Goodreads Reading Challenge : 2015

At the beginning of 2015, I set myself the slightly ridiculous challenge of reading fifty books in the year. You can read more about it here but my basic thought process was that I had a lot of books sitting on my bookshelves that I hadn’t read and I wanted to change that. I’d rather gaze upon my shelves and mentally check off the majority of them as read, rather than just seeing a looming, ever-growing “to read” pile. So set myself a crazy challenge I did. How did I fare?

Well, not so great. Actually, no, I think I did pretty damn well really. I read 41 of the 50 I was aiming for. I was on track for the majority of the year, in fact, I believe I was even ahead of schedule early on in the year. Then I started reading Game of Thrones.

I know! I know! What a colossal cock-up that was. It meant I spent from August to December devouring that whole series, which was, let’s be honest, great because those books are awesome, but also not so great because it meant I fell very much behind on my read-one-book-a-week schedule. Around mid-December time, I realised that “Oh yes, that’s right, I said I would read fifty books this year. Huh. I wonder how far off I am.” *checks Goodreads* HAHAHA only 11 books HAHAHA. After realising this, my friend Laura and I had a conversation that went along the lines of:

Me: Man. I have 11 books to read to meet my challenge this year.
Laura: Bahaha. Go go, quick, you might manage it! It’s like one a day lol.
Me: Oh god, it practically is.

So yeah, it didn’t happen. I tried valiantly. Well. I say valiantly. I tried, kinda. I was just so exhausted at the end of last year that I often wasn’t in the mood to sit down and power through a book. I thought maybe I could just extend the goal into this year and finish reading the nine books I need to. But then I lost interest in that too and the more we entered January, the more it just seemed silly to try and drag out a challenge from the previous year. So I’m facing the fact that I just did not achieve my goal of reading 50 books. And that is more than okay. I still read a heck of a lot! I made a decent dent in my bookshelves! I’m pretty happy overall.

Enough chin wagging! Here are my thoughts on the 41 books I read in 2015:

Best book

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. So. Good. I’ve raved about it many times and will continue to do so.

Worst book

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. So. Bad. I didn’t identify with the main character, Holden, and didn’t even like him. It felt as if there was very little point to the book; the plot got lost about halfway through it seemed. There was also very little character development in my opinion. It’s always a let-down when a classic turns out to be so dull, isn’t it? What do you think about this book?

Most helpful book

Craft for the Soul by Pip Lincolne. What a cracker of a book this one is. I found it full of handy tidbits from morning habits to creativity. Even months after reading it, my mind keeps drifting back to a lot of the points Pip made. I think I might re-read it and do a proper review on here sometime soon.

Most inspiring book

Very Good Lives by J. K. Rowling. Because apparently everything this lady touches turns to gold. Literary gold. It’s a short read as it is the speech J. K. made at Harvard University and covers things like dealing with failure, imagination, and creativity.

Most disappointing book

Paper Towns by John Green. Urgh. I was not a fan of this book, which greatly disappointed me. I anticipated that I would enjoy it as much as The Fault in Our Stars but no. I just could not get on board. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable or interesting and the plot was a tad dry.

Most surprising book

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis. I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I’d seen a few copies floating around some local op shops over the past year or so and picked it up and put it back down every time – not sure why. Then I read a review of it somewhere, and saw that quite a few people doing the A Year of Australian Writing challenge were recommending it and thought I’d give it a crack. So the next time I saw it, I grabbed it. I found it so refreshing and giggled out loud a lot. Highly recommend it.

So there you have it. Another year in books gone by. Crazy stuff. I have a different kind of reading challenge in mind for this year but will save that for another post. Looking forward to it though!

What have you enjoyed about reading this year? Have you read something you normally wouldn’t? What was your favourite book?


Jacquie is a 20-something maker and writer from Melbourne. She enjoys eating virtually anything that is labelled salted caramel and, contrary to popular belief, has forgotten how to ride a bike. She feels ambivalent about writing in the third person but thought it might be fun. It was.


  1. Catherine Elizabeth

    Oh, Game of Thrones was nearly my downfall too! Mind you, I only read the first one and my reading challenge was only 20 books, haha, but GoT definitely slowed things down.
    I loved Pip’s and J.K Rowling’s books too. In fact I think I’m going to re-read both soon, I’m in need of some inspiration. I was also thinking about checking out Lost and Found, so I’m glad to hear how much you liked it. Looking forward to hearing about your next reading challenge!


    1. birdandfox

      They’re hefty books, hey? I was only planning on reading one too but then my OCD mind was like “NO WE MUST FINISH THE SET”.

      I agree about re-reading Pip’s and J. K. Rowling’s books. I rarely re-read books actually but I think those two are ones I’ll always go back to.

      I certainly enjoyed Lost and Found but have read that some people didn’t love it. I’ll be interested to hear what you think if you do read it! Thanks Catherine 🙂


  2. Kate (@onesmalllife)

    I don’t think you should be down on yourself about not finishing by any stretch. You still read nearly 3 and half books a month, so very well done! Anyway reading is supposed to be an enjoyable leisure time activity, among other things, so no point making it burdensome. I only set myself the much lesser, but also realistic (for me) challenge of 12 books last year and I almost didn’t make that either so….. I’m doing 12 again this year and have already finished two. January though, a great time for reading, I always slow down again once the pace of the year picks up. Great to hear your thoughts on your reads. x


    1. birdandfox

      Oh I know 🙂 I’m chuffed with how many I read, don’t worry. I just liked the idea of challenging myself!

      I hear ya – there are always going to be those busy periods where “life things” just take over and reading gets pushed down a wee bit on the priorities list. You’re already off to a great start on your challenge by the sounds of it though! 😀 Good luck for the rest of the year!

      Thanks for stopping by, Kate 🙂


  3. Sew Crafty Deb

    Holy dooley!! 41 books is an awesome effort and absolutely nothing to feel disappointed about. I think I managed about 10 books and a couple of those I’m still not quite finished. And of course Game of Thrones will slow anyone down. I think it took me a whole year just to read the first two. Interesting to read your thoughts on the books you read. I’m quite keen to read Very Good Lives. Surely I should be able to find the time for that one. And I have to agree about Catcher in the Rye. I read it a very long time ago and from memory I don’t think I finished it. It was so boring!!


    1. birdandfox

      Very true! GoT is a beast of a series. How did you find the first two? Have you watched the TV series? I haven’t seen any of it – I was very keen to read it all first – so I’m looking forward to starting a marathon sometime soon.

      Highly recommend Very Good Lives as a quick, snappy, and uplifting read. I hope you find the time for it too!

      Oh thank GOODNESS. So glad it’s not just me on the Catcher in the Rye front. Very dull, in my opinion.

      Thanks so much for stopping past, Deb 🙂


  4. Carolyn

    41 books is an amazing effort! I’ve nominated a paltry 16 for my challenge this year – but nearly finished number 2 so ahead of schedule! I loved Opposite of Loneliness to and wrote about it here My favourite was The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop. And I thought Lost and Found was quite cute too. I read Catcher in the Rye a few years ago – not my favourite but I find that with a bit of Amercan classic fiction. Just dullsville!nOne that didn’t live up to the hype for me was Burial Rites – just couldn’t get past what I knew was going to be the brutal end. Do you have a challenge for this year?


    1. birdandfox

      Wow, you’re already powering through! That’s a great start to the year 😀 I haven’t heard of The Other Side of the World but will have to look it up. Haha dullsville indeed – glad it wasn’t just me! I thought I was missing something! Oh, I really enjoyed Burial Rites but I know someone else who didn’t like it much too. It’s funny how some books can live up to the hype (for some people) but others just can’t. I do have a challenge for this year but I’m not quite in the right frame of mind to start it just yet. So I’m waiting till it feels right and then I’ll blog about it 🙂
      Thanks Carolyn! I’ll pop over and read your thoughts on The Opposite of Loneliness this arvo!


  5. Clare at CatsEatDogs

    Holy cow! 41 books, that is nearly one a week. It takes me a month or more to read one book! In fact I have the new John Irving book from the library and I will only have it for two weeks, so I really don’t know why I am bothering, but I am going to try and finish it.


    1. birdandfox

      Oh I think you can give it a red hot go, Clare! I definitely had to get into the habit of making time specifically for reading. I would make myself a cuppa after coming home from uni, and curl up on my bed with my book. I also read before bed a fair bit, though I think my brain has now associated books with sleepiness as I often don’t last more than one page! I have to say I haven’t read any John Irving – do you recommend? I hope you enjoy it 🙂


  6. Isabel

    41 books is impressive Jacquie. Who cares that you didn’t quite meet your 50 books in 2015? I normally agree with you on most things, but I also read Cather in the Rye last year and it was better than I expected. Yes, the main character was kind of a lad-about-town type and not exactly sympathetic, but I found it a quick, light read and actually funny too. With Very Good Lives by JK, I can’t help but be a bit cynical about the fact that this was a speech (a GREAT speech) to Harvard students quite a number of years ago, available for free on the internet, which was then turned into a commercially available book. Still, I guess if she gives the money she makes from it to charity or something, then it’s fair enough. I’ve been reading lots of good things lately, but have to save them to talk about on my podcast, or else I’ll run out of new material! Good luck with any reading challenges you set yourself in 2016 x


    1. birdandfox

      Ooooh controversy! Hehe 😛 Man, I really wish I’d liked the book. I really wanted to. I think I probably read it too close to reading some current fiction and maybe went in with some subconscious expectations or something. And yes, I do agree with you on the whole free Harvard speech/book to buy thing re Very Good Lives. And I can confirm she does give the sales money to Lumos, her charity.

      SO excited for your podcast! I think I might download it and listen to it on my drive into uni 🙂

      Thanks Isabel! I’m pretty happy with my effort last year 😀 I have an idea for a reading challenge for this year but I may just take a break for a while and start later or save it for next year. xx


  7. Laura

    Bro, you read 40 books INCLUDING GoT. That is highly impressive. In fact, that’s probably the fastest anyone has ever read GoT. Maybe we should do some serious math and figure out how many PAGES we read and set a goal based on that. Ok, I’m getting carried away. But still. Great effort! I can’t wait to see what you read this year. Also, Very Good Lives is waiting for me at the library and I am so excited (it better be good :P).


    1. birdandfox

      Haha thanks, pal! Look, I’d be okay with the page numbers goal thing if magazines could be included 😀 I think they should be *nods*
      I’ve read a few books this year but none have been particularly spectacular. I’m keen to read more poetry and classics this year so hopefully I find some gooduns!
      Ooh yes, I hope you enjoy Very Good Lives too. It’s funny, I was reading it in J.K. Rowling’s voice! It’s quite soothing without meaning to sound creepy.


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