Last year at about this time, Tim Challies put out a reading challenge on his blog. While I have always loved reading, my reading had slowed down considerably in the last few years. I blame my four rambunctious little boys. I was still reading childrens' books for them, and homeschooling books for me, but that was about it. Reading through the challenge last year, I was very inspired to begin to read intentionally again. I first set my goal at 26 books, then later changed it to 52. I would have liked to jump to the next category, but 104 still seemed a bit much for me! Right now I'm at 70 books (a few of them did not fit into the categories in the challenge), and I hope to finish a few more before December is over. I will definitely be joining the 2017 Christian Reading Challenge again.
I must admit, I did not work through the challenge in an orderly way. I used the categories as inspiration as I looked for books to read, but then I read whatever I wanted and found a category to fit. I am thinking I will do the same next year.
I recently charted all the books I'd read to see what I could find out about myself and my reading habits. Here's the breakdown:
I read 32 fiction books, and 38 nonfiction. Of the nonfiction, 22 were memoir, biography, or autobiography. Of the fiction, 14 were historical fiction. For some reason I expected that I would read more fiction, and before this I had no idea that memoir was a favourite category of mine. Only 16 of the books were explicitly Christian, though a few more were by Christian authors. I would have expected more than that at the beginning of the year. But there you are.
I also broke down when the books were written. I read six books that were over 100 years old, and eight more that were over 50 years old. Forty were written after 2000. The rest were in between. I was surprised at this, too. I also noticed that I started reading more newer books about halfway through the year (That's when I started to listen to Modern Mrs. Darcy's What Should I Read Next podcast. I'm thinking maybe I should stop, but I do enjoy it so much!)
Here are my top ten books of the year (Links for your convenience, not affiliate links. If you're buying, please find a blogger you want to support that way!):
1. The Island of the World by Michael O'Brien. I reviewed it here. I still think about it.
2. Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. Here's my review. I know I will come back to this one again and again.
3. George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore. Here's my short goodreads review of the first volume. This was a set of two HUGE volumes, and they were definitely worth the time I put into them.
4. More Than Conquerors by William Hendriksen. I would never have expected an interpretation of the book of Revelation to be in my top ten, but it was wonderful. When I was finished, I wanted to start at the beginning again.
5. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. It was even better than Hannah Coulter, which I read last year. Lovely, lovely writing. My goodreads review is here.
6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I read this with the classics book club I'm a part of. I also narrated it to myself, which slowed me down and surprised me by allowing my imagination of the book to become much more vivid than it would normally be. I loved it.
7. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. There was a specific category for this author in the 2016 Reading Challenge, and I am so glad there was! I will be reading more by McCullough.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you haven't read this before, you need to put it at the top of your to-read list now. I didn't review it, but Cindy Rollins gives it ten out of five stars, and I agree with her.
9. Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman. Jane Eyre is my favourite book of all time. This biography of the author is well written, and I found it fascinating.
10. Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener. I read this for the "Pulitzer Prize winner" category of the 2016 Reading Challenge. It transported me into a world that is completely foreign to me. This is another book that I would never have picked up without the reading challenge, and I am grateful.
Persuasion by Jane Austen. This would have gone into the top ten at number 6, except that this is probably the fifth time I've read it, so I decided to give the space to the books I hadn't read before.
High Call, High Privilege by Gail MacDonald. Another re-read, and on a specialized topic that's not for everyone. If you're a pastor's wife (or will be one), this is well worth reading. For pastors, I'd recommend On Being a Pastor by Derek J. Prime and Alistair Begg.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.
If all the above titles seem a bit over-serious to you, go for this bit of fluff. Just lovely.