You don’t need another challenge

You don’t need another challenge

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.

Anne

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209 comments | Comment

209 comments

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  1. Hilary says:

    woohoo! I did reading challenges for a few years in a row b/c it motivated me to read more… but not necessarily what I wanted to read. So this year I opted out of all reading challenges and it’s been great.
    I hope you feel a little lighter too with this decision.

    • Karen L. says:

      Yay! Book challenges are fun, but they overwhelm me. Believe it or not, there are a few book challenges from 2019 I haven’t finished yet.

  2. Jessica says:

    Oh I am a bit sad. I had been so excited to hear about the new challenge for the new year. But as you said, I can still use last year’s worksheets/prompts to create something fun for 2022. The challenge was never a stressor for me, rather a way to stretch myself a bit in my reading. Thank you for all the resources and encouragement you provide to all of us!

    • Amanda says:

      Me too. I found the challenges really inspiring, and I loved picking out books to meet them. I even already made a page in my reading journal for the 2022 MMD Challenge!

    • Karina says:

      Me too! I was looking forward to a reading “challenge”. I don’t think challenge is the right word though; just a fun way to mix it up in this coming year

    • Carolyn says:

      I’m with you! The challenge has opened me up to new genres (Song of Achilles! What a transformation in my reading life!)…I’ve discovered writers I’ve long ‘tabled’ (hello to Louise Erdrich. finally!)…and this year, I challenged myself to be a better steward of my library holds account.

      I’m not a competitive reader, so I’ll make another reading challenge for myself based on the packet from last year. I’m glad we have that, because we can easily tailor it year after year. (I’d already been scheming!) And I’ll bet there are lots of us, so maybe we can follow along with each other?!

      • Terri says:

        I’m also a lover of the challenge and how it pushes me to read things outside my comfort zone. I love finding books to fit the prompts. I usually try to match the current books I own but haven’t read to the prompts to help give me the extra push to pick up and READ the books I own.
        That being said, I loved last year’s choose your own challenge from MMD and can easily do that again. Thanks Anne for all the fun things you bring to our reading lives!

  3. Kate says:

    Once again you hit the nail on the head and this is why I love this blog! Thanks for all the amazing recommendations and uplifting posts time and time again!

  4. Christine says:

    This suits my mood! I was already thinking that my reading goal for 2022 might be to read the stuff I think will be great right away instead of hoarding it for later, so I’m going for more spontaneity!

    • Donna says:

      I avoided all reading challenges in 2021 and had my best reading year ever! I just picked up what made me happy and ignored other stuff and pressure! I also read what I wanted…not what I thought I should be reading! I’m even giving myself permission to opt out of a book club read if I don’t feel like it!

  5. Debra Benton says:

    I appreciate how well you know us, your reading community. You and your team are wonderful mentors and guides through our reading challenges and joys. Just keeping up with our monthly reading lists and flights is enough for me. Thank you.

  6. Tess says:

    You are a wise woman, Anne. As someone who always reads at whim and chooses what to read next by pure happenstance, I can only say, “I second the motion”! Reading should not be another chore on our never dwindling, always growing lists of things to do. Unless you’re getting paid to do it, why make reading work?

  7. Rachel E says:

    This is such a gift. Not just the absence of the challenge, but modeling of why and that there’s no shame or guilt or terrible thing attached to it. That we can just decide “not this year” and that’s okay.
    I know so many people in my circle are suffering and continue to do so and my reading life has been completely disrupted by taking care of people I love. It’s a wonderful thing to realize the books will always be there. They won’t disappear or run out.
    Thank you for this, for the space it creates and once again modeling what it looks like to love reading, not just do it out of obligation.

    • Deb says:

      Oh Rachel, thank you, you’ve said it so well. I feel so understood and held and protected by this gift of permission to just slow down and read the huge pile of books I already own and haven’t gotten to because it’s been THAT Kind of a Year (2?!). Or to go ahead and not read if that’s what I need to do.
      Modeling healthy behavior is a wonderful trait in a leader and Anne has become more than just a reading coach in my life! Bravo!
      And, of course, if you are the kind of person who needs or desires a challenge there are lists and suggestions galore available in the archives.
      Be well and healthy everyone. Thank you Rachel for your well crafted message.

  8. Shannon Veski says:

    This post made me cry – it’s exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you for this gift … I’m looking forward to reading some of what you recommend simply for the joy of it in 2022!!

    • Susan says:

      I actually started crying as well! This post really nailed it, what I need in my reading life is less self imposed pressure. I had already decided not to do any sort of formal challenge next year but to hear the reasons spelled out here just hit the mark. I have also decided to use my public library less and choose from my own shelves more often. I was also inspired by the WSIRN podcast this week where the guest said reading a book when you buy it is the best tine to read it because that is when you are most excited about it.

    • Erika C says:

      Me as well. I think sometimes we all need someone to tell us that it’s ok to be tired and to let go of some of these self-chosen obligations.

    • Barbara Robidoux says:

      Yes, I have tears in my eyes right now, too. Thank you, Anne. Your message was perfectly timed. Thank you for all you do to encourage us to read and to keep us abreast of the newest and best books. We all think you’re the BEST.

  9. Jennifer Geisler says:

    Thank you so much for understanding.
    I’ve now added a 50 page limit on any book I don’t REALLY enjoy reading. If by that page I don’t really care what happens to the characters, back to the library it goes!

    Just finished The Other Mother by Matthew Dicks. What a marvelous book. In this time of emotional and mental challenges for children of all ages, a book that brings to life one child’s success in finding adults to share problems with is worth its weight in gold.

  10. Meagan says:

    Love this decision that you’ve clearly made so compassionately and that you are doing so as a result of reading the room (pun not intended but welcome nonetheless, ha). 2022 is the first year that I am considering letting go of using a paper agenda because I want a year of ease and serendipity and settling into the spaces of my life in a way that feels organic instead of molded to fit arbitrary goals I set for myself. Plus, I am expecting my first child in March and I do not want to kid myself that anything more than survival and enjoyment is what I should be in pursuit of. This will be the first time since HIGH SCHOOL that I don’t use a planner… a whole 22 years. It feels huge to make this decision in a way because it’s the pause of a ritual I used to look forward to but this time, I am looking forward to the change in mindset that it will bring!

    • Anne says:

      Meagan, bookish puns are always welcome here. 🙂

      Wishing you much ease and serendipity in the year to come—and new happiness with your coming bundle of joy!

  11. Kimberly Hentrup says:

    My reading challenge for 2022 is to read the MANY books already lining my bookshelves (to make room for more from the library book sales! ) and on my Goodreads TBR pile.

  12. Susan H. says:

    If folks really push back and insist on a challenge, may I suggest:
    –Abandon at least 2 books when you find they just aren’t your cup of tea
    –Read a book that seems simply too silly/too simple for your normal selection process
    –Read one new picture book (children’s)
    –Read one children’s chapter book (new, or revisted, for example, “Ramona Quimby”)
    –Read a book from a genre you have never before read (sci fi, romance, sports, biography, graphic novel, etc). Abandon the book if you find it meets your lowest expectations (you might be surprised).
    –Read a cookbook without any expectations of making something from its recipes.
    –Read a chapter or two from a book aloud to one of your pets.

    Each of these challenges have maintained the sheer joy I find in reading when I’m going through stressful times.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you! I’m in the camp of people who were really looking forward to a reading challenge for 2022…..But in the last few days, I’ve considered making my own challenge – a first for me – because I’m not really looking for an actual CHALLENGE, I’m looking for a list to check off. Something to make me feel productive and like I’m making forward progress. Your prompts are exactly the sort of thing I want to add to my reading “challenge” for 2022. Great ideas! Thank you!!!

    • Sydney says:

      One of my goals for 2021 was to read 21 picture books. I am a 30 year old woman who is childfree by choice, but I LOVE the illustrations and beautiful yet simple stories of picture books. It was a delight! Love this “challenge” you’ve suggested 🙂

      • Dee says:

        A good picture book is fulfilling for the adult reader. Try Owl Moon if you enjoy the outdoors.
        This summer I visited Sequoia National Park and I kept “seeing” the text and pictures from Cactus Hotel.

      • Nicole says:

        Picture books are delightful at any age. What a wonderful “challenge.” Wordless picture books are incredible and there are so many. I think I may use this as a category for my own challenge.

  13. Brianne B. says:

    Thank you for truly thinking about what your audience needs and choosing that. I have stopped doing challenges because I realized I was reading a lot of books I didn’t really care about. I’ve also felt the pressure (entirely put on myself, I don’t even have a bookstagram account) to read the newest, hottest books that come out but this year I tried to ask myself what makes me happy and what actually sounds good to ME and it’s helped me to read more books I’ve loved instead of just liked. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in this post and look forward to another great reading year!

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Yes! Thank you! I had already decided that 2022 I was going back to my pre-reading challenge ways of reading by whim. The year I had my highest reading numbers, no challenge was involve. I just read from book to book of what I WANTED to read next, and I loved every second I spent with those books. Once I get into the ‘I have to read this because of a challenge category’ mode, I almost always lose interest; it feels like work, not pleasure. So, I am so glad to see this change for next year. I am currently diving head first into the Wheel of Time series after years of cajoling from my husband (a favorite series of his), and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in that world for however many months it takes me to read them. I also plan to throw in some books from my own TBR list to break it up. Thanks Anne for encouraging us to return to bookish serendipity!

    • Rachel says:

      I also just got back into the Wheel of Time series and am very excited about it 🙂 I switched to listening to them as audiobooks and feel like I may actually be able to finally finish the series next year after taking 20 years to very sporadically read the first 8 books.

  15. Lynette Mooney says:

    Thank You Anne … you know me so well! I hope this decision has lightened your load. I look forward to reading your blog and podcast!

  16. Carole says:

    I could almost cry reading this!! I have felt emotionally crushed under the challenges of the past couple of years, and I also have noticed the stress of that creeping into the activities that used to provide me an escape from the stresses of life. Thank you so much for this…..for the reprieve from another challenge, and for perfectly articulating my own thoughts and feelings in your post.

  17. Heather says:

    Thanks, Anne. Thanks for encouraging me to keep reading without putting obstacles in my path. Because right now, even a reading challenge is like having another mountain to climb. Thanks for reminding me that I read for joy and pleasure, and that I don’t have to whip myself to get another title crossed off.

  18. Bethany says:

    I read 78 books last year, FAR outpacing any other year of my adult life. I read constantly because I have never needed to escape from real life and my own brain so badly. And then this year… I’ve hardly read at all. That feeling of exhaustion after an adrenaline surge? My brain was like that, completely exhausted from being wound so tightly it felt like it might break itself apart, for an entire year. And it’s been hard for me to accept that that’s okay. That rest, and only reading when I feel like it, and not meeting an arbitrary reading goal I placed on myself, is okay. Thank you for choosing this path this year, for all of us with tired minds and souls.

  19. Jennifer L says:

    Thank you!!!! I usually relish your reading challenges, and my reading life has grown over the years as a result; however, I truly struggled this year, and honestly, I ended up giving up because it was “one more thing” on my already too heavy plate. This is liberating, and I hope that we can all find our joy and love of reading again because a well-written series of words is still truly a gift for the taking.

  20. Patty Gonzica says:

    I definitely need to read the books that I have collected this past year, my goal is to read what I decide for at least the first 3 month of 2022. Hoping I stick to my goal and be ok not to to be reading what everyone else is reading!

  21. Ann says:

    Phew!! Thank you.
    I’m currently reading Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone & at 888 pages it is blocking all my other reading till the end of the year.
    I had set a goal of 50 books for myself on Goodreads & this book will complete that goal.
    Do I need a Challenge? That is a really good question. The thought of going back and revisiting books I missed over the year/or years for that matter, is a refreshing thought.
    I am also struggling with whether or not to keep my BOTM subscription. I enjoy it, but it makes me feel guilty. So is the guilt worth it, when the bulk of my reading can be satisfied for FREE from my local library? Thoughts??
    Thanks for this liberating way to start the New Year ❤️

    • Elly says:

      One thing that has helped me immensely in making the decision to stop doing something I hypothetically would love (if it weren’t for real life factors x, y, and z) is my husband’s simple insistence : If it really is meant to be, you can always start it again later. That class at the Y. That subscription. That book challenge. That book that you think you might enjoy in another headspace but is bogging you down right now: you can always start it again later. I hope you find that freeing, whether you keep your subscription or out it down for now.

  22. Dee says:

    I’ve tried and abandoned the challenge twice. Two years ago I came up with my own challenge – just a list of books I intentionally wanted to pursue and read about half of them – a win to me! Last year I did the same, but I think I’ve read few of them. Oh, well. You are 100% correct, Anne! I do not need another challenge!!

  23. Karen says:

    Thank you for this Anne. You spoke to my heart this morning. 🙂 I was already thinking about writing a post on my blog about my reading experience this year to share some things on my heart. Your post was encouraging. It really spoke to what I was thinking. 🙂

  24. Eileen says:

    Thank you for helping people to ease up a bit on “goals.” I put the word in quotes because it means so many things to people. In my life, I use the words “intentions,” or “aspirations.” Softer. Gentler. Honestly, I backed away from the podcast and the blog comments for a while, feeling a bit put off by people declaring that they “needed to read more.” I love reading and always have. I need to incentive to read. Yes, I’m lucky. I’ve never struggled in finding good books. Friends offer recommendations, if I need them. And there’s my indie bookstore, reviewers whom I trust, authors to whom I return year after year.
    And I love the practice of pausing, taking a break, refreshing oneself. It offers time to return to what we love, explore something new, listen to our hearts’ desires.

  25. Stephanie says:

    Well, this is disappointing! I skipped last year’s do-it-yourself version bc I just want to pick from a list…not also have to make the list myself. I hope you bring this back in its traditional form next year, even if it has “silly” prompts like read a blue book!

  26. Stephanie Mackey says:

    I am on board with no challenge for next year. This year I did an alphabet challenge, a rainbow challenge, and an 8 book cover challenge. It got to be that I was choosing books to fit the challenge and not because I wanted to read them. Then Ginger reminded us in a recent MMD video that her reading goals serve her, not the other way around. I gave myself permission to read the Christmas books I was excited for right now and permission to finish off those last few challenge books in the new year. I’m feeling better already. 🙂

  27. Gina K says:

    Great plan, Anne! I’m finishing the year reading all the romances I want instead of using them as filler between obligatory books. I saved Susan H’s list because it is funny and maybe something I will do. Thanks to all of you for making reading joyful!

  28. Emily Alexander says:

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! Could you maybe get the rest of the publishing world on the same page? I have such a long TBR and so many beloved books, this gives me validation to go back to it. I also really want to tick off more of the Rory Gilmore booklist, but so many new bestsellers get me off track. I did love the Reading Life challenge and the books it brought to my life based on my own writing project — The Yellow House, Rust, and Inheritance being the top three. I’m going to do it again this year and see what other aspects of the writing project I can bring out and read about. As always, MMD is rocking and rolling.

  29. Caroline says:

    I start challenges and never finish them. It gives me a sense of control and allows me to feel like a free-wheeling rebel. 😀

    Thank you for the “consistent posture of joy and ease.” I’ve decided that I want more joy in my reading life this year. All the joy and far fewer murders.

  30. Sheryl Esau says:

    I see this is helpful for so many, so definitely a good decision. I absolutely love the challenges and for me, it makes reading more fun. I love the planning of the books almost as much as reading them. But there’s plenty of book challenges out there if you’re looking for one. Our local newspaper, library and public radio station team up to do one that I enjoy immensely each year.

    • Suzanne C says:

      I’ve always wondered about that! Why would we want any part of our reading life to be ‘hard’? It’s a part of life that’s supposed to be joyful and restorative. Unbelievable how the internet can even make reading competitive.

  31. Kim says:

    I love reading challenges and I do quite a few of them, but they inspire me to read outside of my norm and I do not feel stressed or pressured by them. For those that are disappointed, never fear, there are still Lots of challenges out there for you to try if you want one. And I agree, if they stress you out, don’t do it!

    • Aimee says:

      Do you have any good ones to recommend?? Enneagram Type 8 here and super bummed there will be no 2022 reading challenge. I am not kidding when I say that it is the thing I most look forward to working on after Christmas – coming up with the books is my Christmas present to myself so I’m quite sad about this. 🙁

  32. Jessica says:

    Yes! I am missing that joy from my reading life lately. I still follow along with you but haven’t been reading much. Hoping to find my groove in 2022

  33. Erin Henry says:

    Bummer! I look forward to the challenge every year! It gives me motivation to go through my TBR list and read things I may not have otherwise. I can always fill the challenge from my TBR list because it’s ridiculously large. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the challenge to start filling it in.

  34. Mhari says:

    I’ve been doing the 50 Books challenge since 2008 (first on Shelfari, then on Goodreads), because that was the year my son was born and without that little bit of accountability, I could go months without reading anything. I keep at it now that he’s mostly independent because my timekeeping remains atrocious. But after two particularly barren years, when I barely made it over the line thanks to short reads from giveaways, I’m giving it all a big shake. Next year will be all about classic urban fantasy (Charles de Lint & Friends, all the way back to the ’80s), to remember that I started reading that stuff because it fed my soul. Goodness knows my soul has been starving for a while.

  35. Suzy says:

    I have been following Whitney’s Unread Shelf challenge, but last year, for at least half of the challenges, I couldn’t even find a book on my shelf that fit! And it was frustrating. I had already decided not to do any reading challenges this year, just try to pick away at my TBR as I please. One thing I’m doing is buying way fewer books, or even taking free ones.

  36. Natalie says:

    Anne, you are always so wise! This year I’ll have read 100 books, and I feel exhausted rather than exhilirated. I’ve definitely read too much and not enjoyed it enough, and it’s aways been such a great escape for me. I’ve proved to myself that I CAN read that much, but next year I don’t WANT to read that much. Glad to know I am not alone!

    • Caroline says:

      I feel the same Natalie I’m close to 100 books but I’m exhausted and recently I’ve not been choosing to read so much! It’s way too much for one year I’d still like to read next year but I’d also like to do other things too!

  37. Vanessa says:

    This is so interesting to read as I had personally dropped my goal by 1/3 about a month ago for next year. But I do have a goal to read On the Origin of Species by Darwin next year, so that might be a stretch.

  38. Sue Duronio says:

    I ABSOLUTELY love everything about this post! Last year’s “challenge” really prompted me to tune in mindfully to what I want and need in my reading life and I was successful. It was such an intentional way to structure my reading but still leave time for bookish serendipity! I’m thrilled to just go off
    The ideas that worked for me last year and try a few new ones. Thank you MMD team!!

  39. Ruthie says:

    I like to keep the bar low in recreational matters, and I’ve never taken on the reading challenges, as I didn’t want to turn a pleasure into an obligation. But this year I had decided to look at it differently: instead of looking upon the list as offering reading GOALS — or ASPIRATIONS — I decided to use them as reading INSPIRATIONS to make the process of finding a good read easier and to add a create fillip to the book selection process. I started with the “book published in the decade in which you were born, and Googled “Books published in the 1960s,” which produced a list of books deemed to have defined the decade. I got wonderful ideas and reminders from that — books that I’ve long meant to pick up. (Several of them would satisfy multiple “inspirations” on the list if I later became goal-minded.) I plan to print off the evergreen list as a pool of Reading Inspirations, r/t a Reading Goals checklist… but now I feel as though I can do so COMPLETELY freed of the sense that I’ll be cheating somehow!

  40. Dana Qualls says:

    Honestly I am so grateful! I am just now beginning to be able to read again and enjoy it. This pandemic season sapped all the joy and even desire from my reading life. I have grieved like my best friend just died! So thank you for this respite from challenges. This book club is the best!

  41. Alana says:

    Create a ‘Don’t Read’ challenge.
    – reject one book that doesn’t live up to its cover
    – stop reading a book because you don’t like the characters
    – stop reading a book because you keep reading the same page over and over again
    – stop reading a book that EVERYONE likes, because it turns out you’re not everyone
    – stop reading a book that’s been on you’re TBR list because it turns out this isn’t the right time either
    – stop reading a book because you paid full price and feel you need to get your money’s worth
    – stop reading a book because you’ve had it on hold at the library and it’s finally come in
    – stop reading a book because someone gave it to you and/or is waiting to hear what you think

  42. Maria Ontiveros says:

    I get it, but I think I may be in a different position than some other followers. I’m not stressed by challenges, and they help me do more reading and reading that I enjoy and books that I wouldn’t otherwise read. I was hesitant about the build your own adventure last year, but it worked for me. So I’ll do that again this year. I’ll use some new categories, as well as some older ones that have worked for me in the past (3 by same author, book in translation , etc.)

  43. Kimberly says:

    I am so on board with this! I am beyond exhausted and hearing anyone tell me it’s ok and GOOD to slow down is such a relief. Anne, you gave me a little moment of therapy while reading this post!

  44. Beverly says:

    Anne I applaud you for listening to the posts and all of the growth you’ve had on this site. I remember your first blog! Yes I’ve followed you since then, quietly – just enjoying your podcast and blogs. Happy holidays and well done on such a lovely post today.

  45. Katie P says:

    Readers who are still looking for a traditional “challenge” this year, may I recommend PopSugar, Reading Women, or Book Riot’s Read Harder.

    Sometimes, I don’t do a reading challenge in a year (for example, in 2020 I took the year off from challenges and just mood-read all year) but sometimes I find them really helpful when I can’t decide what to read next (lol!). Starting books is always the hardest part for me and I get overwhelmed by my giant TBR shelf (I’m sure you’ve never heard this before:) ). So the “challenge” helped me pick my next book – instead of choosing among my 400 unread books, I just had to choose between my 6 books by a native author, or what have you.

    The structure helps me choose what to read, rather than forcing me to read more or differently than I would. I picked up the PopSugar challenge this summer when I felt like my reading was stagnating and it helped big time. This blog is fantastic for building my TBR, but the challenges help me choose from the TBR I’ve amassed and just dive into something:).

    That being said, seems like there’s a lot of support here for no challenge, so it sounds like that works for this community:).

    • Nancy says:

      I’m glad you posted. I do the three challenges you mention above every year. For years, I started out the year looking for books that would meet each challenge. Now, I use the challenges as a course correction every few months. I check my Goodreads list to see if I can check off any of the challenges. I’ve been delighted to find that the challenges of earlier years have led me to naturally cast a wider net in my reading life and stay out of my old reading ruts.

  46. Sue says:

    I have never participated in a reading challenge but I felt a small relaxing in my shoulders when I saw the byline that said there wouldn’t be one! Yes, that’s how bad it is these days! I’m struggling just to finish even a book I’ve been looking forward to. I’m so distracted all the time by ways to numb my anxiety mindlessly that my reading life has dwindled to a fraction of what it used to be and books are piled up everywhere. As if I have to have proof, yes, I’m still reading, just look at all these books! Ugh! Thanks for the non-challenge I never did anyway? I love it here for your perfectly moderated voice, reverence for good writing and of course many of your recommendations are in my piles! I will put down the phone and pick up my book!

    • Judith in Bethesda says:

      Hi Sue! An inspiring motto: “Put down the phone and pick up a book!”
      I will join you. Those “ways to numb my anxiety mindlessly” don’t really help, do they?

  47. Saskia says:

    I love simple challenges, so I will set my challenge on Goodreads. And I’ll be using ‘My reading life’ too. The challenge in the book journal is reading as many days a week as I can for at least half an hour. I use the tracker in ‘My reading life’. These past years have been challenging, but my reading challenge and my commitment to doing sports every day has helped me get through them. Can we have a ‘getting through the bleak midwinter’ guide instead of the challenge?

  48. Judith in Bethesda says:

    I can’t really comment directly about challenges, but for those who are creating their own I offer what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half: rereading old favorites from my bookshelves! Since I’m a “series” lover it’s included the Little House Books, the Earthsea books (and other U K LeGuin), Maisie Dobbs, N K Jemison (most of hers) Just books that not only do I love but that bring back good memories from the previous times I’ve read them.
    Reading is always about enjoyment, and lately nostalgia is very enjoyable for me.

  49. Nancy Andrews says:

    Thank you, Anne! Spot on…again. Such a lovely, thoughtful post. Sometimes it feels like you read my mind. I look forward to the joy and fun of being in MMD book club in 2022. My life is so enriched by Modern Mrs Darcy and What Should I Read Next. Virtual hugs to you and your team!

  50. Shari Ayers says:

    Alas, I figured this announcement was coming since December was nearing (and passing) the midpoint. I have always loved the reading challenges and have only ever read exactly what I wanted to read for them. They were simply a fun “puzzle” of sorts — looking for ways to find books I loved that fit the challenges. Although I will miss the community aspect of it, I’m not worried about my own reading life and I’m glad for others to get to experience this freedom and stress-reduction, even in the midst of my own disappointment. Here’s to a wonderful reading year for us all!

  51. AnnMarie says:

    Cried when I saw this. I was looking forward to a challenge. Guess I’m in the minority. Thanks for all you do to keep us excited about reading.

  52. Sandra Pointon says:

    Well said Anne. I have been put off by the competitive nature of reading lately and guests who brag about how many books they’ve read and in which categories. Reading is for pleasure not sport. Good on you for championing this approach.

  53. Terry Gianatasio says:

    Hooray! I am so impressed with your gift. No more challenges please. I LOVE to read but I want to read for joy. I won’t finish a book if it is not making me feel like I want to finish. I won’t read from certain celebrity book lists because I can’t take another family trauma. I want to read books that make me think, laugh, cry, hope, turn the page, that are sometimes mindless, and not too much of a soap opera. I want to read to relax, escape, float, feel calm or scared or thrilled or because I have to look up a few new words. I don’t want pressure to finish. I have a book going in the family room, office, bathroom (😜) and my car. I love being able to share what I am reading with my family and friends or not. No pressure sounds great for 2022 in my reading life!
    Thank you!

  54. Judy Holmes says:

    I have not participated in a challenge; however, I have read tons of books recommended by Anne & others. I usually am reading a fiction & nonfiction book at all times.
    But, I AM HAVING TROUBLE READING the past month or two! The only other time this has happened to me is when my mom died 18 years ago. I have great books to read but I just am not reading or I start reading & I put the book down within a page or two. I am struggling with the pandemic. Is anyone else going through a rough patch with their reading?

  55. I apparently have 460 books on my shelves all over my house waiting to be read. So that is my reading challenge for this year. Among the ARCS and the Book Club reads, my goal is to read 22 books off of my already busting to-read shelves. Let’s hope I can do it!

  56. Julia Reesor says:

    Thanks, Anne for bringing some wisdom to reading. I have been reading like a crazy woman this year and last year for all the reasons you mentioned – gotta read the book everyone’s talking about, gotta get it read before the book loan expires, gotta read the newest publications of my favourite authors, gotta read more books than last year, and so on. I’m at #160 books read already this year and I feel I need to make a New Year’s resolution about slowing down a bit and not being in a frenzy to read all that is on my list. I don’t love reading any less, I just need some balance in my life. 🙂

  57. Lisa F. says:

    I usually use Goodreads to challenge myself and managed to read over 40 books this year–which is far beyond the norm for me as a slow reader. But I almost feel tired of reading, because it has seemed so much like work or something that has to be done. I was reading certain books because it seemed like I was “supposed” to read them, as opposed to reading what I wanted to read or already loved. I lost track of how many I started and didn’t finish, which only added to the stress and subtracted more enjoyment.
    This post and the comments were wonderful to read, making me feel I’m not alone in my own reading struggles. It takes the enjoyment and relaxation out of it when you constantly feel pressured to read certain books or read “this” amount of books in a given time. I can’t wait for a fresh start with the new year and am looking forward to what’s to come from this wonderful community.

  58. Kitty Balay says:

    And now I’m crying! Anne you articulated exactly what I’m feeling. Overwhelm, stress, etc….I’ve read a lot of great books this year, but I’ve needed to let go of the FOMO. I needed some serious comfort reading over Thanksgiving and read 4 Jenny Colgan books in a row! (Scotland bookshop series) It was exactly what I needed. If I’d been following a challenge, I would never have given myself the time to do that. And I needed it!! Thank you for your great challenges in the past. Thank you for focusing on ease and joy now. That’s what my heart needs. Thank you for being a consistent, warm presence in my ears and on my screen. I always look forward to seeing you and Ginger as if we were friends in real life. Blessings to you both!

  59. Donna vallee says:

    2021 has been the best reading year for me in quite a long while. I like challenges, they open new books that I might otherwise not read. For instance, I would not of picked up The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, which was very good.

  60. Diane Heckel says:

    I have never understood the point of ‘challenges’ for reading. I follow my interests. I will read a book because the subject looks interesting, or because it is a ‘classic’ that I never got around to reading. My Daughter-in-law is from Finland, so I have read a number of fiction and non-fiction books about/from Finland, which led to books about the far north, Russia and Finland during WWII, global warming, and education in different countries. I’m getting older–I don’t want to waste my time on trivial things or things in which I have no interest. A book on illuminated manuscripts leads me to Margery Kempe, of whom I had heard but knew nothing about. Challenges sound too much like school requirements.

  61. Astrid says:

    So happy to read this. I see why a reading challenge might be fun, but for me it completely sucks the joy out of reading. I read because I love it, it’s relaxing, fun, I learn things. I also try to listen to what I am in the mood for, not what I should read or what hold comes in. And that pleasure cannot be measured in the number of books read or what themes (although, I do count my number of books read ;-))

  62. Annie B McCloskey says:

    Lovely, lovely post, Anne. I, too, like so many others, am planning to “read my shelves”. I am looking forward to starting to use your beautiful reading journal on January 1st. (Yes, I am an enneagram one!)

  63. Meg Dreifuss says:

    Anne (& Team),
    Thank you for saying out loud what it seems we are refusing to admit. In our effort to “hold it together” or “make it as normal as possible”, we are wearing ourselves ragged. Thank you for relieving the unspoken pressure!

  64. Diane says:

    Yes! I need more space in my reading life to do what I want. Here’s what I’ve come up with for myself in 2022.

    l.). Read more books off my own shelves

    2.) Read The Count of Monte Cristo as my Big Book Classic of the year

    3.) Read more free ebooks from the Library and other sources

    4.). Stay Away from most new releases

    • Leanne says:

      I love this! I’m going to make my own challenge this year and keep all your points in mind, especially the one about new releases – most have been disappointing lately.

      • Zoey says:

        I have a lot of unread books at home, but I’ve only been reading the ebooks I borrowed from the library. My goal for next year is to read less ebooks and read more books from my bookshelves.

  65. Sandy says:

    I read a LOT of books last year, and don’t need a challenge to keep doing what I’m doing.
    But,
    – I resolve to read books that I’ve already bought and are on the shelves;
    – I resolve to read more biographies;
    – I resolve to read “Little Dorrit.”

  66. Sara Bell says:

    *Applause*
    I had already chosen my own reading challenge for the upcoming year: to read LESS. I read more books this year than I ever have in a single year. And it felt less fulfilling, overall. In 2022, I’ll be in a new city & I’ll start looking for a real-live book club to join (or start one myself!).
    Thanks, Anne, for affirmation of the need to scale back. Just for a while.

    • Beth Morris says:

      I am in a similar place! I read more books than I ever had this year, but quite a few were less than fulfilling. Next year I’m focusing on fewer books, more carefully chosen (while always allowing the freedom to indulge my mood!).

  67. Beth Morris says:

    My favorite part of this is reading all the comments. I can relate to the whole spectrum of what people are wanting from their reading life as someone mid-spectrum who craves both structure and spontaneity. This year I’ll read 50 books, up from about 20 5 years ago. While I’ve enjoyed tracking what I read and pushing myself to read more, I don’t ever want it to have too much of a hold on me. I’ve noticed this year I’ve reached for more books I know I can quickly check off my list, and fewer that would take a lot more time to get through, and may set me behind on “my goal.” Next year I want to let go of that competitiveness with myself and take time to sink into even just a few of those bigger, meatier books that take a lot more time to digest, but are worth it in their own way. May we all read more for the right reasons next year. Cheers to you all!

  68. Carrie says:

    I needed to read these words today. I’ve been struggling with my reading life and my inability to focus fully on the books I’m reading, and for the first time in my life have been putting books on my “to be continued” shelf more often than not. When I see how far I’ve fallen behind in my reading goal for 2021 it produces a twinge of guilt and pressure – and I definitely don’t need more of that in my life. Thank you for helping me remember that reading is something I love, and continue to love even when it’s challenging and the time to do it feels fleeting. I’m looking forward to reviving my relationship with reading in 2022.

  69. Danielle says:

    Just the other day I decided my goal this year was to read less, and instead allow myself to really focus on the books that I did pick. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  70. Regan says:

    Wow. I did not expect blog posts to make me emotional this morning, but here I am. Thank you so so much for this wonderful message! 🥰

  71. Catherine says:

    I set an intention for the new year to reread at least one book a month. I think about rereading favorites all the time, but the pull of all the new books on my TBR are strong. I’ve already selected my pile and I’m excited about this specific reading challenge.

  72. Aquagirl809 says:

    This is perfect for me. I read for the simple pure pleasure of savoring magnificent stories. I do not need motivation or a challenge. Thank you profusely, Anne!

  73. Colleen Bonilla says:

    Oh, Anne. This is one of the many reasons why I LOVE being a part of this book club. What appealed to me from the very beginning was your continual reminders to refrain from putting pressure on ourselves (so many books, so little time!), to keep our reading lives fun and enjoyable, and take great care to not turn it into a chore.
    This post could not have been better timed for my particular situation. Right now, my life is pure, unadulterated crazy. But, if all goes according to plan, I will be in a new home by mid-January 2022 and my husband and I will be officially retired (YAY!). I am SO looking forward to finally having the time to go back through all the previous years’ reading lists, challenges, book school videos, author chats…all the wonderful stuff I’ve had to race past in order to meet daily deadlines and expectations in every other area of my life. I have such fun plans for preparing my very own 2022 reading challenge. Can’t wait! I love what @DebraBenton said in her comment: “I appreciate how well you know us, your reading community. You and your team are wonderful mentors and guides through our reading challenges and joys.” My sentiments exactly. Thank you, Anne and MMD Team!

  74. Pam says:

    I am going to “challenge” myself to read 12 of my TBR books. I will place 12 titles from my bookshelf on scrapes of paper in a bag. Each month I will pick a title to read that month. It should be fun to read 12 of my long-forgotten titles.
    Good reading and health in 2022!

  75. Jonelle Warnock says:

    Thank you for seeing us out here. As an English teacher and former librarian, I know I put too much pressure on myself. But your thoughts gave me peace.

  76. Chrisitne says:

    Thank you for this lovely post, Anne. It’s something I needed to hear this year. I have done challenges for the last few years and it really got my reading going again after a long drier than usual spell (when I had lots of littles around) and it was fun and interesting. But as the years have gone by I’ve been less interested and have cut back. I love the idea of creating intentions and being thoughtful about my reading without putting so much pressure on myself and my reading life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this and for creating so many other wonderful reading and community opportunities for us all.

  77. Suzy says:

    This is perfect. Thanks, Anne, for reminding us that it’s okay to let go. I’m not finished with this year’s challenge, so I’m going to let the last 4 books on my list carry into 2022!

  78. alicia pool says:

    LOVE this…would love some bookish project inspiration! It is frustrating and baffling how any favorite hobby can turn into “I’m not as good or good enough…why bother?”. Thank you, Anne!

  79. Colleen says:

    I am disappointed. My first association with Modern Mrs. Darcy was through the Reading Challenge and it, out of everything offered, is what has kept me most engaged. It inspired me to expand my reading, to try new genres and to read classics I had put off. I think you missed the mark this time. I, for one, need the list. For me, it is “inspiration” not challenge, and it is not one I can recreate for myself. Yes, I can devise a list, but it will not create the excitement and inspiration I found from yours. While trying to satisfy those who feel worn out, I feel like you are shortchanging those who are excited and energized by the Reading Challenge. I understand that this may be a minority opinion, and I don’t mean to overly criticize but I am truly dismayed.

  80. Jess says:

    Thank you so much Anne! I am crying with joy right now. I don’t want to do a challenge when New Year starts. I don’t want to waste my life reading bad or guilty books either (like Detective Harry Hole novels). I will still have time to read books, but probably not many books in 2022. I have a question, when Anne Of Green Gables and Emily Of New Moon are my favorite book series, does that still make me a reader?

  81. Taylor says:

    I am in the group of people who loves that there won’t be a challenge next year. I noticed this year that although I read a lot of books I struggled to get them read and felt overwhelmed. Reading challenges or trying to keep up with what everyone else is currently reading while maxing out my library cards has made life more stressful the past few years instead having a relaxing moment. I was just thinking the other day how I want to give myself no pressure next year to read certain books or a certain amount and just go with the flow so this is perfect.

  82. Hannah says:

    I needed this. Thank you, Anne, for the permission to not have to always “follow tradition” and do the challenges as we always do. This was a rough year for my reading life and thinking about doing a challenge just doesn’t seem possible right now. I, of course, will keep reading. But it will be more reading of what I want and need at that moment. Not so much what I “should” be reading.

  83. Dotti says:

    I read for pleasure. I’m 73 and decided earlier this year if I’m not enjoying a book I’m reading, if it’s a struggle, it’s history. Whether I’m on page 3, 33, or 233. Life is short and I want to enjoy all the minutes I can. Hence, again, I read for pleasure. Anne, your booklists are helpful, thank you for all you and your staff do for the reading world.

  84. Paula says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. I actually have been going through my bookshelves and kindle and choosing books to read in 2022. I find myself reading a book and wanting to shelf it halfway through. Thanks for the validation and giving us space to breathe and enjoy.

  85. Debi says:

    Dear Anne,
    I have recently gone “on leave” from both of my book clubs. I’ve been in one for 28 years and the other for 20 years. All of the books we read are terrific, but it seems my entire reading life has become dominated by ‘group’ choices. I need to reestablish what sustains me in my personal reading life. I thank you for your thoughtful approach to the new year.

    • Aimee says:

      I have found I loathe book clubs which is why I loved the reading challenges. It gave parameters but all the freedom for me to choose for ME and no one else.

  86. Cara says:

    Thank you, thank you! This is exactly where I am. I had already decided not to join the challenge this year as I am feeling all the feelings you mentioned. I am overwhelmed by my TBR, rushing through library books, and dreading boxes of review books.But I would still put pressure on myself to keep up with a challenge had you posted one, even unconsciously. Very much looking forward to a year of simply *enjoying* my reading life now!

  87. Margaret says:

    I so appreciate and heartily endorse this message. Not because I’m personally exhausted by my reading, but because you’re not doing the expected thing and in that way, you’re exactly in sync with the times. Thank you!

  88. Gretchen says:

    Anne,
    You had me at “📚You don’t need another challenge”. Thank you.
    And, neither do you and your team!
    Here’s hoping that you and your family have a wonderful, peaceful holiday, including your “new” Christmas Eve tradition (which my kiddos and I are starting this year: thank you for the inspiration!).
    Thank you for giving us a “challenge” that we can check off right now. We can start 2022 by marking this one as complete. ✔️
    All the best,
    Gretchen

  89. Alex Daw says:

    Excellent decision. I always want to read more but, despite being retired, I have a very full life. I want to make sure that I keep reading as a priority but I hate feeling like a failure if I don’t get to read the 50 books a year I set myself as a goal. So well done you for writing this blog post and getting us to re-think our relationship with reading. Yes! Quality over quantity. And quality being not so much the books we read but HOW we read them. Not worrying so much about how many we’ve read but that we’ve read them with our full attention and less guilt for reading them when we do.

  90. Christy says:

    Oh my word! Yes! I feel like I’ve been rushing through books trying to hit some number or reading an “it” book. I love the idea of slowing down and just enjoy being in the moment of the book I’m reading. Thank you!

  91. Ashley says:

    I always do my own reading challenge, if you can call it that. I LM November or December, I get recommendations from my friends and peruse my Goodreads TBR and decide on 15-20 books I really really want to read next year. I keep it in my planner so when I am not sure what to read next I have a short list of ones I “have” to get through. I’ve found it to be much more satisfying than going off of anyone else’s challenge list, which usually feel like an assignment to me.

  92. Nicole says:

    I was bummed hearing this news too, but last year’s challenge is perfect for those of us that still want to create our own. I think I’ll do a mini challenge to go alongside a challenge I created for 2022 with a Harry Potter inspired theme.

  93. Kelly Gesker says:

    Oh so well put! I have used challenges to shape and direct my reading but have recently found some of it wanting—I let myself read whatever piques my interest. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. The Reading Women challenge had always been a stretch for me and I only learned last week that they were ending their podcast. It sent a bit of a shudder through me that I would not have a “striving force” propelling me forward. But then I thought “Have I learned nothing?” So I agree wholeheartedly to read and enjoy for pleasure, the reason we have all come here in the first place!!

  94. Jennifer says:

    I love this so much! In a world that is constantly saying more, more, more it is refreshing to hear a voice saying we are offering you LESS. Less pressure, less obligation, and more freedom to read what you love, what you want and what speaks to you in any given moment. That is truly wonderful.

  95. Janice Hoaglin says:

    This so fits for me right now. A few months ago I realized I was not enjoying my trips to my local library or bookstore nearly as much as I used to. And the reason, I discovered, was because I always had too many things on hold to pick up, the new releases I was hearing about, or titles from a challenge or a book club, and no time to just look at books. I have quit doing as much of that, and have started going back to what I used to love doing, just roaming the library or bookstore shelves, finding titles I meant to read years ago and never got to, or totally new authors and titles. I am enjoying this so much more! I applaud your decision to make this a more relaxing and spontaneous time for all us readers!

  96. Joan Carothers says:

    This week’s podcast got me thinking about just picking a book that looks good and reading it. No lists or “musts”. I am a total mood reader and want to just embrace that in the new year without feeling like a guilty school child. (I often just skimmed required reading because I don’t like being told what to read!) Thanks for the resources and ideas for those times that I’m stuck!

  97. Suzanne Harley says:

    Anne, thank you for this. I have been doing reading challenges on Goodreads for many years. As you probably know, these are focused on how many books the reader plans to read. I will not meet my goal this year and I am struggling not to feel defeated about it. Your reading challenge for 2022 sounds like just what I need to keep a positive outlook on my reading life next year. It will also make the challenge more customized for me and hopefully more inspirational. Thank you!

  98. Deena says:

    I LOVE IT! I’ve made my own reading challenge and followed several others for the past 5-6 years. Last month, as I was getting my 2022 Reading Journal ready, I decided to not do any challenges for those exact reasons. Thank you for being such a supportive and encouraging resource for me. I appreciate you!

  99. Andrea says:

    Love this so much!

    I typically try super hard to read 100 books every year and it’s just felt exhausting lately. So I already decided that in 2022 I’m going to finally read the bigger books I’ve been putting off. 2022 reading will be about learning, escapism and joy, no pressure. No challenges. No expectations.

    I’m so excited to see that you are on the same page.

  100. Laurel says:

    Thank you! Once again I appreciate you and your staff. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and want to read because I love it, and not because I need to check off another square. I feel relieved like I did when I learned from you that it was ok to not finish a book! Thank you for helping me develop a healthy reading life!

  101. Michelle says:

    Anne! You captured this sentiment so well. It’s what I knew and how I am navigating reading, and yet, it’s wonderful to hear it from the expert voice in my life on it. Thank you for cheering everyone on in the reading life including those who want a challenge ( not me!)!

  102. Nanette says:

    There are lots of other challenges out there for people who really want them (Around the Year in 52 Books, 52 Book group, PopSugar, Book Riot). I like the prompts that push me to read outside my comfort zone but I agree that the pressure part of challenges isn’t good for me. So I’m really going to think about my reading plan for 2022. I still have the challenge lists if I want to try them but I’m not pushing to actually complete them. Mostly I need to read some of the 100s of books I own already.

  103. Shelby says:

    What a refreshing outlook! Thanks for permission to relax about reading. (And if I feel like doing a challenge, I’ll make one of my own based on years past!).

  104. Camille A Wilson says:

    I agree! I’ve also been thinking of not doing the Goodreads Challenge for 2022 because I didn’t meet my 2021 reading challenge. I feel like a failure as a reader and that’s not a good thing.

  105. Lisa says:

    I rarely comment but this time I was compelled too. Anne – you made me cry with your post today. I have felt pressured – mostly put on by myself – to read as many books a humanly possible. This has brought me no joy. I look forward to an abundance of reading for the joy and love of it not for the challenge of it. Thank you again for an inspiring post.

  106. Stephanie says:

    Ah well darn. I bought your reading journal specifically to join your 2022 challenge. I am not a reading journal girl at all, but I thought it would be a fun way to track your challenge. My husband even bought me some cute reading challenge stickers so that I could participate. I’ve never done a reading challenge before, but I started reading your site about five months ago. I am a voracious reader, but I hadn’t heard of reading challenges until then. Your journal was the first physical book I bought for myself in over three years since I am a daily library goer.

    I suppose the journal can sit for now and just look pretty, because it isn’t something I will be motivated to use on my own. I had assumed you had released it ahead of 2022 so it could be used for the challenge. It hadn’t dawned on me that you may release it and then not do a challenge.

  107. Rachel says:

    Anne, you are amazing. I had been thinking coming up to the end of the year that I wasn’t going to do a book challenge next year and instead just read as the wind blew me. I was still a little sad that I would be skipping out on the challenge, so this is the best news. I’ve done a book challenge for the last 7 years (sometimes yours verbatim, sometimes a modified version), and it was fun for a while, but then I noticed it becoming more stressful than satisfying. I might return to a challenge in the future, but this permission to take a break feels so validating. Thank you for your sensitivity and for always helping us read better!

  108. Frederick says:

    Hi Ann . Thanks for being super sensitive to the needs out there. Good advice for All of us to slow down take a deep breath. Take words in deeply and ponder. Writers think carefully about their words. Their readers should too.

  109. Kathrine says:

    So here I am recovering from a break through case of covid that I probably got from one of my students. I am a reading specialist and spend my days helping kids who are struggling learn to read. And this year has been brutal “ teach them faster, cover more ground, fill in all those learning gaps” and all the time I’m thinking I just want them to love to read. Your post renewed that goal. Thank you. And my students thank you. And we will all continue to read and enjoy it.

    • Colleen Bonilla says:

      Oh dear, Katherine. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been down with Covid. My husband and I had it right at the beginning of the pandemic and it was not fun! My whole family are teachers, so I understand exactly what you’ve been going through. So much pressure on teachers and schools right now. God bless you for for every one of your efforts to instill a love of reading in your students. Before she retired a few months ago, my sister really struggled to instill that same love in her students. Sadly, many of them came from difficult homes and just couldn’t understand why they should read a book when they could watch a video instead. Hang in there. Many of us out here are rooting for you!

  110. Colleen says:

    Since my post yesterday, I have thought long and hard. Personally, I need the inspiration of the reading challenge. It is what drew me to Modern Mrs. Darcy and what has kept me here. I felt like it this structure kept me sane, gave me some direction, during the chaos of the Pandemic. I have been surprised at how many people seem to feel compelled, almost imprisoned, by the challenge; however, I accept their need to have freedom from this external list is as important as is mine for the inspiration that it provides – and there seem to be far more people in that camp.
    Because what I love most about Mrs. Darcy will be gone for the next 12 months, I need to take a break from Mrs. Darcy for the year. I will check in again in late 2022 to see if my inspiration, the Challenge, has been restored. In the meantime, I will look at some of the other challenges that have been suggested, and hope I can find similar inspiration in them.
    I trust you will understand this is my need now, even more than before the COVID crisis. I certainly understand that others draw more sustenance from other aspects of the Book Club. Thank you for the past, great six years!

  111. Jasmine says:

    This speaks to me so deeply. I fell out of reading this year for a bit because it felt like such a chore. I couldn’t (and kinda still can’t) pinpoint why. I was just tired. So I decided to read one of my favorite childhood chapter books, Superfudge by Judy Blume, and it reignited the flame. Now I’ve planned to read a favorite children’s book every time I’m in a reading rut. It takes me back to when my love of reading started and reminds me the freedom and enjoyment that comes from reading. Thanks for not doing a challenge this year. I didn’t realize until this moment that you’re absolutely right, I don’t need another challenge.

  112. Sue Schmitz says:

    I don’t know how I’ve done this, but I have 250 unread books on my Kindle. I’m perfectly happy not having a reading challenge this year. But obviously, I need HELP with this over ordering problem I seem to have. LOL! I get most of them from the Modern Mrs. Darcy daily E-Book bargain list. Love opening that E-Mail every morning!

  113. Vanessa Patz says:

    This is brilliant. I never actually complete the challenges and feel terrible when I don’t reach my goal. I also feel like I have to read and like every popular book that comes out, although I don’t usually care for it like others do. You just gave me the confirmation that I didn’t realize I needed. I will just take a step back and read what’s speaks to me. You have removed the pressure to complete yet another challenge. Challenging yourself in every aspect of your life: at the gym, as a mom, as a friend… reading should simply not be a challenge. Merry Christmas to you! And happy reading in the new year!

  114. Jess says:

    Miss Anne Bogel, you are so wonderful. Because of you, I am going to read books for fun, not work. Starting in 2022. I hope readers will read books they love too. Thank you so much Anne.

  115. Yvette says:

    I love this. I do a monthly challenge regularly which I enjoy but more than that is feeling like pressure for me. Looking forward to wonderful suggestions next year that I can read at my leisure.

  116. Erin says:

    Ok, I owe you an apology. At first I was really disappointed because I love a challenge and a good checklist. I’ve done the reading challenge the past 6 years and usually do it 2-3x over in a year. But now I am really excited to having only my desire guiding my reading for the next year. Thank you for the freedom this year.

  117. Natalie says:

    Yessss Anne! I felt this way about the Goodreads challenge that I set every year so I decided that I’m not doing it next year. I want to read whatever I want on a whim, because I find it interesting and not because I see that I am “3 books behind” on my reading challenge. Or rushing and reading short books at the end of the year to complete it. Thank you for being so thoughtful!

  118. Christina says:

    I started two challenges this year and I’m finishing zero. And I decided it’s just plain okay. I’m glad to hear you’re encouraging readers to approach 2022 without a specific challenge, and I’m relieved to know I’m in good company.

    Thanks for being responsive to your readers, Anne! That (among many other things) is what keeps me coming back for more.

  119. cheryl.nj says:

    I have to say that I’m quite disappointed that MMD is not putting out a 2022 reading challenge. They’re fun to fill in. I followed the DIY idea last year, but going through all of that again this year feels like a burden

  120. Sabiha says:

    Love the revolution away from challenges!
    I did the challenge last year of listing 12 books that I intended to read in 2021. I read 10/12 and was fine with that, but also realized that quite a bit changes throughout the year so what I felt in January may quickly be irrelevant a month or even a week later. More importantly, I discovered, acknowledge and accepted that I am a mood reader and happiest when I give myself this flexibility and grace.

  121. Abigail says:

    My spouse and I were initially disappointed, but a sentence about the early challenges inspired us to make our own this year – and to think of it as more of a scavenger hunt among the plethora of TBR books that threatens to overwhelm our small house. It includes things like: purple on the cover, an author with three names, a map, an ARC/arc (either an Advance Reader’s Copy or a story that spans two or more books.) We had a blast coming up with twelve items for the list and then did a little project of writing them out for one another on fancy paper with colored pens. It definitely took the pressure off!

  122. bookertalk says:

    Such a refreshing change to read this when almost every day now my newsfeed is filled with posts from bloggers about all the challenges they are planning to take part in next year. I don’t know how they can cope with them all – it’s far too much pressure for me. I might do one in 2022 but maybe none….

  123. Marie says:

    Sometimes I feel like you are in my head! Since finding your website a few years ago, I have always participated in your reading challenges and enjoyed them, but this year was different. I did great through the first half of the year, then started reading less as things got busier. In creating my own reading challenge before I knew how the year was going to go, I set goals that turned out to be difficult (I created prompts that would force me to read books I own, which didn’t work when I got behind on book club books, which I generally borrow from the library). I ended up picking the shortest books that would fulfill the prompts and rushing through them in December. While they were all books I did want to read, they weren’t the books I wanted to read right then, and now I feel behind on my January book club books. I was hoping you would publish a reading challenge and spare me from making things harder on myself by creating my own again, but this is an even better idea!

  124. Teresa says:

    Hmmmm, I don’t agree. I would like to make the choice as to what is best for my reading life…and challenges have always opened new reading horizons and been a joy to map out. If I feel pressure or stress, then, why do I even read.. for reading is a joy , a gift and pleasure. I thank you for the wonderful content you provide and will continue to use it to add to the joy of reading, but if it ever feels stressful to read, I’m on to other things. Yes, there are lots of reading challenges for the new year, and I will plan to use what works..grateful for the opportunity to do it. I’m sorry we won’t have your challenge to enhance our 2022 reading life.

  125. Jeanine says:

    Thank you for setting the tone for a less challenging year! Last year I really embraced audiobooks, after dismissing them for years… and it has made ALL the difference. I read a book a week last year. And I do have my own reading goals based on my last years accomplishment and the joy of finding more of what I like in that process. And I have your reading guide to go even more in depth with my reading journey in 2022. Thanks for all you do.

  126. Michele Alexander says:

    Have you already posted the 2022 book reading paper where we can list the books we’ve read throughout the year? Last year it had book spines on a book shelf. I really enjoy having all my titles I’ve read in a single say to find place.

  127. Carol says:

    I was doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge each year from 2011. I always came close to finishing my reading goals. Till 2021 I really wanted in my heart to complete a reading challenge for myself. I set a goal of 12 books & finished my first reading challenge in November 2021. It felt wonderful to finally feel like I accomplished something. December 2021 I started thinking of wanting to do another reading challenge for 2022. But the more I thought about it the more I felt like I popped the party balloon & took the fun out of it for already completing a reading challenge. I haven’t given up my love of reading. Maybe I just need a break from reading challenges.

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