Readers, I’m happy to present you with our seventh annual reading challenge. Many of you have been impatiently waiting for months to find out what we’re doing this year. This year’s challenge looks a little different, and for good reason. Let’s get to it.
What we do around here and why
We’re entering our eleventh (!!) year of helping readers get more out of their (reading) lives here on Modern Mrs Darcy, by sharing great books, seasonal reading guides, and tips and encouragement for the reading life.
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. And we care about reading well, because we believe when you get more out of your reading life, you get more out of life.
Reading is personal: we may be united by the love of great books, but the individual books we love and the reasons we love them vary wildly. We know that your reading life doesn’t look exactly like anyone else’s.
What’s new in 2021
I’ve long imagined how helpful it could be to provide readers a simple and straightforward way to personalize their challenge. We did this a little bit with our 2017 reading challenge, but I wanted to offer readers more options.
Then 2020 happened, and this feels like the right time to take the leap. Haven’t we all spent the year examining myriad aspects of our lives, reflecting on what works and what doesn’t? And even more than before, we’re turning to reading with wildly different purposes in mind.
Get your Reading Challenge kit now by signing up below.
Our new Reading Challenge starts with you
Our new challenge is largely inspired by the in-depth conversations I’ve had with 250+ readers on my podcast What Should I Read Next. Every week I use these questions as a starting point for bookish conversation:
- What do you want more of in your reading life?
- What do you want to be different in your reading life?
- What are you looking for in your reading life right now?
I’ve found these questions—and the subsequent conversations—to be enormously helpful. So the 2021 challenge begins with a call to reflect on what you want and need in your reading life for the year to come.
How the 2021 Reading Challenge works
This year’s reading challenge is a choose-your-own adventure. Your challenge is not to just check off a list of twelve reading prompts, but to create the reading life you want and need. With this year’s challenge, we’re giving you the tools to do just that.
In our 6-page Reading Challenge kit, we get you started with guided questions so you can quickly determine where you’d like to go this year. Then we walk you through a simple process to create your personalized list of twelve Reading Challenge prompts, tailor-made to your needs. (By “prompts,” we mean, e.g., “Read a book beloved by a good friend,” “Read a book that’s more than 500 pages,” etc.)
After completing our challenge worksheets, you’ll come away with a list of twelve prompts—and ultimately, twelve books to read—to complete your challenge.
Let’s take a quick look at the Reading Challenge process, with visuals.
Step 1: Set your intentions
We turn to books at different times, for different reasons. That’s why it’s so important to know—right now, as you dream about the reading year to come—what you want from your reading life.
That’s why we begin with a space to set your intentions. Check 1-3 options that capture what you want and need, or write in your own. Don’t overthink this! Go with your first instinct.
Step 2: Contemplate some actions.
We want to help you cultivate your reading life, not just your reading list. Choose a handful of reading-oriented endeavors to give that life a boost this year. Choose 3 mini-projects from our suggested options or write in your own. (Again, don’t overthink this! Go with your gut.)
These action-oriented tasks bring momentum and focus to your reading life, and, just like your reading list, they can be checked off as you complete them. (So satisfying!)
Step 3: Customize your reading challenge.
This year, the challenge is to create the reading life you want and need. Now that you’ve considered what you want and need, fill out our template to choose your own reading adventure for the year to come.
Choose a handful of intentions (we recommend 1-3) and pop them into the template. Do the same with your intended mini-projects. You want to keep these before you all year long, so our challenge page design lets you do just that.
We include step-by-step instructions in the challenge kit. As an example, take a look at my customized challenge page-in-progress below.
Our kit also includes these additional resources:
- A planning page for you to brainstorm your challenge possibilities. What kind of books—that is, which challenge prompts—will help you create the reading life you want this year? (As you can see below, I used this page to capture possible prompts and titles that can fulfill them.)
- A list of all the Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge prompts we’ve ever used, going back to 2015.
- And, for those who are so mentally fatigued right now that the idea of creating their own challenge is overwhelming—we get it. We’ve included six pre-loaded challenge options in our kit; choose the one that sounds right for you, whether that’s “Read for Comfort,” “Learn New Things,” “Don’t Overthink It,” or “Embrace the Backlist.”
What do I do when I finish my challenge?
Whoop and holler and let us know!
After that, it’s time to reassess and see how you’re feeling about your reading life. This challenge is flexible, timeless, and repeatable. If you finish your challenge mid-year, whether that means February or May or August, that’s great! Reassess—that is, go back and reset your intentions—and begin again. And tell us when you do!
Take your reading life into the new year!
Sign up now to get started. We’ll send your Reading Challenge kit immediately. After that you’ll get regular reading news and inspiration to help you meet your reading goals.
What happens next? First, check your inbox and get ready to start your challenge! Share the challenge on social with the hashtag #MMDchallenge and #readingchallenge. (Find me on twitter @annebogel, on Instagram @annebogel, and at Facebook.com/ModernMrsDarcy.) But most of all, enjoy the challenge of reading with purpose this year.
It’s so good to be among people who are reading, and I’m looking forward to reading with you all in the year to come.