The queries started rolling in six weeks ago, maybe longer: When will you publish this year’s reading challenge?
Friends, I’m glad you’re excited. I love that you turn to us to plan your reading year. But let me tell you: you don’t need another challenge. Not in your life, and definitely not in your reading life.
Hear me out.
This year—these years—have been challenging enough. We all know the usual suspects, the ones that have made life these days grueling for so many of us: family strife and political strife, supply chain issues and a bumpy job market, juggling working or schooling from home (or suddenly working and schooling from home), omnipresent health concerns.
The stresses of life are seeping into your reading life. You’re tired, you’re overwhelmed, and the thing that ought to be your pressure release is causing you angst. Maybe for the first time ever.
I know this because you’ve told me, over and over. We’ve heard from so many of you (in blog and Instagram comments, our reader survey, from our Book Club members, from What Should I Read Next guests and potential guests) that your reading life is stressing you out.
Some of you completed three reading challenges last year, and instead of feeling that zing of accomplishment, feel worn out. Some of you feel you’re constantly hustling to finish another library book before it comes due. Some of you have ARCs you need to read and review, and instead of feeling like a privilege, it feels like unwelcome work. Some of you are in too many book clubs, constantly reading out of obligation and never by whim. Some of you—we hear this so often—feel compelled to read the book “everyone” is talking about on #Bookstagram, before the moment is gone.
I never want to make your reading life feel like a burden, and that’s why we’re not doing a reading challenge for 2022. Right now, you don’t need another challenge.
Inspiration, encouragement, a fun bookish project? YES. But a challenge? Not this year.
This is a departure for us. We’ve been offering readers a Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge since 2015. (Believe it or not, such challenges were rare back then!) Early on, I included some silly prompts like “read a book with a blue color,” but as I learned more about how to help readers build vibrant reading lives, it evolved into a fun and genuinely useful tool, one that gave your reading life direction and stretched you beyond your familiar genres.
In 2022, I want to help you discover (and perhaps rediscover) joy and ease in your reading life, to uncover that feeling of abundance and not overwhelm.
I hope this is freeing for you—that you can read what and when you want, that you don’t put so much pressure on yourself. That, this year, you once again read because you enjoy it.
So read from the backlist, tick off some titles on your To Be Read list, embrace bookish serendipity.
Read because you love it. (Or, if you’re REALLY tired, read—in order to remember why you love it.)
I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: 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.
It’s worth doing, and it’s worth doing well.
Now: I imagine some of you are panicking, thinking ANNE, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME, I CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT A CHALLENGE.
I assure you, we won’t leave you hanging. In the coming months, you’ll notice this consistent posture of joy and ease across the blog, Book Club, and What Should I Read Next. We’ll supply you with great stuff to read. We’ll share ideas for appealing bookish projects. We’ll offer guidance for your reading life, just as we’ve always done.
We also will continue to make our evergreen My Reading (Life) Challenge available, which includes worksheets, checklists, and all the prompts you need to build your own challenge if you insist that’s what you need for 2022.
I’m glad you’re here, friends. It’s so good to be among people who are reading, and I’m looking forward to reading with you in the year to come.