Break Time: 2020 Reading Challenge

If you follow me on Goodreads, you've probably seen at least a few of my book reviews, and you may even know that I'm several books ahead of schedule on my 2020 Reading Challenge.

I've been reading so much that even with a few weeks to go, I've already completed Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 Reading Challenge. Here are the titles I selected for each category:

A book published the decade you were born

Three books by the same author #1

A book in translation

A book outside your (genre) comfort zone

Three books by the same author #2

A re-read

A book recommended by a source you trust

Three books by the same author #3

A debut novel

A book by a local author

A classic you didn't read in school

A book nominated for an award in 2020

Many of these books had been sitting on my shelf for some time, and the challenge categories gave me the nudge I needed to finally read (or re-read) them. I probably wouldn't even have considered some of the others.

This was my fourth time participating and I can't wait to see what's in store for 2021!

If you're curious, feel free to check out the categories and my book picks for 2015, 2018 and 2019.

Have you also found yourself reading more books than ever this year? Which ones do you recommend?

Photo © Janet Barclay


  1. Kathy Stinson on November 19, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve listened to two audio books this fall that I’d recommend.
    Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
    The Library Book by Susan Orlean

    • Janet Barclay on November 20, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve put them both on my “want to read” list on Goodreads and am wondering if The Library Book might be a good one for my book club. We do read non-fiction from time to time.

  2. Kathy Stinson on November 20, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    I think anyone who likes books and libraries will like The Library Book. It’s largely about a fire at a Los Angeles library and its aftermath and covers a lot of interesting related ground, so I think your group would find enough in it to make discussion interesting too. I hope so anyway, since I seem to be recommending it. 🙂

  3. Julie Stobbe on November 23, 2020 at 7:51 am

    I listen to audiobooks on my morning walk and when I am doing household chores I don’t enjoy doing. This has helped me to really broaden my book selections. I also have read some from past decades, a classic you didn’t read in school. I love these categories. Thanks for introducing me to the reading challenge. Even though it will be a listening challenge for me lol.

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      Julie Bestry told me about this challenge a few years ago and it’s a great way to expand your reading horizons. I hope you enjoy it too!

  4. Linda Samuels on November 23, 2020 at 8:45 am

    What a wonderful assortment of books! I love the categories. One of my goals this year was to read more books than I did last year. As of today, I’ve exceeded my goal by three. But as they say, “the night is young.” I hope to finish a few more by the end of December. I tend to read mostly non-fiction, and usually am working on several at once. That may sound strange, but it my mood dictates what I feel like reading. The two books I’m currently reading are “Motivation Code” by Todd Henry and “How to Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi’s book I’m reading and doing the workbook with my family. We read a few chapters at a time, and then talk about it together.

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      Those both sound very interesting! I read a lot more non-fiction than I used to, but I do love a good novel!

  5. Diane N Quintana on November 23, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Thank you for the reminder to check Goodreads. I often forget to do that and will follow you there. I have read most of these books. Right now I’m reading American Dirt. I’m finding it hard to put down so if you haven’t yet, you might look into this book.

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      That sounds really good! My public library has 48 copies of the book, 7 copies of the audiobook and 14 copies of the ebook, with none of them currently available, so that’s a good sign that it’s popular.

  6. Seana Turner on November 23, 2020 at 9:00 am

    I am a big reader, and a part of a book group, so I always have at least two books going. I’ve read some on your list, and have heard about a couple of the others, but some are completely new. I like to listen to audio books while I’m driving and doing household chores. I find that the actors’ voices can often enhance a story, and especially love when they have multiple people reading. Reading is a true joy and a wonderful outlet during this rough year!

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      You’re the third one to sing the praises of audio books, just here in my blog comments. I may have to try one!

    • Kathy Stinson on November 23, 2020 at 7:08 pm

      If you like multiple readers of your audiobooks, Seana, you might really like Lincoln in the Bardo. It may have broken a record with 166 voices!

  7. Melissa Gratias on November 23, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Great categories! I’m currently in month two of only reading crime books/legal thrillers written by women, particularly BIPOC women. It has been fun.

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Ooh, that’s an interesting genre! Are there any in particular you recommend?

  8. Sabrina Quairoli on November 23, 2020 at 10:30 am

    I never thought of reading “A book published the decade you were born”. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      I thought that one was pretty unique as well. 🙂

  9. Julie Bestry on November 23, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    For what it’s worth, The Library Book was one of the most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. It’s multiple genres at once, so it might appeal to many different factions in your book club. It’s non-fiction, but aspects of the narrative definitely feel like fiction in that the reader never knows the complete truth! Kathy’s recommendation is a great one!

    I do the Goodreads challenge, though I’m a handful of books behind for the year, as I had trouble having any kind of attention span early in the pandemic. (I’m back in sync now, though.) Every year, I consider doing MMD’s challenge, but in the end, I find that I prefer serendipity to planning my reading, or else it feels too much like work. (But I love reading her categories and wondering what I’d pick if I were to follow them!)

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      I am so glad you told me about MMD! It’s taken me to places I never would have gone otherwise, and in most cases, I’ve enjoyed the journey.

  10. Melanie on November 23, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    LOVE all your suggestions! This is just what I need. Audiobooks save my sanity until the days when I’ll have some time to sit down with a physical book. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be saving this one.

    • Janet Barclay on November 23, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      Wow, another fan of audio books! I really must find out what I’ve been missing.

  11. Lucy Kelly on November 24, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    If you haven’t read her yet, I can’t recommend Dara Horn highly enough. I discovered one of her books at the library earlier this Fall and have read them all now – if I could go back and read them again for the first time, I would. I particularly loved Guide for the Perplexed.

    • Janet Barclay on November 25, 2020 at 12:59 pm

      I hadn’t heard of her but just looked Guide for the Perplexed up on Goodreads and it sounds intriguing. Have added to my Want to Read list – thanks!

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