I wasn’t sure what to expect when I committed to joining the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge last year. I’d never been one to map out my books for the year. Other than my usual pattern of always having a fiction and non-fiction book going at the same time, my only commitment was to my To Be Read list. A simple list I keep in Evernote, it’s not organized in any way other than the newest books that catch my eye get added to the bottom. Being a rule-follower and classic Obliger, I would rarely read anything out of order on my list! Other than reading my book club’s particular selection (again, Obliger), I’d methodically work my way through the list. Fantastic new read everyone’s raving about? Sorry, it’s 32nd on the list. Must read all other books before it first, even as it tempts you from the library shelf!
Joining the Challenge meant that – gasp! – I’d have to read some books out of order. I might even have to read something NOT ON THE LIST. It made my rule-following heart pound, but I really wanted to try it.
I’m so glad I did! I really enjoyed the process of selecting books for each category. Looking back at the end of 2015, I realized just how much the challenge helped me break out of my reading rut and self-imposed rules. I read double the amount of books I set as a goal last year, and much of it was due to the fun of the challenge. I truly appreciate the service and inspiration Anne provides readers through Modern Mrs. Darcy, and I’m excited to participate in this year’s challenge. Without further ado, here are the 2016 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge categories, along with my personal picks!
A book published this year: Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson (Available April 19)
This book is on my Netgalley shelf, waiting for me to read it. This particular title jumped out at me for three reasons: I’m dying to go to Italy (so if I can’t go in person I’ll escape in a book!), it comes highly recommended by Ruth Reichl, and food (of course!). Sometimes I get a hunch that a book is going to be big, and that’s how I feel about this title.
A book you can finish in a day: Heartburn by Nora Ephron
At 179 pages, I could theoretically finish it in a day … that doesn’t mean I will! I’ve enjoyed other books by Ephron, but I’ve never read this classic of hers.
A book you’ve been meaning to read: The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica Turner
From the publisher: “Perfect for any woman who is doing everything for everyone—except herself.” (Raises hand.) I’ve gotten better in the last year, but I know there’s room for improvement. I’m hoping Turner’s book will help me manage my time better and lose the last remnants of guilt that linger when I schedule time just for me.
A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Our local independent children’s bookstore highly recommends this YA novel, and it’s been on my list for awhile as a selection Elena and I might be able to read and discuss together. I went out on a limb and also picked it as my book club selection for March. To my knowledge we’ve never discussed a YA novel before!
A book you should have read in school: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I feel as if I miss so many cultural references as well as an entire genre of television shows and movies I might adore by not having ever read Jane Austen. I narrowed my choices of Austen works down to Pride & Prejudice solely on the basis that Colin Firth once played Mr. Darcy in a TV miniseries based on the book. One can never have too much Colin Firth in their life.
A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child or BFF: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
I know, I know! I’m one of the last reasonable people standing that has never read Harry Potter. At the insistence of my entire family, I’m finally going to read the first book this year. Not sure if I can read the entire series in 2016, but I have a feeling once I start I won’t be able to stop.
A book published before you were born: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kirk Vonnegut
Published in 1969, I specifically chose this book because of Vonnegut’s ties to Indiana. I’ve never read anything by Vonnegut and I feel like a terrible Hoosier for admitting that.
A book that was banned at some point: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
I have a secret love of graphic novels (one made my list of favorite non-fiction reads last year). I’m horribly uninformed when it comes to matters of the Middle East, and I think this selection will be eye-opening.
A book that you previously abandoned: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
I adore Anne Lamott – she’s one of my favorite authors – and yet this book has been gathering dust on my shelf for years. I feel like I tried to tackle it at the wrong time. I was hoping it would improve my skills as a writer. I started it when Eli was an infant, and quickly realized I couldn’t finish a magazine, let alone write or read a book about writing. Fingers crossed this season of life is more suited to the topic.
A book that you own but have never read: Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen
The publisher sent me this book last year and it got lost in the shuffle. It looks like the perfect pool-side read for the summer days that feel very far off right now!
A book that intimidates you: The Martian by Andy Weir
I really want to see the movie, but I’m a stickler about reading the book before the movie if at all possible. I know people love this book, but between an off-handed comment from a friend and an interview I heard with the author on NPR, I’ve been a little scared to pick it up. The vibe I got from both accounts was that the book was very technical and very science-y. I know, that seems silly coming from a former microbiologist! I was just worried that it would be over my head and boring. We shall see!
A book you’ve already read once: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
This is on the list of books I want to read aloud to Eli. Kate DiCamillo is magical – if you haven’t read any of her children’s books before you’re missing out. This is one of my favorites, as it is wonderful as a read aloud story.
Do you have any reading goals for 2016? If you’re participating in a reading challenge, whether it’s this one or a different one, I’d love to hear about it!