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This post is a little belated but, hey, I’ve been a little busy.

Each year I set myself reading goals for the year ahead. In the hub-bub of daily life it’s easy to lose time and track of the things you want to achieve, so having clear, defined goals can be helpful. For me anyway. You can read my reading challenges of past couple of years here and here. At the end of 2015 you’ll see that I set myself a reading target of 24 books. I know that doesn’t sound like much but that’s still two books a month and (as I’ve said in my previous posts) keep in mind that I work full time in a day job and then spend my nights and weekends writing books and effectively running my own business,, so really two books a month is actually not bad.

So how did I go in 2016, did I hit my target? Here’s what I read:

Technically, yes, I hit my goal, although according to Goodreads I only read 22 books. But the thing with Goodreads is I can only count published books. So in 2016 I read 22 published books….. but I also read a friend’s as yet unpublished manuscript, as well as two friends’ screenplays (one was a TV Pilot and the other was a Feature Film), plus I read another writer’s short story and also an extract from another’s as yet unpublished manuscript. I also started reading another published novel (which would’ve been #23) but I wasn’t enjoying it, so for the first time I actually put a book down and didn’t return to it (and I won’t name which one so don’t ask. The beautiful thing about books, and art in general, is that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so I see no value in telling people a book is no good. Others may LOVE it, so who am I to stop them from reading it? Anyway I digress….).

So in my mind, that well and truly makes up the 24 book target. In word count terms at least. Although in reality I actually read a lot more than that even. I can’t tell you the countless blogs/articles I read on novel writing and the publishing industry, and screenwriting and the screen industry last year. Trust me, 2016 was the year of blog reading for me! I probably read 50 books worth in the end.

But still, if I just focus on the 22 published books I read last year, this is how they are broken down:

SF/F (and sub-genres) = 14

Thriller/Crime/Suspense/Mystery  = 7

Non-Fiction = 1

And this is how I read them:

Kindle Books = 9

Audiobooks = 13 books

Paper books = 0

Again Audiobooks have dominated my reading format. It really is the best way to catch up on books. Time is short in my life, so I try to multitask like boss whenever I can. Audiobooks allow me to ‘read’ while attending to other things. I listen to them while driving home from work (I keep the mornings free to give my mind some thinking time), doing mundane tasks in the day job like filing, etc (podcasts are good for this too), while exercising (perfect for a long walk/run), and while watering my gardens/lawn and cooking dinner.

Another goal I set myself last year was to read the following: 50% books by female authors, 50% books by Australian authors, and 50% books by authors of colour (non-white authors). I hit one of these goals, but missed the others as you can see:

Female Authors = 12

Male = 10

Aussie Authors = 4

Non-Aussie = 18

White Authors = 19

Authors of Colour = 3

*FYI – the unpublished manuscript I read was by a white, male, Aussie. The short story and manuscript excerpts were also by white, male, Aussies. The screenplays were also by white, male, Aussies. So this could skew my above figures if I included them, but alas they are not published novels.

As a woman I’m naturally drawn to female authors, so it was no surprise that I hit this target. However, I am quite surprised at how low my contingent of Aussie authors and POC authors were. Of the two, throughout the year I was actually more mindful of trying to find POC authors than I was Aussie authors, but often I found myself reading something that was either topical (relating to one of the conventions I attended or a book others had been raving about), or that I was just in the mood for at the time. Regardless, the year was what it was, and I can’t go back. All I can try and do is improve on these stats for next year.

So what was my favourite read of 2016? It was a tie between Thomas Harris’ ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ and Karin Slaughter’s ‘Pretty Girls’, neither of which have any SFF elements to them at all – they’re Mystery/Suspense novels. The topic of Karin Slaughter’s book is actually quite nasty so this book won’t be for everyone but I quite enjoyed it – I was engaged with the story and the characters and found myself wanting to get back to it. Both books were listened to on audiobook and the productions were very good too.

What do I plan to read in 2017? I think it’s good to set targets and challenge your habits, but during the year I was starting to feel like it was ‘homework’ and that I wasn’t reading for pleasure anymore. I do think seeking something different to what you normally read is a good challenge. After all, how do you know you don’t like something if you haven’t given it a try? But I also think reading should be a pleasure and not a chore, so I want to make sure I’m actually enjoying what I’m doing and not thinking about ticking any boxes.

So this year, I’m still aiming to read 24 novels, and I will do my damnedest to read as many female, Aussie and POC authors as possible, but I’m not actually setting myself any targets for those categories. I’m not setting myself homework. My 2017 year in reading will be whatever captures my interest at the time. And in some ways, this actually might make for a more interesting a study…

How about you? What books did you read last year and which ones were your favourites?

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Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda is an award-winning writer of both original and tie-in fiction. Her works include the near future crime thriller, THE SUBJUGATE, which is being developed for TV; Scribe Award winning procedural thriller, PANDEMIC: PATIENT ZERO; and Marvel X-Men novel, SOUND OF LIGHT, which has been embraced by Dazzler fans around the world.

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