I absolutely love the effect this list is having on my reading time. If anyone desires to read more, I encourage you to begin this reading challenge or find another one. I know there is no way I’m going to get all 104 boxes checked off, but something about checking off another box pushes me to read more and more. So here’s what I read in June and July, in the order they appear on the challenge list:
1. A biography: Shadow of the Almighty, by Elisabeth Elliot. I had read Through Gates of Splendor, but not this one. Consisting mostly of journal entries and letters by Jim Elliot, this is a fascinating story. Fascinating because a life lived this way seems so foreign in a culture of self-indulgence and comfort. I was deeply convicted. He lived as a soldier following orders, while most of us live as if we are granting Jesus a favor by serving Him every now and then. Oh, that I would live more fully in the shadow of the Almighty.
2. A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title: Love Walked Among Us, by Paul Miller. Another convicting read. How did Jesus love? How can we follow His example? Compassion, honesty, faith, complete dependence on God, loving through hurt and sadness, and doing it all for the hope of the Resurrection. I pray that God uses the truths in this book to help me look at others differently.
3. A book that won an ECPA Christian Book Award: Fervent, by Priscilla Shirer. A book on prayer, there were some sections that were extremely helpful for me and some that didn’t seem to quite live up to the hype surrounding this book. It’s a good book on prayer, but there are better ones out there.
4. A book about joy or happiness: The Things of Earth, by Joe Rigney. Debated for awhile which category this book fits. Not totally sure I made the right choice, but here it is. This book had one excellent point: we actually enjoy God by fully enjoying the gifts He gives us in creation. Love the message, love the many real-life examples and stories. Love the way he forces me to think. The only thing I didn’t love was the very slow way he builds his case. Once I was on board, which was actually before I started reading, it was tedious at times to keep reading through the many many layers of him setting out his argument. Still, if you ever suffer from low grade guilt after a great vacation or nap or hot fudge sundae, this book would be really helpful for you.
5. A book you have started but never finished: Let Me Be a Woman, by Elisabeth Elliot. I confessed to some friends that I am embarrassed to admit that I actually started this book–by my favorite author and on a topic very close to my heart–and didn’t finish it. But that was several years ago, and this time I devoured it. So so good. Short chapters made it easy to say, “Well, I’ll just read one more.” Written by Elisabeth Elliot to her daughter, Valerie, in the months before Valerie’s wedding, it is full of wisdom on what it means to be a woman, what it means to be married, and what marriage means. If you are a woman, married or not, read this book.
6. A book written by a first time author: Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, by Paula Hendricks. I chose this one as I contemplate possibly spending some time teaching the girls at church. I love that Paula wrote this book. I will definitely use it, at the very least to discuss relationship issues with my own daughters. In a culture where it is normal to go from one relationship to another at dizzying and dangerous speeds, this is a fresh voice of truth. I pray that my daughters will grasp this truth before they buckle in for a roller coaster ride of superficial and damaging relationships. If you have daughters, this book is worth your investment.
7. A book about suffering: Joni and Ken, by Ken and Joni Eareckson Tada. Ok, so this is primarily a book about marriage, but I already used that category, and suffering is the second prevailing theme throughout the book. Suffering, and their response to it, has made their marriage the profound story that it is. I had read this one before, but have no regrets about reading it again. I love their honesty, how they freely tell their story, sin included, and how the focus then is on the grace and goodness of God. She is one of my heroes. I love her faith, her joy, her love for the Lord. God shines out through her. I am so grateful for her and for the example she gives me. Read this book and any other book she’s written.
8. A book by or about the church fathers: Confessions, by Augustine. This one showed up on my daughter’s 8th grade reading list for this coming school year, and of course I have seen it quoted over and over, so I decided to tackle it. There is much gold to be mined here, if you have the stamina to dig for it. It’s not always an easy read, and honestly, once I got past Book 9, I found myself getting lost quite a bit during his philosophical musings. I will probably limit Abigail to Books 1-9. I’m glad I read it, but I was really tired when I finished. Took me most of the month of June to work my way through.Totally worth it for the nuggets it contains. There is some really beautiful language, and some truths he ponders that I had never pondered before.
9. A book about writing: The Elements of Style, by E. B. White and William Strunk, Jr. Another title purchased for Abigail’s curriculum. True confession: the grammar nerd in me loved this book! I found myself wanting to cry “Amen!” If you cringe at every grammatical error you see on Facebook, you would love reading this book full of grammar rules. At first glance, it doesn’t look very entertaining, but there are puns sprinkled throughout. (Possibly, though, only a grammar nerd would see them.) I will also confess that I’m nervous typing this paragraph because I may be breaking some of the rules. I will keep this one handy for my writing endeavors.
Have I mentioned that I love this reading challenge? Already working my way through my first August read, another book written around the year 300–thanks to my daughter’s school list. Pressing on–which categories will I check off next??