The 2018 Reading Challenge

reading challenge

Devoted readers and aspiring readers: want to get more out of your reading life in 2018? We’ve got a challenge just for you, and a free reading challenge kit to help you see it through.

Here on Modern Mrs Darcy, we love reading, but don’t believe it’s a competitive sport. We care about quality way more than we care about quantity: reading well doesn’t necessarily mean reading more.

We’re entering our eighth (!!) year of helping readers get more out of their (reading) lives. The goal of the 2018 Reading Challenge is to read amazing books in 2018. To do that, you need amazing books and time to read them. We can help.

Step 1: Choose amazing books.

This is our fourth annual reading challenge, and every year we collect feedback on what works for our readers. We’ve carefully created a new category list for 2018, with twelve categories that have a phenomenal success rate when it comes to delivering a fantastic reading experience.

On our list, we won’t ask you to read a book that’s periwinkle blue, or that’s by an author who shares your name, or that has a vegetable in the title. Instead, we’re focusing on twelve categories that have delivered best-of-the-year reading experiences to thousands of readers over the years. Our supporting role here on MMD is to share amazing books on this blog and on my podcast, What Should I Read Next, so you have plenty of excellent titles to choose from, all year long.

These categories are diverse and doable, varied in style and scope, structured enough to avoid decision fatigue but broad enough to offer numerous options. (The Reading Challenge Kit includes a printable planning sheet.)

We’ve chosen twelve categories—for twelve books—because that’s far more than the average reader reads in a year, but few enough to let you choose those titles with care. More is not necessarily better, although we’re providing tracking tools for those of you who want to read more in 2018. Keep reading.

reading challenge 2018

Step 2: Make time to read.

For a great reading year, you need amazing books and time to read them. For some of you, reading is already a habit. High five! For others, reading is a habit you would very much like to develop in 2018.

The best motivation to read more is to have amazing books waiting on your literal or metaphorical To Be Read pile. (See Step 1.) Next best? The reminders and tools we’ve created for you in our Reading Challenge Kit.

  1. A category checklist for you to check off and document your books as you read them.
  2. Our #IdRatherBeReading phone wallpaper (illustrated by my amazingly talented friend, Jenny of Carrot Top Paper Shop): download this and set it as your home screen wallpaper to remind yourself to pick up a book instead of scrolling through Instagram, again. (It’s sooo pretty—visit Instagram to see Anne’s in action.)
  3. Our daily habit tracking bookmark printables. Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Mark off the days you read (it’s up to you to decide how many minutes it takes to “count” a day) so you can see at a glance how many days you make reading a part of your life in 2018. The goal is awareness, not perfection.

Step 3. Track your reading.

Record what you read. The title and date read are sufficient, but you’re free to make your log as simple or complex as you’d like. We’re providing simple printables to track your progress in our Reading Challenge kit.

If you don’t track your books, now’s the time to start. I note mine in my bullet journal, but other readers use dedicated reading journals, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, or Excel to track their books. Choose whatever method you like—just choose one. (Inspiration abounds in Episode 64 of What Should I Read Next: How 15 WSIRN listeners track their books. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.)

For our journalers: the Reading Challenge kit includes bookshelf sketches that you can print and paste or trace into your journal to visually track the number of books you’ve read. Choose from three options: some of the shelves hold barely more than a dozen titles; one shelf holds closer to a hundred. Decide how ambitious you want to be, quantity-wise, print the drawing that’s right for you, and color in the books as you read them.

Let’s get started! Enter your email below to join the 2018 Reading Challenge and we’ll immediately send you your free Reading Challenge kit. Plus we’ll stay in touch throughout the year with tips and encouragement to help you meet your reading goals.

Looks like you've already signed up for the reading challenge. Would you do me a favor and share this with someone you think wants to get more out of their reading life in 2018?

Pin the challenge graphic for inspiration and share it with your fellow book-lovers. We’ll revisit the challenge periodically here on the blog to share what we’re reading.

Browse the book list archives here for reading ideas, and start making your lists. Share this with your fellow book lovers (I’ll be using the hashtags #IdRatherBeReading, #MMDchallenge and #MMDreading on Twitter and Instagram and you can tag me @annebogel). But most of all, enjoy the challenge.

It’s so good to be among people who are reading, and I’m looking forward to reading with you all in 2018. This is gonna be great.


Leave A Comment
  1. Christina says:

    Hi! I love this. When I signed up, it took me to a post, but no Reading Challenge Kit. Am I confused, or is it not available yet?

  2. Susan in TX says:

    Love it! Love the categories. Love the encouragement to read more and enjoy it more, and of course, to track it! Thank you, Anne!
    (and especially appreciate the drop from 600 to 500 pages in that category!)

  3. Katie says:

    This is so fun! I love the reading challenge each year! Great illustration for your top picture, is that your library Anne? How neat! Can’t wait to dig into my kit!

  4. Lorna says:

    Hello! As a subscriber, I received the Reading Challenge email this morning and was able to click the hyperlinks to reach this post, but the one for the kit didn’t work; it just made a move to transfer, but kept on a blank page. 🙁

    • Katie says:

      Hi Lorna! The link in the email to download the kit shouldn’t have taken you to a new page but should instantly start a download. How this looks probably depends on your browser, but I know it worked for me in Chrome this morning. You might have to hit “yes” or “accept” or something depending on your settings to start the download. If this doesn’t work, just email me at [email protected] and I’ll email it to you.

      • Lorna says:

        Thanks! When I opened it on my desktop, it worked and downloaded fine, but as a download, it wasn’t working when I first viewed it on my phone.

  5. Karen Floyd Shepherd says:

    I’ve been doing the Goodreads challenge for a number of years now – that’s what people say when they don’t remember the actual number! – and I’ve decided to add yours this year because I like the categories idea. It’s all too easy to stay within one’s reading comfort zone.

  6. Angie Murdock says:

    Can you help me with the phone wallpaper? I was able to print the reading list but can’t figure out how to get the wallpaper into my photos. I am using an iPhone. Thanks!

  7. Tish MacPherson says:

    I want to pass on a very good read. One that I enjoy every Christmas season & I have not seen you recommend it (forgive me if you have). It is Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. Please recommend it – your followers will thank you!
    P.S. – Loved your new book, Reading People.

    • Lazyretirementgirl says:

      Her books are so nice — high class fluffies. ? My absolute favorite is The Shellseekers. I reread it every few years.

    • Ruth says:

      Great to find out someone else reads Winter Solstice every year! This year I was intrigued to discover the dates match the days of the week (in Lucy’s diary especially). I loved Coming Home and Shell Seekers too but this one gets dusted off every winter.
      I am fairly new to MMD but enjoying the book ideas and favorite links very much.

    • Michelle says:

      I discovered both of these books a couple of years ago and just loved them! The writing quality just immersed me, a mark of a real win for me.

  8. Karen says:

    Yay! I have been anxiously waiting to see the 2018 challenge! Can’t wait. Now to write up my wrap-up post for this year’s challenge and then get started picking initial titles for 2018!

  9. Everything here – the challenge, the free printables – what a gift! THANK YOU! I’ve just made the screensaver my computer pic, and I think these categories are my absolute favorite of any of your reading challenges yet! Looking forward to putting the beautiful book sketches into my bullet journal (and Powersheets) to track my reads. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to the entire MMD team! 🙂

  10. Melanie says:

    I received the Zip file, but when I try to open the library lockscreen image I get a error message that says the picture can’t be opened because it’s been deleted or the location isn’t available.

  11. C says:

    I decided to do both (for growth/for fun) reading challenges last year…I am frantically trying to read 5-6 more books in the last couple of weeks! So much fun!

  12. Nickie says:

    THIS is a reading challenge to get excited about. I have never done a yearly challenge b/c I always hated the categories. You nailed this one!! So excited to get started! Thanks Anne!

  13. Jennifer N. says:

    I love the lock screen photo! What a perfect way to remind yourself to read instead of browsing Instagram for an hour. I completed most of both available MMD challenges for 2017 (that counts as completing one, right?) so I’m very excited to start your 2018 challenge.

    My BuJo has been woefully neglected for several months now. These graphic reading trackers are a perfect way for me to spice it up and get back into it! (I am definitely not as on top of things without it!)

  14. Rissie Lundberg says:

    Thanks so much for the reading challenge 2018!! I did both reading challenges in 2017. I liked it because my TBR list is so long that I have a hard time deciding what to read next. Now, I pick a category and see if a TBR book can fit the bill. It works really well for me and I had a wonderful reading year. Thanks again!

    • Heather Cobun says:

      Exactly… I’ve stumbled on books outside my reading comfort zone that I’ve ended up loving while ticking a more “frivolous” challenge prompt off my list.

      I recommend the MMD list for people who are interested in the idea of a reading challenge but are not voracious readers. It’s a great way to get back into reading or refocus your reading life, but I like finding a book by an author from my state AND a book by an author of a different ethnicity!

  15. Sarah says:

    Long time podcast listener and reader, but I’ve never done the challenge! I am looking forward to everything but banned books because I’ve come across that category so often that there isn’t anything that sparks my interest left to read.
    Also, if anyone has a strategy for picking a book award nominee for 2018, I would love to hear it. I can think of so many 2017 nominees, but that will probably stop me from finishing the challenge until the end of the year!

  16. Donna says:

    I’ve been waiting for this Anne! This will be my third year in a row doing the challenge. Thanks to you I read 58 books in 2015 and 82 in 2016. A big improvement over 2 books in 2014!
    This year has been a slow reading year for me (I’m in a paralegal program so not much spare time!) but I’ve read about 30 books this year.
    Thanks so much for pushing me to read out of my comfort zone! I now love translated books and short stories! ?
    Love from Toronto! ??

  17. Donna says:

    Also, I completely agree with you about tracking your reading. I make a list of a 100 books at the beginning of January, share it on my blog, and cross them off as I go along.

  18. Jackie Davis says:

    I had a family issue this year that consumed my life so I’m looking forward to getting back to reading a lot and this challenge will help me with that goal. Thanks, Anne!

  19. Eva Toews says:

    Hi. I signed up for your reading challenge but never got the email with the reading kit link. Can you help please? Thanks!

  20. Tori says:

    I’m so excited to jump in to this! Could you give a little more explanation on “a book in translation”? I assume this isn’t as literal as I am reading it, but I’d love to hear what you had in mind for that category!

  21. Amy says:

    I can not wait to get started planning my list! I am also sharing with my IRL book club next week. 🙂 We have a jump start on one of the items already–read banned books. Our 2018 reading theme is banned books. I’d love to hear some favorites from all of you!
    Thank you, Anne (and Ginger!) for all of your work putting this adventure together.

  22. Rachael says:

    So excited! This is my 3rd year participating, and I adore it! Is there going to be an extended list (deluxe) like last year?

  23. Myra says:

    Once you sign up for the email and confirm that you are not a robot, how long does it take to get the email? I am waiting for it and wondering if there is a problem.

  24. Maryalene says:

    I clicked the link in the email and downloaded the zip folder but get an error when I try to open up the individual files within the folder. Anyone know what I might be doing wrong?

    Thanks in advance!

  25. Maryalene says:

    P.S. I usually read the blog via Feedly on my Kindle Fire, but I using my laptop today. I must have missed whenever it was redesigned from the blue board background to this one. Site looks great!

  26. Wendy says:

    Is there another format you can send the kit in besides a zip file? We haven’t had the need to open a zip file in ages (Mac users) and I guess my engineering husband took the app off to open it.
    It’s as if a mystical key is dangles just out of reach!
    Help a Reading Girl out if possible?!

  27. Holly says:

    Such amazing tips, I always struggle to find new books to read and just end up reading the same ones over and over again! I can’t wait to start a list of new exciting books, 2018 is definitely going to be my year of reading!!

    Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo

    • Tracy says:

      Patricia, a book in translation is one that was originally written in another language and is now available in English. I love Scandinavian crime fiction so usually I look to those authors first to see what’s been translated. But there’s plenty across genres to choose from. Hope this helps.

  28. Natalie Hogue says:

    I really loved the 2017 Challenge with the Fun and Growth Categories. My reading became more intentional as I tried to find books in all categories. Several books were in a genre I normally would not have chosen and they were really great! I am in the last 100 pages of the 24th book and looking forward to reading intentionally again in 2018!

  29. Melody Moxley says:

    Great ideas!
    I recommend LibraryThing, a site which offers an easy to use database for recording books read. It is flexible, allows several different sorting options, and is free until you reach 200 books; to continue at that point, it’s $20 to continue (a one time charge).
    Has given me the form and incentive to religiously keep a log for over 2 years.

    • Anne says:

      Nope, this is the complete challenge list. Although if you’d like a personal challenge I’d suggest making your goal be to read five AMAZING books this year. 🙂

  30. Pingback: Goals for 2018
  31. Wanda says:

    I’m excited about this. I love to read but must admit I read voraciously and indiscriminately. Looking forward to using the topics and recommended books.

  32. Pingback: 18 Things in 2018
    • Anne says:

      If you’d like, you can choose the shelf that contains something approximating the right number of books for you, and color in one spine each time you finish a book. (On instagram, I’ve also seen people printing the pages and framing them for their reading spaces, just because they’re pretty.)

  33. Suzanne says:

    Will you be setting up a 2018 Reading Challenge Pinterest Board? It was wonderful to get and to share so many great recommendations the last couple of years through that method. Thanks so much!

  34. Prachi says:

    I’m so excited I discovered your blog! Loving it and very excited about the reading challenge! I love your categories too?I’ve already stated my own goodreads reading challenge for the year but I’m probably going to try and sync up both now. Thanks Anne!

  35. kari says:

    Finished! 1) Classic meaning to read: The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton. 2) Book recommended by someone w/ good taste: Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline. 3) Book in translation: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson. 4) Book nominated for an award in 2018 – As Good As It Gets – Kristan Higgins. 5) Book of Poetry, play or essay collection – Mapping the World of Harry Potter. 6) Book read in a day: Animal Farm – George Orwell. 7) Book with more than 500 days – The Kitchen God’s Wife – Amy Tan. 8) Book by favorite author – On Second Thought – Kristan Higgins. 9) Book recommended by Librarian or Indie Bookseller – Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh. 10) Banned Book – Wild Swans – Jung Chang. 11) Memoir, biography or book of creative nonfiction: Wildflower – Drew Barrymore. 12) Book by author of different race, ethnicity or religion of self: The Fifth Avenue Artist’s Society – Joy Calloway

    • kari says:

      A couple of corrections. 4) Good Luck with That – Kristan Higgins. Don’t know where I got As Good As It Gets. And 12) It’s Joy Callaway, not Calloway.

  36. Dorene Schlecht says:

    Love your posts…my bookclub has used your reading challenge as our guide for this years book choices. It has worked great for us as there are 11 members, so have used all but one of your suggestions as a category. Are you going to have a similar idea/post for the coming year?
    Happy holidays and happy reading??I am reading Harry’s Trees right now.

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