The Home and Garden Journal of Kayla Pins

Reading Challenge Update | #MMDchallenge

Reading Challenge Update | #MMDchallenge

The thrill of picking out a new book is almost as great as finding one.

I’ve really enjoyed Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 Reading Challenge so far because I’ve purposefully sought out books I may not have picked otherwise. I like that the challenge is open-ended. I haven’t been stuck in a specific title. If I start something I don’t like I can switch to a new title within the criteria. I love hunting down my next title and have settled on some pretty good picks.

I thought today I’d update you on my progress so far and seek out some help for what to read next.

A book published the decade you were born

Another goal I have over the next two years is to read all of the Newbery Award winners before the 2022 release of the 100th award winner. For this criterion, I looked up the award winners from the 80s.

I started both of these goals by reading Jacob Have I Loved. It was perfect timing because I was reading The Red Tent and the book of Genesis at the same time. I wrote about all of these in a previous post.

A debut novel

I always like Reese Book Club picks and Where the Crawdads Sing did not disappoint. People have been recommending it all year so I finally gave it a try.

It is a coming-of-age novel that of course has a love story but also mixes in a murder mystery. I just loved the main character and found her so endearing. What an amazing book, especially for a debut novel.

A book recommended by a source you trust

Oh, my was this one, The Life We Bury, ever good. It was recommended by my favorite source I trust, my Mom. Mom blogs at Jo’s Country Junction and has a book review every Tuesday. This one, though, she called me and told me I must. read. She said it even made her top 20. Being a voracious reader I knew this was an exclusive list so I gave it a try.

I would say this one is in my top 20 too. I love the location of central Minnesota, as I am familiar with the area. The main character, Joe, is late to sign up for college courses so he is “stuck” with a biography course. He does not know his extended family so he seeks out someone to interview at a local nursing home. He meets Carl, a convicted rapist and murderer who is out on parole because of terminal cancer.

The book is at once a coming of age novel, a whodunit from the past, with a whodonit from the present happening at the same time. It is engaging and endearing from beginning to end.

A book by a local author

I’m spoiled in that I get to count Heather Gudenkauf as a local author. This particular book, Not a Sound, was based in Dubuque aka “Mathias” and had lots of features we were familiar with. I would occasionally read passages to Spencer to see if he could guess where she was referring to.

Not a Sound is told from the perspective of a woman grappling with the grief of losing her hearing, career, and marriage after a terrible accident. She finds a dead body of someone she knows near her home and finds herself personally involved in the investigation… and the coverup.

I love Heather Gudenkauf books. There is usually a mystery but they are never too dark. They keep me interested but are neatly tied up at the end.

I’m a quarter of the way through my challenge. Even though I’ve already read a book from a trusted source, I need some help picking my next reads. Here’s what I have left:

  • A book outside your (genre) comfort zone: I haven’t read fantasy since Harry Potter, and I’m the same age as Harry, to give you an idea of how long ago that was.
  • A book in translation
  • A book nominated for an award in 2020
  • A re-read
  • A classic you didn’t read in school: Don’t assume anything here… I was a good reader but a terrible student.
  • Three books by the same author

I’m excited to hear your suggestions!


5 thoughts on “Reading Challenge Update | #MMDchallenge”


    These books are written by my cousin…shameless plug, I know! But…would have loved them without knowing her. They are a bit historical fiction, a bit romance, and a bit mystery. They are based off of a real wooman who lived in a nursing home around Chicago and the stories she told my cousin as she worked there. Check them out! The first one is free on Kindle. Many have been nominated and won awards.

  • Thanks for the book ideas and your blog. I’ve certainly been reading more during this coronavirus quarantine. For a book in translation, I recommend A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. I’ve read others by Backman ..

  • I’d love to suggest one of my favourite books — it’s probably outside your comfort zone (fantasy/historical fiction) AND it was s Newbery Honor Book. It’s a lovely little gem called The Perilous Gard, by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Try your library first.. it’s from the 1970s. It’s set in Elizabethan England, about a young maid of honour who gets banished to the countryside, where she discovers that the faerie folk are real. But they’re not tiny, they’re human-sized and -shaped, and they are powerful and dark. It’s a wonderful book, our heroine Kate is a delightfully non-beautiful, awkward, forthright girl, it’s got humour and suspense and the best ending ever. I love it. I read this book for the first time at age 11, many times since, and my daughter is named after Kate, to show you how much it influenced me.

  • I had to look at my lists of books I’ve read to remember this title — Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian all in one — if that is a genre that is outside your comfort zone. It was exciting and fun.

  • One of my favourite authors is Charles Martin. I’d recommend most of his books, although “The Mountain Between Us” and “Water From My Heart” are my faves (“When Crickets Cry is also amazing!)

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