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Why you should take on a reading challenge in 2011

fall booksDo you have an embarrassingly long to-read list?
But you only slowly pick books off it?

Take on a reading challenge and change that.

It forces you be intentional about:
     what you need to read;
     what you want to read;
     what is reasonable to read in your time frame.

  • If you want to read more widely,
    pick one book each from several genres.
  • If you want to complete a series,
    choose to read those books exclusively in a row.
  • If you want to focus on spiritual books (or whatever) for a season,
    make a list of the top 3 or 4 most beneficial books you can find on that subject.

Fall into Reading 2010Then commit to a goal on your own, or join an on-line challenge like this one that Katrina sets up each fall and spring, or a monthly one like What’s on Your Nightstand? by Jennifer.

We’re completing our Fall 2010 challenge today, but we’ll probably start our next challenge on March 20, 2011, and end on June 21.

Whether you want to read one book or a dozen, setting a goal is a more sure way of making it happen. And telling others adds an extra layer of accountability for you to follow through.

For Fall into Reading 2010, I actually enjoyed reading more fiction than normal. I read then listened to The Help, and found a new favorite author, my friend Melanie Dickerson, whose has just signed with Zondervan to publish her second medieval novel next winter based on Beauty and the Beast.

The sleeper book for reading and for action was Coffee Shop Conversations about making spiritual small talk. I got it free on my Kindle, knowing nothing about it, and it was fantastic. (Now I need to actually DO it better, not just READ about it. Look for my book review on Wednesday…)

I was comforted the most by A Shelter in the Time of Storm, and was slightly disappointed the most by The Grace of God (the book, not the actual grace!) because it was a tad redundant, although still good.

Humility and Story of a Soul helped me decide on humility (again) as one of my spiritual resolutions for 2011.

I’m still in the middle of my last two books but since I added at least two extra books to my original list as the season went on, I’m okay with that.

Here’s what I read:


  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
         It’s good. It’s Lewis. Read it either before or after you see the movie. (And do see the movie!)
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
         It lives up to its hype. Go ahead and read it yourself.
  • Emma by Jane Austen
         If you love Jane Austen or think you’d like to, read Pride & Prejudice, then read Emma.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
         A delightful little story (and much cleaner than the movie).
  • The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
         A sweet medieval romance novel loosely based on Sleeping Beauty.
Spiritual living
  • A Shelter in the Time of Storm by Paul David Tripp
         A whole book of meditations on Psalm 27. And by Paul David Tripp!
  • Coffee Shop Conversations by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher
         Practical examples/reasons for making your small talk count. Excellent!
  • The Grace of God by Andy Stanley
       I wanted more, but what was here was fine.
  • Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
         This will inspire you to be more daring. I always need a push.
  • Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
         An autobiography about her imprisonment during World War II. (Warning: It might make you feel like a wimp. Darlene was very courageous.)
  • Won’t Let Go Unless You Bless Me by Andrée Seu
         Andrée is my favorite columnist at World magazine. She always makes me think. (Still reading this one.)


  • Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp
         This was a re-read of a re-read. Yeah, it’s that good. About parenting teens.
  • Good and Angry by Scott Turansky
         Another re-read. (See? I have to re-read my parenting books over and over.)


  • The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul
         Maybe not officially a classic yet, but it will be. It’s worth your time. I’m finishing it this week with the Reading Classics Together group and Tim Challies. 
  • Humility by Andrew Murray
         Yes, it’s humbling. Murray makes such a strong argument about our underestimation of the importance of humility that I’m lingering here.
  • Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux 
         An inspirational autobiography by a young nun in the 1800’s.


  • Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
         I actually read this in less than an hour. Short chapters with drawings. A business Proverbs, of sorts.

* * *

I still have an embarrassingly long to-read list, but it’s shorter than it used to be. (Thanks to Jenna for the picture of my books! Isn’t she creative?)

What’s a favorite book you read this fall?



Melissa said...

My list is so long, and keeps growing longer. I need to take a long, hard, realistic look at the books I want to read in 2011 and make a list.

Thanks for the encouragement, Lisa!

Anonymous said...

The Help is definitely on my list of books to read soon - great wrap up post!

Barbara H. said...

Those are all reasons I enjoy a reading challenge even if I don't finish all the books on my list -- just making the list helps me be more intentional and work things into my reading that I "mean to" get to but don't pick up.

Coffee Shop Conversations sounds really good. My biggest problem in sharing Christ -- besides my reluctance to talk to anyone about anything potentially confrontational -- is not knowing hoe to get there from everyday small talk.

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

Oh, I'm definitely going to check out The Healer's Apprentice. Thanks for a great wrap-up!

A Faithful Journey said...

I also read The Help as part of the challenge and really enjoyed! I am now anticipating more from this author.
And I am going to have to keep my eye out for that novel you mentioned based off of Beauty and the Beast! {love that movie!!}

If you are looking for a challenge for 2011, I am hosting a Jane Austen challenge on my blog! Stop on by for details!

Merry Christmas!

Susanne said...

My to-read list is never ending and my book basket constantly full! LOL.

The Help was one of my favorite reads out of this challenge.

Trisha said...

I enjoy reading your book reviews, and even though I don't officially do a reading challenge, I did make a list for the first time ever this past year. It's really helped keep me on track! And, it's helped me broaden my genres of reading, too.

I even added The Help to my list because of your recommendation. :)

My favorite book read this fall....Your Home a Place of Grace by Susan Hunt.

Julie said...

I like the way you have your wrap up post organized. I'm much more willy-nilly both with choosing books for challenges and with followup (other than the actual reading, of course!) WTG! I'm still on the fence about The Help, but I will be purchasing it in '11 and reading it just so I can make up my own mind about it!

Carrie said...

I've been on the lookout for The Help since reading your review.

And it's good to know that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is cleaner than the movie. The story has great appeal but I hated the movie.

Congrats on all that you accomplished!

Kara said...

Okay, now I've got to check out Coffee Shop Conversations and Melanie Dickerson! I read more fiction than usual this fall too. Isn't Good and Angry a great book?! One of my favorite parenting titles. And I've really enjoyed reading along with you and everyone else with The Holiness of God. Definitely a classic in the making!

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Great job! And I loved your thoughts on the benefits of taking on a reading challenge.

I'm definitely going to check out Coffee Shop Conversations. And I have Shelter in the Time of Storm on my Kindle...must get around to reading it.

Happy New Year!


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