is a misrepresentation as I only counted the first author listed for each book which means some wonderful illustrators were not counted in the male/female divide. I am surprised at the high number of male authors though I think that the picture books I read may have skewed this number.

My favourite books

I read 77 five star books (and only 16 one star books) so I have chosen the wonderful titles that stand out for me. I have also chosen to list first time reads only and not to list any favourite rereads.


A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant filled me with wonder. Beautiful language, awkward sex and land economics. Wonderful!

Temptation by Charlotte Lamb. A retro romance read that with a lyrical first half and a vicious, bitter second half that tore the hero to bits. This book blew me away!

Easy by Tammara Webber. A book that had me anxious throughout. Beautifully written characters. Loved it.

The Devil and the Deep by Amy Andrews. I grinned throughout this book. A story within a story, contemporary romance with glimpses of a historical romance that the author character had written. A childhood crush, great dialogue and hot hot hotness. I nearly didn’t add this book as I wasn’t sure if I was influenced by the fact the author sent me a copy of the book but a week after I finished it I can’t wait to reread it.

What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne Long. I loved the private discussions in this book. They were cheeky and made me anticipate each page.

Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox. The trans-American bike ride as the setting for this fab romance carried the story for me. I used google maps to follow the relationship.

Picture Book romances:

Lilli-Pilli: the Frog Princess by Vashti Farrer is gorgeous. It is a picture book historical regency romance with a ball and a handsome prince and overall awesomesauce.

The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate by Joy Cowley is a pirate romance. A feisty heroine sparring with the pirate hero and sparks do fly. Spectacular!

Picture Books:

The Dreadful Fluff by Aaron Blabey. A book about killer belly button fluff being hunted down by a kickass heroine. Fan-bloody-tastic! Blabey is brilliant!

Hunting for Dragons by Bruce Whatley. I love Whatley’s books. Cool, ambling, fun!

King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bentley. Ever so sweet a story of kids playing castles in their back yard. Gorgeous illustrations, heroic and fun with a touch of young child angst.

The Aunties Three by Nick Bland. Snarky fun. Auntie humour. This book may thrill me purely because I have 3 sisters and all our kids will relate to this fab book.

The Singing Mermaid by Julia Donaldson. As usual, the rhythm and rhymes of Donaldson’s books are perfect with a wonderful storytelling of a captive mermaid.

Reading in Action (that is two words) Challenge 2013

I am on the verge of completing my 2012 reading challenge. I set myself the aim of reading 366 books. I am currently reading number 365 and I am quietly confident that I will make my target. I will write a separate blog post about it. This post however is my challenge for 2013. I did not want to post it next week as it would strike me too much of a New Year’s Resolution and too easy to break.

I have spent the last 4 years doing reading challenges and book binges. I can honestly say that though they stretch me timewise, they do not challenge me as I love reading. I have noted that my reading was much broader 4 years ago when I look at previous years’ books. I now read romance novels almost exclusively but this does not concern me. 20 years ago I read literature almost exclusively. Reading preferences change over time. But what reading does is make me sedentary and this is not good. I need to get up, stretch, walk and exercise and I am going to do a Reading in Action challenge.

My Reading in Action challenge is the following:

To walk 5 kilometres for every book I read with more than 100 pages

To walk 1 kilometre for every 20 pages for books with less than 100 pages

To not start another book until I have completed my associated walking, the exception being picture books as I usually read 4 or 5 in a sitting at which point I will do the cumulative walking after the one sitting

If it is a rainy season, I will use my rowing machine as a substitute to cover the same distance.

I will continue reading at my own pace and I will keep track of books on Goodreads as I have been doing for many years (on WeRead before I moved to GR). I will specifically be noting my Australian Women Writer’s Reading and Reviewing books (AWW13) and following the www.readwatchplay.wordpress.com monthly themes but I am not going to set any targets.

I guess my next step after writing this blog post is buying a pair of walking shoes.