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The 2014 TBR Pile Challenge


Having moved this past year, I am incredibly aware of the sheer volume of books I own (as are the friends who helped me move). I can’t say I regret owning as many books as I do, because, well, I don’t. But I do find myself somewhat ashamed of the number of books that I own that I just haven’t read. Some are gifts, some are book sale finds, some are, “hey I’m cleaning off my book case and thought you would be interested.” I need to give these books a chance. And this year, thanks to the TBR Pile Challenge hosted by the Roof Beam Reader, 12 will get the chance to be read.

The goal is pretty simple: read twelve (12) books from your TBR pile in 2014. That’s one a month, and feels pretty manageable to me. If you are interested in taking the challenge yourself, click on the link above for the complete details.

My 2014 TBR Pile Challenge List:

1. Running the Race: Eric Liddell Olympic Champion and Missionary by John W. Keddie (2007)

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

3. The Curate’s Awakening by George MacDonald (edited by Michael R. Phillips, 1985)

4. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (1956)

5. The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change by Brenda Salter McNeil and Rick Richardson (2004)

6. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)

7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (2006)

8. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (1889)

9. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (2003)

10. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1820)

11. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)

12. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2012)

I’m feeling bold and a little reckless, so I am not going to have alternates. I tried to pick a wide variety in a number of categories, and I did a bit of overlap with my Back to the Classics Challenge list in hoping for success on both challenges.


What’s on Your Nightstand February

NightstandI’ve had a number of things change since January 1, and I’ve found myself with a surprising amount of time on my hands. It’s both wonderful and incredibly odd. That being said, here’s what I read in February:

The Forgotten by David Baldacci

The Expats by Chris Pavone

Inside Afghanistan: The American Who Stayed behind after 9/11 and His Mission of Mercy to a War Torn People by John Weaver

Pocket Your Dollars

Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, & Keep More of What You Make by Carrie Rocha

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

Not too shabby, although I am no less behind on posting my reviews.

For February, here’s what I am reading and hoping to complete:

Tramp for the Lord

Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom- A sequel to her powerful story The Hiding Place

A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year:  A Life Changing Journey into the Heart of God by Diane Stortz- I think the title says it all on this one- its a practical guide for reading through the Bible in a year.

A Holy Passion: Holiness by Ronald Blake, Neil Wiseman, & Charles Zinkman- This is a collection of essays on the topic of holiness for pastors. I think its an incredibly helpful resource in understanding the Church of the Nazarenes position on the doctrine on holiness…but I’ll confess, some of the essays are pretty dry.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini- This is the authors first stand alone, a historical fiction book based on Elizabeth Keckley, Mrs. Lincoln’s dressmaker. So far so good.

I could keep going, adding this week’s library books, and all the non-fiction I keep picking up and putting down, but let’s see how I do with these, shall we?

Check in a to see what others are reading.


The Books that Shape Us

In my wanderings today, I came across this post by Nathan Harden “Five Classic Books Every Smart Person Should Read” on the Huff Post blog. I am not going to lie, I felt like it took some audacity on Harden’s part to title it as he did and I almost didn’t read on that basis alone…but I was too curious to see his list to not finish the post.

For those curious, Harden’s list includes:

1. Homer’s Oddessy

2. Plutarch’s Lives

3. The Bible

4. Dante’s Divine Comedy

5. Shakespeare’s The Tempest

What I appreciated about the article is that Harden advocated that individuals read these books not because they were his favorites, or because you should have read them as one of  the elite, but because they have shaped our intellectual and moral history. He pointed out that these books are no longer required reading, and that, “Consequently, we are less likely than ever to understand where our political and moral ideas come from.” Often, we are willing to read books that agree with our moral, intellectual, and political ideals, but we don’t fully explore where those ideals originated from. Americans especially seem to disconnect from history, aside from our own.

I will confess, I have not read the bulk of this short list, the exceptions being The Bible and Dante’s Divine Comedy, but I am curious to pick up each of the books mentioned, and to consider them for what they have been- books that shaped the intellectual history of generations.

What about you- have you read any of Harden’s list? Would you add any to this list, and why?

Summer Reading Challenge Progress Report

Well, it has been over a month since my post announcing my participation in the Summer Reading Challenge and I thought I should update all of you on my progress to date.

So far, I’ve finished:

6. One Classic All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

8. One New Release Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by AJ Jacobs

And  I am nearly completed with:

10. One Chunkster (A Book That Is Over 400 Pages) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

It’s not a bad start considering one of the books on that list is over 800 pages, but there are still 7 books that remain on the list, and of course, a few of the remaining could fall into the chunkster category as well. I also have quite a stack of books in my to be read pile, as well as, two books from publishers to be finished and reviewed. With this challenge, and that big stack of library books, I’ve decided to suspend my holds for the next few weeks at my local library.

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the challenge because it presents such a wide variety of books, but I have found that one of the things I also desire during the summer is some light reading. So I think my compromise is that I will press on with my Summer Reading Challenge, but I will also weave in some lighter fiction as well, more than likely on weekends when I have more time to read.

If you’ve taken up the challenge with me, what are you reading, and how are you progressing so far?

Review: The Pursuit of Justice

Pursuit of Justice by DiAnn Mills is the third book in the Call of Duty Series. Pursuit of Justice tells the story of Special Agent Bella Jordan, and her pursuit of a killer who murdered three men hunting for the Spider Rock Treasure. What her superiors don’t know is her personal connection to the Spider Rock Treasure and the possible killer.

Pursuit of Justice is a fast moving, suspenseful read. Mills does a great job, as she did in her previous two novels in the series, of developing the characters. Bella seems normal and down to earth, and the interactions between characters are not unexpected. What is unexpected are the twists and turns connected to the mystery. Even at the end, when I think things are wrapped up, there is a twist.

There is a faith component in the series, and in Mills writing. Themes of grace and forgiveness are vividly present in this novel. In some ways, I think Bella’s struggle and her ultimate decisions regarding faith and forgiveness feel slightly…easy. While it was not completely unexpected, it did take away from things for me.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a simple and engaging read. 3 Stars.

Library Loot June 27-July 3

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky (located this week at The Adventures of an Intrepid reader) any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Last night after my walk around the local high school track with a friend, I moved onto my errands, one of which was a stop at the library to return a few things and to pick up a reserve item. I am trying to minimize what I take out from the library right now- not because I don’t love the services of my local library, but because my Summer Reading List and Summer Reading Challenge Lists are primarily composed of books that I own, and if I hope to finish both lists by Labor Day, I need to read mainly off the lists. But…because reading is also fun, and because I just love finding new books, I find myself in the library once a week to either browse the incoming books or pick up a reserve item.

Here’s this weeks loot:

On the Outside Looking Indian: How my Second Childhood Changed My Life by Rupinder Gill

“Rupinder Gill was raised under the strict rules of her parents’ Indian upbringing. While her friends were practicing their pliés, having slumber parties, and spending their summers at camp, Rupinder was cleaning, babysitting her siblings, and watching hours on end of American television. But at age 30, Rupinder realized how much she regretted her lack of childhood adventure.

Stepping away from an orderly life of tradition, Rupinder set put to finally experience the things she missed out on. From learning to swim and taking dance lessons, to going to Disney World, her growing to-do list soon became the ultimate trip down non-memory lane. What began as a desire to experience all that had been denied to her leads to a discovery of what it means to be happy, and the important lessons that are learned when we are at play.” From 

Admittedly, I tend toward true life tales like this one, but I am interested in how Gill chooses to form her second childhood and the impact it has.

My second book was actually one a friend recommended- Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. By all accounts, P.D. James is an amazing mystery writer, and this particular work, incorporating some of my favorite Jane Austen characters displays a rare genius. I’m looking forward to this interesting spin on Elizabeth and Darcy’s story.


Reading outside the box: expanding your horizons

The last time I traveled home to Maryland for Christmas, December 2010, I spent a lovely week at home spending time with friends, hanging out with my family, taking up a corner table of a local coffee house, and collecting books. A ton of books in fact. I came home with two full paper boxes full of books.

Some were books I had gotten for Christmas, a Paula Deen Celebrations Cookbook, and a really cool British Cookbook. Others were theology, fiction, and Christian spirituality books from a friend who was clearing her shelves after a big move. Finally, I also received an impressive collections from my Dad and Grandmother of books they loved and wanted me to try.

Among the books I was given were a few that were out of my normal “genre comfort zone”, like Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver (Book 1 of the Baroque Cycle). Neal Stephenson, for those unfamiliar with his work, goes under the category of science fiction, or cyberpunk. He is a difficult author to categorize because he tends to cover a couple of genres at once, and in the few pages I’ve read, I would agree with that assessment.

It is tempting to stick to what we know when we read- authors and genres that fall into the category of tried and true, especially when we read for fun. But I would challenge you to expand your horizons a bit as you read. Pick up a non-fiction book about something you are interested in if you normally read strictly fiction. Try a book of poetry or short stories. Go outside your comfort zone to check out new and interesting reads. Maybe the plan will completely fail and you won’t like the book. But you’ll be more educated about why a genre, or a book doesn’t work for you.

So….what outside-the-box book will you be adding to your reading list? Have you tried something new before and had a great experience? Have you tried something new and had a horrible experience?

Summer Reading Challenges

I’ve been looking for awhile for my library to launch their summer reading program, but apparently I am moving a bit ahead of them on this one. In the past, I can’t say its been an impressive thing- the last few years it has pretty much consisted of reading books, and then reviewing them. Prize winners are randomly selected from the reviews, so the more reviews, the more chances you’ll win a prize. Interesting, but not really challenging, especially for someone who reads so regularly.

In my blog reading this morning, I came across Kate’s Book Club and her Summer Reading Challenge- . (The original post I was reading, by the way, was Talk about an exciting find! So… without further adieu, here’s the challenge:

1. One Book Recommended By A Friend.
2. One Book That Has Been Sitting On Your Shelf For Over A Year.
3. One Book You Read A Long Time Ago And Want To ReRead.
4. One Book From Your To Be Read List.
5. One Book You’ve Never Heard Of.
6. One Classic.
7. One Book You Started But Never Finished.
8. One New Release.
9. One Book That Is Outside of Your Typical Genre.
10. One Chunkster (A Book That Is Over 400 Pages).
I am going to give it a shot…want to try it with me? I am going to post the list again below, and list my book in italics. I will cross each book off as I complete it, so be sure to check back in to see how I am doing. Since I consider the end of summer Labor Day, my deadline is September 3, 2012.
Here’s what I am thinking about using for the challenge:
1. One Book Recommended By A Friend Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
2. One Book That Has Been Sitting On Your Shelf For Over A Year The Shack by Paul W. Young
3. One Book You Read A Long Time Ago And Want To ReRead Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
4. One Book From Your To Be Read List The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
5. One Book You’ve Never Heard Of On Hitler’s Mountain by Irmagard Hunt
6. One Classic All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
7. One Book You Started But Never Finished Emma by Jane Austen
8. One New Release Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by AJ Jacobs
9. One Book That Is Outside of Your Typical Genre Poetry and Prose by Walt Whitman
10. One Chunkster (A Book That Is Over 400 Pages) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

Summer Reading List

When I think summer reading, traditionally my thoughts turn to mass market paperbacks and best seller lists. I’m usually focused on what I might stick in my beach bag, or what I will take on vacation with me. This summer, however, my reading list has taken a different turn.

This summer my goal is to actually work through some of the books on my shelves that are unread. Let me assure you- there is no small quantity of books on my shelves that remain unread, and yet, I continue to acquire more. I am often lured away by the library, friend’s bookshelves, and whatever looks interesting on Amazon on a given day. So… with that goal in mind, here’s my Summer Reading List (listed in order of remembrance, not in order of significance)

Till We Have Faces: A Novel of Cupid and Psyche by C.S. Lewis

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Breach of Trust (Call of Duty #1) by DiAnn Mills

Sworn to Protect (Call of Duty #2) by DiAnn Mills

Pursuits of Justice (Call of Duty #3) by DiAnn Mills

The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus was and Is by N.T. Wright

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Kidd Monk

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voscamp 

I could easily keep going…but let’s see if I manage to finish and review the first ten. 🙂

What does your summer reading list look like? Is it a new series discovered at the library, your reading groups latest novel, or a stack of magazines you’ll take the to beach? Post some of your titles in the comments, and maybe others will get a chance to check them out.

6/18/12- I have read three of the 10 so far. I admit…I may have cheated and added a few to my reading challenge. My review for All Quiet will post tomorrow, so be sure to stop back in.

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