When my chronic fatigue was at it's worst, I struggled to enjoy reading the way I had done before. At times I was just to exhausted to think about picking up a book and at others, I would find myself having to re-read (and re-read!) pages as my tired brain just couldn't take the information in or hold on to it. At the time it was incredibly frustrating finding that reading was yet another thing I couldn't do "normally".
Since then I have enjoyed reading again but never really got back into it in the same way and other activities seemed to replace what had once been my reading time.
In 2016 I started my first reading challenge. Keen to get back into the habit of reading after books had taken a bit of a backseat to my crocheting and crafting, I decided that setting some sort of goal might help.
I'd tried the Goodread apps a few times but never really got into it, I'd also seen friends set themselves target numbers of books to read and again it never particularly interested me. Then on instagram I spotted the Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge and immediately it appealed to me.
The Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge describes itself as one which "cares about quality way more than we care about quantity" and that "reading well doesn’t necessarily mean reading more". Rather than simply setting a target number it provides a list of prompts to help you select a range of books including genres, authors and styles you may not have tried before. Prompts such as, 'a book recommended by your librarian', 'a book that was banned at one time', 'a book you own but have never read'.
Full disclosure, I did not stick strictly to the list but it did help me read more and more importantly, it encouraged me to read a wider range of books. For example I tweaked the prompt "a book published before you were born" to "a book published in the year you were born". Thanks to a list on Goodreads I discovered that The Shining was due to turn 40 in the same year I was. It was not a book I would have thought about reading beforehand (being a complete and utter scardy cat) but I'm so glad I did. It was just wonderful and since then I've read On Writing by Stephen King and currently have Misery on my nightstand waiting to be read.
I coupled the challenge with Goodreads which I FINALLY got in to! It helped me add books to my "would like to read" list as I decided on titles that would fit my challenge. Talking to friends more about the challenge and posting photos on social media with the challenge hashtag #mmdchallenge also led to more recommendations and reading inspiration.
In 2017, Modern Mrs Darcy launched two reading challenges, one for fun and one for growth. I've decided I fancy a bit of both so have selected a few from each list and created my own challenge. You can read more about that list and my thoughts on the books I'm reading this year in my Reading Challenge 2017 blog post.
So now reading has returned to be a hugely important part of my day. I look forward to finding quiet moments when I can curl up and disappear into another world. I've got two or three favourite reading nooks in my house, where I can surround myself with comfy cushions, cosy blankets and candles. All of which just adds to the magical feeling of reading a good story.
I take my current read with me wherever I go now (unless my handbag is already full of yarn & crochet hooks of course). I've got a reading spot at my office for lunch breaks; there is something rather lovely about breaking up your day with a quiet read.
So for me finding the right reading challenge, tracking and sharing my progress and finding times and places to really enjoy reading have made a huge difference. I'd love to hear about any reading challenges, recommendations or reading prompts you follow and hope you'll find my 2017 reading list interesting too.