British Books Challenge 2017


A new year, a new opportunity for me to read in a way that challenges myself. Last year it was quantity, topping off the year at 216 books which totally astonished me. A couple of years before I was reading barely anything, having just escaped two science degrees where I read mountains and mountains of scientific papers. But the life of a bookseller took me by the heart and reading was all I ever wanted to do.

And now, it is 2017 and we wave goodbye to the societal shitshow that last year was, and look forward to exciting new things and less deaths of personal heroes, I hope. I left behind my shop job and have moved towards focussing on my health, wellbeing and my writing – the latter the most terrifying.

In the last year, I had discovered new authors and genres – oh how I love poetry! – and I realised that I wanted to read more by authors of colour.

When the magnificent Chelley Toy of Tales of Yesterday alerted me to the British Books Challenge I realised it was an opportunity to do just that! The challenge specifies that 12 books much be read, one each month, and so I’m committing myself to a minimum of 12. I think that’s doable.


Britain is a wonderful country of multiculturalism and I am so pleased that I share this land with so many people. However, with Brexit particularly, racism is rising and white people… people who look like me… are abusing, attacking, assaulting people of colour and saying they have no right to be here. This is abhorrent! Abhorrent, ignorant nonsense that hurts people. It ruins people’s lives. Britain is a melting pot of cultures and always always has been. So for me, choosing to read books only by people of colour is to choose to read books that are 100% British or made in Britain to me.

The book world has also long been a place filled with white faces, and I’m going to use this opportunity to seek out the less well known and find the best, most underrated British books out there!

I’m still finalising what books I’m going to read, because I don’t want to decide now and realise I’m missing things, so I will update below as we go. My GoodReads list of ideas is here.

Equally, there are twelve authors of the month and debuts of the month across the year, and I will do my best to cover these as well, but these are secondary to my main challenge of reading works by people of colour.

Keep an eye on this page for updates over the year, and on my YouTube Channel Sew Many Books.


My main choice for the month: The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson.

Debut of the month:

Author of the month: Juno Dawson. I chose to read All of the Above.

What I’ve read so far by British people or people who live in Britain this month:

British books read this month: 13


My February was mostly dominated by reading books in preparation for my event with Elly Griffiths in Ickenham, and thus the British Books Challenge fell almost completely by the wayside, so I’m carrying over my choices from Feb to March!

What I’ve read so far by British people or people who live in Britain this month:



A slow start for reading due to health problems continuing, but managed to get a bit more on track!

My choice for Feb (carried over): Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman.

Author of the Month: Melinda Salisbury! I read The Scarecrow Queen and cried a lot.

Debut of the Month: Open by Gemma Cairney.

What I’ve read so far by British people or people who live in Britain this month:


Another month with little British Books Challenge focussed success due to the addition o my family of a small pupper called Nerys. As such, I didn’t actually plan any books to get reading and have added the books from this month onto future months instead.

Books I’ve read this month by British authors:


*pulls up socks* Okay, time to get back on the horse I think.

My choice for March (carried over): Mama Can’t Raise No Man by Robyn Travis.

My choice for April (carried over): Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

April Author of the Month: C J Skuse

April Debut of the Month: The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd Illustrated by Emma Shoard.

My choice for May: Sorceror to the Crown by Zen Cho.

Books I’ve read this month by British authors:

  • Bad Dreams by Tessa Hadley
  • Defender by G. X. Todd