2016 Reading Challenge

Last February my brother, Jeremy, showed me a reading challenge that he thought I’d be interested in trying for the year. I had successfully tracked my reading in 2015, a project Mom had urged me to do since I was a kid. It turns out that tracking what you read is easy and helpful, I should have listened. Since tracking was now a habit, and I am competitive, I decided to try the Tim Challies challenge. Here is the list, with the titles that I ended up reading for each category:


Some of the categories were challenging, some I tweaked and I was overly ambitious on some of them, but I did finish and it was a good exercise. Tracking my reading, for a challenge or just because, makes me more aware of my mental intake and more intentional about the contents of that fodder. I think about others seeing my list and about whether I would need to justify that choice. 

The list encouraged me to read some books that I wouldn’t have otherwise, or wouldn’t have yet, and several were from perspectives that I disagree with. Still, reading the arguments in a person’s own words was helpful. I found that in several cases arguments I had heard summed up or quoted by others were used accurately, even statements that I was skeptical of proved to be almost exact quotes. Some books were difficult to wade through, but worth the work. Others were boring and I was unsure of their helpfulness. Some were fascinating, some informative, some very well written, and some all three. I don’t recommend every book that I read, but I do most of them. I also recommend the process. Even if it takes a few years to work through, it’s a valuable exercise. This year I chose to do my own thing, however, and am attempting to read the rest of the books that we own but I haven’t read, or haven’t read in many years. It may be a several year endeavor, as we are always expanding and refining our library!

Here is the complete list of my books read lasts year, with author and page counts:

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Bookishness

Those who know me well know that I am a reader. Possibly an addicted reader. There may be more type than cells in my blood. It’s not intentional, books have always filled my soul, since I was very little and learned to read on my own. The hunger for books has increased as I’ve grown older, with a brief slow down when I was in nursing school. But I’m back now and devouring all the books I can!

This past year my brother and I kept a list of all the books we read, and how many pages they were. Mom always encouraged me to keep track of the books I read, and I did sometimes, though now I wish I had been more conscientious about it. It is a simple exercise, but has been helpful for me. It made me more aware of what I was reading. It helped me to think more about my book diet and what kinds of books I wanted in it. It gave me a feeling of accomplishment, as I finished each book and watched my page counter grow. And it let me look back and see what I had read months ago, which also helped me to remember what those books had made me think about and learn. 

Some books were new to me, some I hadn’t read since I was a child, and some were old friends that I visited for the umpteenth time. I learned something from each of them and was surprised again by how much I missed when I was a kid. My reading comprehension was pretty high then, but so much went over my head. 

I notice it most in Dickens, who did not have nearly as much sense of humor 20 years ago and whose plots were infinitely more complicated. In fact, last year I wrote him an apology letter because in my childish ignorance, I slandered him. And his book Little Dorrit. Which I thought was terrible and it bored me to tears, but is now a wonderful piece of fiction. It’s funny how time changes some things, me especially. 

But some things do not change.  Book stores are still filled with adventure and delight, and I always find a treasure when I go book shopping. Favorite authors still calm my soul and bring joy to my spirit. Some books challenge my faith and drive me deeper, others bring frustration at injustice and evil. 

Someday, Lord willing, I will share my favorites with my children and my nieces and nephews, and I will watch their eyes get wide at a plot twist, listen to their imaginations expand and develop with each new story. Someday maybe I will have read a fraction of what I hope to read, but probably not. There are probably not enough years in a life to read that fraction. Maybe God has a special library for people like me. For now, it’s time for a yummy cup of coffee and the start of a new book!  Would you like to join me this year, recording what you read and building a habit of good literature into your life?