Reading Challenges and making more time for reading in 2018

I have a new strategy for making more time for reading. I have banned my phone and hence Twitter and other distractions from the bedroom.  I now leave my smartphone with all the wonderful time-wasting apps and distractions downstairs and take my ‘dummy’ phone upstairs. This is the phone for listening to audio books and accessing all the delights of BBC iPlayer radio or podcasts (it still functions as an alarm too). I’ve disabled or deleted superfluous apps or hidden them. The phone has no SIM but has wifi enabled. This set up just makes me work a lot harder to get at those distractions so I immediately reach for my book!

Despite good intentions to write down all the books I read with a brief review I am notoriously bad about this. I recently joined ‘Good Reads’ so that I can record my year’s reading and create To Be Read lists and find this much easier to keep up to date. It is also a good place to find book challenges and connect with other readers.

What’s app groups make a fun way to share book recommendations too.  My cousin posted a couple of favourite recent reads to my family group and a flurry of good book suggestions ensued. Now my TBR pile is even bigger!

January is also the time I start thinking about my reading plans for the year ahead and the time when a plethora of Reading Challenges pop up on Twitter and book blogs.

If you are interested in trying a reading challenge have a look at this blog for some suggestions. Generally the aim of the challenge is to encourage you to read outside your usual book habits and try new themes, styles, authors and genres. Penguin have a Classic Book Reading Challenge for 2018. They are spurring people to get around to those classics they always meant to read and recommend a particular classic each month.

I’d love to see some tutor groups taking on a reading challenge this year! We’d be happy to join you and help with buying the books.

Please drop into the library to chat about reading plans or suggest books for stock.


Best books and most borrowed books from Wellington College Library 2017

Popular books from 2017 – Library borrowing lists

Canny library users know that one of the best places to find inspiration for their next read is the ‘Returned Books’ shelf in any library; in fact we often have a display of ‘Recently returned books’ as this effectively serves as recommendations from fellow students and staff.

I enjoyed browsing the titles of most popular books borrowed from the New York Public Library over the Christmas holidays – interesting to see how they differ from the most popular and talked about books in the UK.

Top 10 Books Systemwide (NYPL)

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
  • The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett​

Some of my favourite books from 2017 were:


  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume 1 by Philip Pullman – The first book in the planned fantasy trilogy this time set when protagonist Lyra is a baby. Beautiful writing with wonderful characters and plot. A treat for all ages after many years waiting!
  • My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal. Funny and touching story of a little boy with themes of adoption, fostering and sibling love.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Instructions for a heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
  • Mom and Me and Mom by Maya Angelou
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • Heresy by S.J. Parris

Graphic novels:

We have an ever expanding collection of graphic novels in the library – many of them on history and a great way to absorb lots of information quickly and in an enjoyable format.

  • Hostage by Guy DeLisle
  • Illegal by Eoin Colfer
  • How to understand Israel in 60 days or less by Sarah Glidden

Young Adult Fiction:

  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
  • We come apart by Sarah Crossan
  • Beck by Mal Peet

Most borrowed fiction from Wellington College Library during the Michaelmas Term  (September to December 2017)

  • The woman in black by Susan Hill
  • The outsiders S.E Hinton
  • One by Sarah Crossan
  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
  • The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
  • She is not invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
  • Gone by Michael Grant
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The husband’s Secret Moriarty by Liane Moriarty
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • Big little lies by Liane Moriarty

Top non-fiction last term:

  • Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden  by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  • Periodic tales : the curious lives of the elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Other minds : the octopus, the sea and the deep origins of consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith