Saturday, December 10, 2016

Finishing Books: the 2016 Reading Challenge

Last year around this time I came across a post by Tim Challies that encouraged people to read more in 2016 by following a reading challenge.  I was so intrigued.  I had gotten into a really bad habit of starting books, but not finishing them.  I even have a shelf on my Goodreads account that is called, "Started But Not Finished".  Yuk!  

As a result of this terrible habit and that inspiring post I set out to finish 26 books in 2016!  I say "finish" because I was already reading some pretty great books that I didn't want to abandon.  That would still challenge me to finish a book every other week.  I copied the lists below into my bullet journal and kept track of my "every other week" goal on my monthly spreads. Here are the results:

The Light Reader 
  • A book about Christian living - "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" Technically I still haven't finished this one, but it is on my list for this month!  This is an excellent book and should be required reading for all believers.
  • A biography - "Out of the Depths" A good, hard read that was recommended to me by a church friend.  
  • A classic novel - "Uncle Tom's Cabin" - started, but never finished. To be continued in 2017.
  • A book someone tells you "changed my life" - I tried to read "Interrupted" by Jen Hatmaker because several people recommended it, but I couldn't get past page 8.  
  • A commentary on a book of the Bible - "Because the Time is Near" This was an excellent book on Revelation that I enjoyed very much!
  • A book about theology - "Delighting in the Trinity" Hoping to finish this one in December.  It is a really good book that explores the relationship between the three persons of the trinity.
  • A book with the word "gospel" in the title or subtitle - "What is the Gospel?" Our church hands these out in their visitor bags and I can see why.  It really lays out the Gospel in an approachable way.
  • A book your pastor recommends - "Your Child's Profession of Faith"  So many books I read have come as recommendations from my pastor.  This one is great for parents.  Whether or not you have a child that has already professed faith this book is super helpful when thinking about how to talk to your child about their own profession.
  • A book more than 100 years old - "Emma" This was my first Austen read.  I'm not gonna lie, it was hard to get into, but after halfway I really enjoyed it.
  • A book for children - "Red Wall" Ethan has read so many of these books, but I hadn't read any yet so we listened to this on audio book this summer.  The audio book is a full cast of actors and was really engaging to listen to. All the kids enjoyed it, although most of it was over my four year old's head and I had to explain some to my six year old.
  • A mystery or detective novel - "Hounds of Baskerville" I really enjoy the new Sherlock show from the BBC and I wanted to see what the original novel was like.  This book did not disappoint and I loved all the changes that were made to modernize the story, yet the heart of it all was kept in tact. 
  • A book published in 2016 - "Do More Better" I cheated on this category since it was technically published at the end of 2015.  I would say if you've read Tim's productivity posts you don't need to buy the book as it was largely and expansion of those.  He does include how to set up digital tasks, but I found them to be tedious and I went back to just using my bullet journal.
  • A book about a current issue - "Hands Free Mama" I want to be more present with those around me and this book challenged me to do just that.

The Avid Reader
  • A book written by a Puritan - "Mortification of Sin" - Unread, on my list for 2017.
  • A book recommended by a family member - "Teach Them Diligently" Actually started this one with a friend who is like a family member, but we didn't finish.  It is a serious parenting book that you can't just breeze through!
  • A book by or about a missionary - "William Carey"  This book took me the longest to finish!  It was inspiring to read about such a godly man and the struggles he went through in ministry, but I did think it could have used some better editing.
  • A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize - "Germs, Guns and Steel" Unread, it is at the top of my list for 2017.
  • A book written by an Anglican - Never found a book that fit this category that I wanted to read, but I'm open to suggestions.
  • A book with at least 400 pages - "Seveneves" 880 pages of great science fiction!
  • A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien - "Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" Technically, I've read this before but the kids and I listened to it on CD and really enjoyed it.
  • A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title - "The Hardest Peace" This was one of the hardest books to read, but I'm so glad I did.  I even read another book by this author because I enjoyed this one so much.
  • A book with a great cover - "Ready Player One" If you are a child of the 80s (or close) and played any video games, you are going to love this book.  They are even making it into a movie in 2017.
  • A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers - "The Martian" I saw the movie before I even knew there was a book. Even though I knew what was going to happen, not only did I enjoy this book, but it had me on the edge of my seat at the end!
  • A book about church history - "Church History" Unread, on my list for 2017.
  • A graphic novel - "Drowned City" I grew up in Louisiana and watching Katrina unfold from Knoxville was so hard.  This was a personal look at what happened the the great city of New Orleans.
  • A book of poetry - Never found one for this category
Other books I finished: Even though Tim supplied great topics on the challenge, there were still books I wanted to read outside of the suggestions above.
  • "A Life of Principled Obedience" Technically this is just a pamphlet, but it is a great one!
  • "Harry Potter" I had read this already, but this summer I wanted a really easy read and this answered that need!
  • "Simply Your Spiritual Life" This was a great book!  I read it on the Kindle and I really need to transfer all of my highlights to my Evernote so I can make some tasks from them for 2017.
  • "Just Show Up" This was a follow up book to "The Hardest Peace" and I really enjoyed it.
  • "Green Ember" and "Ember Falls" I really enjoy reading fiction before bed and I loved these books.  My 9 year old also ate them up and we are excited for the author to continue the series.
  • "Mr. Popper's Penguins" This was a cute novel that we listened to in the van this summer.  All the kids (4-9) enjoyed it.
  • "Jurassic Park" and "Lost World"  Especially in the summer months I just want good books that I can read and enjoy.  I remember Jurassic Park being one of the first novels that I read as a young girl and loved so I read through it again this summer.  This year I also read the sequel and found it equally exciting.  
Other books that I've started, but haven't finished yet:
  • "12 Years a Slave" As I'm reading this book I can't believe it's a true story!
  • "Heart of Anger" Philip and I are reading this great book as a result of some discipline issues that came up this summer.  It is super helpful in helping parents help their kids walk through their anger issues.
  • "The Peacemaker" This book is so excellent.  Right along with "Instruments.." it should be required reading.
  • "When People are Big and God is Small" Looking forward to finishing this book as soon as possible.
  • Books finished: 25!  Only one away from my goal and I have three weeks in the year left.
  • Books to finish in 2016: 2 I'm going to try and finish "Instruments..." and "Delighting in the Trinity"
  • Started, but haven't finished: 8  This is a large number, but with a plan I think they will all be finished this year or next.

Even though I haven't finished this challenge yet this was a huge success for me.  I can't believe I've read this many books this year!  To continue with my pace I do plan to 
to write my own reading challenge for 2017.  This year the categories will be based on my areas of responsibility and roles in those areas.  I'm going to read books that pertain to my personal growth, Biblical counseling, parenting, diabetes, etc.  I'll post that list in a future blog post.

What did you read this year?  If you want to read more in 2017 I highly suggest making a plan and then sticking to it!

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