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Monday musings on Australian literature: Australian Women Writers’ Challenge 2016

December 26, 2016

AWW Logo 2016For the fifth year in a row, I’m devoting my last Monday Musings of the year to the Australian Women Writers Challenge*.

This year has been one of consolidation rather than of huge change for the Challenge, as we got used to our self-hosted site to which we moved in 2015. The big advantage of this move was that it enabled us to produce a single searchable database of all reviews logged since the challenge started. It now contains reviews for nearly 3,600 books across all forms and genres of Australian women’s writing, an increase of 20% on last year’s total. A good achievement n’est-ce pas?

Once again the Challenge ran some special events during the year, achieved some milestones, and introduced some new initiatives. These include:

A big thanks to author/researcher Jessica White for her special posts on diversity – the Migrant heritage, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage, and writers with a disability  posts – and to Kelly (Orange Pekoe Reviews) for creating the Bingo Challenge, which we hope to run again in 2017. And a shout out too to Brona, Debbie Robson and Elizabeth who often commented on my AWW round-up posts.

The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge is the only challenge I do (or have ever done). This year I posted 30 reviews for the challenge, three more than last year. I managed a similar variety in my reading, but only dipped once into my TBR pile (to read part of Christina Stead’s Ocean of story for Lisa’s ANZLitLovers’ Christina Stead Week). Last year, I challenged myself to tackle my TBR pile and I failed, miserably. I also let the ball drop this year in one of my favourite areas, classic Australian women’s fiction. I’m therefore making no promises, setting no goals (at least publicly!) for next year.

Anyhow, here’s my list of works read for this year (with links to the reviews):

Debra Adelaide, The women's pagesFICTION

Tegan Bennett Daylight, Six bedroomsSHORT STORIES


Emma Ayres, CadenceNON-FICTION

As in each year, there are subtle differences in this year’s list, though none are big enough to suggest my reading tastes have changed! For example, last year 48% of the reviews were for novels, while this year only 40% were. Half of these were debut novels. This year saw a return to 2014’s heavy emphasis on Memoir in my non-fiction reading, though there was some interesting playing with form. Not only were a couple of memoirs told through essays, but I also read three mother-daughter stories which combined elements of memoir with biography.

aww2017-badgeAnyhow, if you are interested in the challenge, you can check it out here. The 2017 sign up form is ready so do consider joining up, as we welcome all – women and men – to join us. I’ll be there again. The challenge is also on Facebook, Twitter (@auswomenwriters), GoodReads and Google+.

Finally, a big thanks to Elizabeth and the rest of the team – including Lewis, our wonderful database developer – for making it all such a cooperative, and enjoyable experience. I look forward to seeing what 2017 brings.

* This challenge was instigated by Elizabeth Lhuede in 2012 in response to concerns in Australian literary circles about the lack of recognition for women writers. I am one of the challenge’s volunteers – with responsibility for the Literary and Classics area.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2016 19:59

    Congratulations, Sue, you are doing a wonderful job:)

  2. Meg permalink
    December 26, 2016 20:09

    Well done Sue, I think I have joined the challenge. I have read 57 books written by Australians this year. The Australian women writers were dominant in my selection. Thirty fiction and ten non fiction were written by Australian women. Sadly, I did not read any poetry or verse by Australian women. That will be my main challenge for next year.

    • December 26, 2016 20:45

      Oh good for you Meg. You haven’t thought about listing them on GoodReads? Or do you do that? Anyhow I’ll be interested to hear how you go with your challenge next year.

  3. December 27, 2016 01:10

    A big year for the Challenge! Well done!

  4. December 27, 2016 03:36

    Looking forward to 2017 with your blog, Gummie.

  5. sharkell permalink
    December 27, 2016 07:37

    I think the AWWC is working – of the 28 books by Australian authors I read this year, 24 of them were written by women.

  6. December 28, 2016 08:34

    Thanks so much for all you do for AWW throughout the year, Sue – the books you read and review here on your blog are only part of it. The challenge wouldn’t exist without your guidance and help behind the scenes. (Is there a hint here that I should change the name of our Facebook group? I was thinking of the #LoveOzYA meme and its success on Twitter.)

    • December 28, 2016 09:27

      Thanks Elizabeth, but oh yes it would exist – there’s always someone around to help.

      No hint from me. I have no expertise in names. It’s hard to find a snappy name with Oz/Aus Women and Lit/Books/Reading.

  7. ian darling permalink
    December 29, 2016 21:46

    Such honest words about the TBR file and I am afraid that I’m just the same. Excellent variety of books you read and reviewed.

    • December 29, 2016 23:42

      Thanks Ian – and I’m so glad I’m not the only one. Thanks for all your thoughtful comments this year. I wish you a wonderful readerly 2017, and hope you keep visiting my corner of the world.

      • ian darling permalink
        December 30, 2016 00:41

        I certainly will because it has been such fun to read about all the wonderful books and writers from Australia.

  8. December 30, 2016 09:27

    Thanks for the shout out Sue! Very kind of you 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading more of your excellent posts in 2017, & now have Anna Spargo-Ryan’s book on my list on account of your review.

    • December 30, 2016 09:55

      A pleasure Jess. Hope we get to catch up again in the not too distant future.

      I’ll be interested in your opinion of Spargo-Ryan.

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