The 2019 Reading Challenge

Devoted readers and aspiring readers: want to get more out of your reading life in 2019? We’ve got a challenge just for you, and a free reading challenge kit to help you see it through.

We’re entering our ninth (!!) year of helping readers get more out of their (reading) lives. Over the years, we’ve learned so much about why people are (or are not) happy with their reading lives, and how we can help them better enjoy the books they read. We’ve carefully constructed this challenge to help you get more out of your reading life in the year to come.

Step 1: Choose amazing books.

For many readers, this is easier said than done, because it’s not always easy to predict which titles you’ll ultimately deem amazing. That’s why our challenge focuses on categories that have had a phenomenal success rate for your fellow readers.

We’re focusing on ten categories that have helped thousands of readers enjoy best-of-the-year reading experiences. 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. We’ve chosen ten categories—for a total of 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.

This year’s Reading Challenge Kit includes brand-new printable planning worksheets, with a tool to help you take a snapshot of your reading life right now, which is going to be fun to look back on at year’s end. We’ve also included a checklist to track what you’ve read for the challenge. All are sized to go right in your reading journal.

Step 2. Track your reading.

You won’t believe the difference this makes in your reading life. The title and date read are sufficient, but you’re free to make your log as simple or complex as you’d like.

I track my books in my everyday 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.

Need inspiration?

  • Check out Episode 64 of What Should I Read Next: How 15 WSIRN listeners track their books. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.
  • I also highly recommend my class Book Journaling for Book Lovers, which we’re keeping on sale through the end of the month.

Let’s get started! Enter your email below to join the 2019 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.

Pin the challenge graphic for inspiration; share it with your fellow book-lovers on Instagram. We’ll revisit the challenge periodically here on the blog to share what we’re reading. This year we also created an Instagram story template for your to share snapshots of your reading life. You can find that in my highlights under “Story Templates” and “Challenge.”

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 #MMDchallenge and #MMDreading on Twitter and Instagram; 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 in 2019.


Leave A Comment
  1. My fourth year in the challenge. I read a lot and this always directs me a little aside from the paths where the earth shows through underfoot. I review the books on Goodreads and discuss them on my blog. Thanks for pulling this together!

  2. Cat says:

    This will be my third year doing the challenge, and I fully admit to stalking your blog/website the last several days in hopes that you would release it soon! The last two years, you’d released it on December 14th, so I had resigned myself to believing I would have to wait until Friday. But checked my email just now and was ECSTATIC to discover that you had shared it today!

    • Dawn says:

      I guess readers think alike…This is my third year participating and I also noticed the timing on last year’s challenge and have been checking the blog every morning too! Can’t wait for next year’s challenge!

  3. Pam says:

    Looking forward to incorporating this challenge into my 2019 reading plans. I’m using your printables this year, and it’s been very satisfying to colour in a square each day to represent at least an hour spent reading. Thanks to that, I think, I’ve had one of my best reading years ever, in terms of regular reading. I’ll surpass 100 books read this year, in the next week or so, for the first time I can remember. And a lot of good books, too, which is far more important than the quantity!

  4. Meredith Lynch says:

    This is an awesome challenge! Sorry for my cluelessness here, but what did you mean by “backlist of a favorite author”? A book recommended by them? Thanks MMD!!

  5. JOSEPH says:

    I’ll give this a shot for kicks. I am an avid reader, in 2018 so far I’ve managed to gobble up 221 books, along with 11 periodicals monthly. In Louisville, my library has reserved an entire shelf to me in order to accommodate my requests, and I get a kick out of that.
    I will use your challenge to take on books out of my comfort zone ans see if my appetite may further expand into additional genres.

  6. Tanya says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’ve been waiting on this list and am so excited. I’m reading my last book of the 2018 Challenge (the 500 page book) and am starting to make my new list.

  7. Erika says:

    SO excited! I am also on my last book for the 2018 challenge, the classic I had been meaning to read. Love this year’s printables. Looking forward to seeing what everyone chooses or the categories this year.

    Question: Is there a 2018 recap planned or a place where everyone does a 2018 recap? Thanks!

    • sarah says:

      I was wondering that myself. I’ve got a couple on the list I didn’t get to, so I guess I’ll roll those categories over if they don’t duplicate on the 2019 list. I have noticed since I started these challenges, I have much more satisfying reading, probably because I put a little more planning into what I pick up, even if I never do get to every box. Maybe 2019 is the year!

  8. Halie says:

    This past year (2018) was my first year to find all things Anne Bogel (blog, podcast, challenge, books, etc), and I jumped in with both feet. I’ve almost completed the 2018 challenge, and I’m very much looking forward to participating again in 2019! Love it!

  9. Mary Lindberg says:

    Thanks, MMD – let’s get started on 2019! Last year’s challenge turned into a family affair as all of us are readers. Your list for this year is going to be interesting, too. Thank you!
    I have been keeping a Book List since 2010 and it is so worth the effort. Since we read a lot of series, I have changed your 5, 6, 7 to… 5: A book we read in 2010, 6: A book from 2011, 7: A book from 2012.

  10. Morgan Terry-Stutler says:

    This will be my first year doing this challenge and I just wanted to clarify: should I be picking the books before the beginning of the year, or is this a check off as I go challenge. Thank you much xxx

  11. Charlsa Hamner says:

    I am excited to get started on 2019! I can’t decide whether to plan the books I will read for the challenge or let the books find me.

  12. Katie Covey says:

    I am SO excited to get the new Reading Challenge. You just made my day! 🙂 I am also reading my last title for the 2018 challenge, but that’s because I was procrastinating that one spot. I already have a plan for several of the books for next year’s challenge, and the positive is that many of them are already on my nightstand. Were you reading my mind? Or checking my book basket??
    Thanks for all you do to keep our reading lives from getting in a reading rut. I can’t wait to look for a book that was published before I was born and to find a new to me author. Life is good! Thank you!

  13. Erin VT says:

    I am looking forward to another year of great reading with these guidelines! Last year was my first year joining, and it not only opened my eyes to SO many different great books (my TBR list exploded) but it also became a framework for my kids’ summer reading challenge and allowed their reading experiences to expand too. Thank you!!!

  14. Sierra says:

    Thank you!
    Will there be a cute little calendar bookmark like last year? The promise of coloring in a square is surprisingly good motivation.

  15. Becky says:

    I feel a little nervous about this list. I think it is because I myself personally will have to define a couple (what IS a subject that Fascinates me???). I’m sure I’ll figure it out in the end

  16. Natania says:

    Thank you for posting and for enriching my reading life. I would also love details on the sweater you’re wearing in the featured pic! Thanks again!

  17. Melissa says:

    Thank you for making the Reading Challenge Kit available. It’s a fun way to add some (extra) excitement and encouragement to a new year of reading. My 2018 reading year was outstanding, thanks in part to some of Anne’s suggestions.

  18. Robyn says:

    Very excited about this. Question: Is there any way we can still get the printables of the bookmarks where you check off the date? This really encouraged me to read every day. Thank you.

  19. Carolina says:

    Thanks! I really enjyed this challenge….made me stretch my reading “muscles”
    Looking forward to next years challenge and reading books I would have never read.

  20. This will be my first time with the challenge, but I’ve read so many more books this year, thanks to the podcast, and I look forward to upping my numbers and expanding the scope of what I read. Thank you!

  21. Love, love, love it, Anne!! I think this is the best one yet! Can’t wait to get started (just as I finish this year’s challenge…) Definitely agree about tracking your reading: I tracked mine in my bullet journal for the first time this year, and I definitely read more because of it — but not only that, I found I was reading more intentionally.
    Happy almost-2019!!

  22. i just found this blog & what should i read next podcast this year.Even tho i found the reading challenge rather late in the year I found that i had done 9 of the categories. Some with more than 1 title in them. Looking forward to starting next year’s list. We still have a dozen days left in the year. So i might still complete it!
    Where do you find books nominated for awards? Do goodreads awards count? Don’t new books from this year get awards next year?

  23. Caron Small says:

    The first item on the list – ‘a book you’ve been meaning to read’ – made me smile. I have loads of those on my shelves so it’s a question of which one do I pick? ?
    I use the reading challenge on Goodreads and with a little help from Audible have completed my challenge for this year which was 12 books. I have read more in print than I have listened to, but is using Audible allowed or do I have to actually read the books? I am a v slow reader!

  24. Kara Middleton says:

    This makes me so happy! I totally failed the 2018 challenge, so now I get to turn over a new leaf. I have been patiently waiting for this announcement.?

    • Caron Small says:

      Do you mean Goodreads or Audible, Kara? Goodreads is a website that is free to sign up to but can be a bit of a time sucker, says me who went on the site for one thing and was still on it ages later! There is also an app and I get a daily email from them with different book suggestions. The website is:
      Audible is a monthly subscription service through Amazon. I get 1 credit each month to use for an audio book and there are hundreds to choose from, including new books. Again there’s an app so I don’t have to go through Amazon every time I want to listen and I don’t think the credits expire either which is handy. There are other audio book services available so you might want to shop around. However I find it a lovely way to hear favourite authors and discover new ones! Hope that helps!

      • Kara says:

        Hi Caron, thanks. I don’t think my comment posted in the correct place. I was asking where I could get the link to the document from last year where you can color in and label the books you read as you go. I do use Goodreads, the website and the app, as well as Audible. Happy Holidays!

        • Caron Small says:

          Am sorry, Kara – think I got the wrong end of the stick!
          I have just been on Goodreads looking for something else and have ended up adding a book to my Want to Read list as well! ? How did that happen?
          Hope you have a good book or two for the holidays!

  25. Lezley says:

    I completely failed to finish any books this year and it broke my heart. Bad bouts of depression (plus premenopause mood swing brain!) meant I could not manage much reading, my favourite thing. I have read, just short stories online. 2019 I will follow the challenge, easy and great areas and I have plenty of books on my bookshelf to choose from already! I also won’t delete MMD emails without reading them because I felt guilty not reading!

    • Caron Small says:

      Don’t be too hard on yourself Lesley; if reading short stories online was what you could manage then that’s okay and where you are just now. I had a bad period of depression and I could only manage to read a couple of pages at a time, that’s if I did any reading at all because I found it almost impossible to concentrate for long periods of time. I had to accept that if a page was all I could manage then so be it, but at least I was still reading something. I was also reading favourite easy reading books or children’s books cos I knew I wouldn’t have to think too hard! Read what you can when you can and celebrate when you manage to finish something, even if it’s a short story or magazine article!! Take care.

  26. Rachel says:

    I just signed up for the email, but I didn’t get a link to the Reading Challenge kit. Instead, I got a link to the reading journal – which looks nice, but I’m hoping to the the Reading Challenge.

  27. Ginger says:

    Hi, Deb – Could you let me know what your error is saying? I’d love to help get you on the email list. Feel free to email me at support [at] modernmrsdarcy [dot] com and we’ll get you sorted directly.

  28. I’m glad that for 2019 you added in a non-fiction one (besides a bio/ memoir which often read similar to fiction. I tend to read a lot of non fiction about topics i like or topics i find interesting by browsing the non- fiction and the new book sections of my library. Am checking my to-read pile to see if i can add something from it to finish off this year’s challenge.

    • Caron Small says:

      In the Readers’ Awards 2018 sponsored by National Book Tokens here in the UK, Gail Honeyman won the Readers’ Choice award for ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’. This award is voted for by readers rather than people in the publishing or bookselling world although the 7 other awards are decided by booksellers in the UK and Ireland. I might be a bit biased as I read ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ in the summer, but after almost giving up on it in the beginning, I really enjoyed it and am glad I stuck with it. I laughed, cried and shook my head at times and am recommending it to other people so I guess that’s a sign of a good book! If you enter 2018 Readers Awards into your favourite search engine then all the winners and those shortlisted should come up. Hope that helps, Karin!

  29. Barbara Hewitt says:

    I have followed your blog since you started, and enjoyed it very much. I’m in a book group that is wonderful. I would like to try your reading challenge for 2019.

  30. Krysten T says:

    What is a “backlist?” I’m new to the challenge and could use some help. I’d also love suggestions for a historical fiction book published before 1986. Thank you.

  31. Emilee says:

    I’ve been considering doing something different for my challenge this year (I usually just set a number), and had gotten as far as saying, “I’ll just read everything on the PBS Great American Reads list that I haven’t gotten to yet”…before panic set in that I will probably read fewer books rather than force myself through War and Peace. It was a relief to subsequently come across something manageable!

  32. Lori Sassali says:

    I just had the most fun planning what to read for the 2019 Reading Challenge! Thank you so much for these! I sifted through my Want To Read Shelf for ideas and am so excited to dig in! This really helped me focus and choose a couple stretch reads as well. I can hardly wait for January 1st!

  33. Mindi says:

    I’ve been a fan of Modern Mrs. Darcy for years, and do the challenge each year. This year I will also do the #theunreadshelfproject2019 and *try* to only read what I already own – and since so many books in my TBR pile are recommendations from Anne, I am going to fill every category on this challenge with something I have bought because of this website or the podcast.

  34. Susanne says:

    This will be my first year doing the reading challenge and I’m so excited! I got my mom, sister and friend on board too and we’re going to discuss our books each month.
    My only question is what is a book in translation? And where do I find a list of those?

    • Suzanne: a book in translation is a book that was written in another language and then translated to English. ie Le Petit Prince (french) is the little prince (english).I read ‘the perfect nanny’, which was written in French first and ‘Night’ by Elie Weisel, also first written in french.

  35. Anne: I came late to this 2018 reading challenge, but had already read many that i could fill in most of the list. One i didn’t have was ‘a librarian’s pick’ so i looked at my local library’s website and sure enough, there was one on their site. It is a non-fiction book called “You Can be happy no matter what”. It is just what i’ve needed both to understand my thoughts and moods better, but also to understand how to respond to my teen daughter’s many changing moods. Thank you so much for your ideas! PS> Love your blog also!

  36. Danielle says:

    I will be using the challenge to pick back up with Louise Penney books (3 by the same author). I missed getting one a few years ago, and would not restart til I made sure where I left off…

  37. Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says:

    Well I just found a new way (easy for the lazy one), as I read 95% of my books on my Kindle I will just start a new collection with the name 2019. Then I just can transfer into my reading journal at a later time. I also would like more biographies, but there are so many ones that are just name rambling and others like Michael Caines that are so inspiring, ( the later a gem). A question how do you manage to get the challenge on a good paper size. Do you buy a special paper or what? Lol
    But the 18 is still there, some books left for this year or?

  38. Becky Price says:

    I’m so looking forward to the 2019 challenge, but when I put in my email address, I get the printable journal, which is awesome, too.
    Do I need to do anything different?

  39. Heather says:

    What would you consider to be a “backlist” book for Michael Crichton? 🙂 Sphere, Congo, Next, Micro? Another one I don’t have/don’t know about?

    • Charlsa says:

      Hi Heather:

      A backlist book is any book other than that author’s most recently published book. I believe all of the books you listed are backlist books as Crichton’s most recently published book seems to be Dragon Teeth which was published in 2017. All the books you listed were pubished before Dragon Teeth.

      Hope that helps!

  40. Ashley Z. says:

    I really want to do the challenge this year so I entered my email address and hit submit, but I come up with an error message every time. Any idea what I am doing wrong? I am using the internet browser from my phone.

  41. Based upon the number of comments, everyone is quite excited! I have always watched from afar, but I will make the time to join this year! I truly appreciate the work it takes to put this together. Thank you! For those of you that are not yet listening to Anne’s podcast, What Should I Read Next? – You will find so many great book ideas along with some fascinating people. Don’t miss it!

  42. Kimberly says:

    Starting late, but hey … better late than never! Looking forward as one of my resolutions — read more, record what I read and venture outside my comfort zone. Thanks!

  43. Dani says:

    I’ve never done this challenge before and sometimes my English is not as well to know what everything means so, what exactly does “a book in translation” mean? I mean, I know what translation means but what sort of books are supposed to be in this category? Books that are translated into another language or…?

    • Sarah M Schneider says:

      That’s it exactly. A book that was written in one language and has been translated into the language you are reading. For me, it means reading an English translation, but it sounds like you have the option of reading books originally written in English and translated into another language, too, so a broad field.

  44. Maureen Rekrut says:

    Hi there – starting late but better than not starting at all. What is the group consensus on a book meeting more than one category’s criteria? I am thinking about reading Swann’s Way (Rememberance of Things Past) as a book I’ve been meaning to read, and it meets the book in translation criteria and the book published before I was born. I feel like that’s not cheating, particularly since it’s 600 pages. But wanted to get everyone’s feel if it violates the spirit of the challenge….

    • Jennifer says:

      Last year was my first time participating in a MMR reading challenge, so I certainly can’t speak for the community here. But as someone who tried (and failed) to make it through “Crime and Punishment” two years ago, I say if you finish a 600 page book, you get to count it however you want! 😉 Best of luck with your reading list this year!

  45. Tanya says:

    I’m very proud of myself and wanted to share. I just finished my “outside your comfort zone book”. It was Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I am most definitely a fiction fan, so this was a giant stretch, but I made it. Won’t say I understood it, but you can’t have everything.

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