Delving Into The 2016 Reading Challenge

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I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions (as usual), which means I haven’t broken any either (which is pretty fantastic). Just before Christmas, I did learn on Facebook, via a friend from Texas, about the Reading Challenge 2016 from POPSUGAR. It got me interested. Then I read of a similar reading challenge on Tim Challies’ blog, which reeled me in completely.

If you haven’t heard of the Reading Challenge, the gist of it is you read as many books as you can, generally involving a smattering of different genres in the list. Challies uses four levels: The Light Reader, The Avid Reader,  The Committed Reader, and The Obsessed Reader. Obviously, the amount of books goes up with each level. I decided to aim low and go with the first level at 13 books in a year because I’m pretty sure I can hit that bar and jump over it. Being realistic, I’m not holding out much hope of reading the 104 books at the Obsessed Reader level, which is two books a week. We’ll see how things go.

In our house, there are many books. My wife and I both have a love for books. But since we also have many children (five of them, which is relatively a lot in the twenty-first century in these United States when you’re not Mormon) and we love them also, jumping veraciously into a book just isn’t as easy as it used to be.  Child rearing generally means shoving book-reading time into the luxury category—filed next to date nights and riding a tamed Tyrannosaurus Rex. Naturally, taking part in some kind of structured reading plan (especially when it includes the word “challenge”) appeals to us.

Currently, I’m reading Winterdance by Gary Paulsen, having finished a George Grant book about Theodore Roosevelt entitled Carry a Big Stick. The latter book, a little over 200 pages, was a quick read, making me want to read a bit more on T.R. Grant focused on Teddy’s faith, qualities (including his impulsiveness), and character traits which made him the leader that he was. Winterdance is an entertaining and even poetic biographical tale about Paulsen’s training for and running in the Iditarod, an 1180 mile sled dog race in Alaska in the 1980s. The film Snow Dogs with Cuba Gooding, Jr. was loosely based on Paulsen’s experiences. I’m enjoying it so far. Paulsen’s dramatic flair for conveying the comedic and absurd makes great reading.

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On the horizon, I’m planning on reading F.F. Bruce’s The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, which was recommended by another friend of mine. My wife is reading Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live? and it’s very enjoyable to see her enjoying it as I enjoyed reading it a while back. I especially like the give and take we engage in as we both are reading our respective books. On that note, I am looking forward to reading more and learning more this year with a bit of structure.

The Wayward Pocket Knife

Wayward Pocket Knife

In case you can’t read my awesome handwriting, here’s the transcript (or whatever the cool kids and hipsters call it nowadays):

I lost my new Case pocket knife Angela gave me for Christmas, prompting me to turn the house upside down in [an] attempt to find it. I commissioned the children to help me search for it after supper.

Tipping the sofa over, I found, a wooden spoon, my guitar tuner, a saltine cracker, and a Duplo block. No knife. I was losing my mind. I resigned myself to the fact that perhaps the wayward knife was lost—maybe when we went sledding on the weekend. But, then, I tripped on my dirty Carhart pants. There in the left front pocket was my beloved Case pocket knife! All was right again.

Elephant Feet on the Navajo Nation

Elephant Feet_Navajo Nation

I revisited my fond feelings towards the Navajo Nation and all the beauty found there. I didn’t sketch this while I was there last August, but I referenced a photo I took on my way back from Kayenta and the Black Mesa (south of the ever-popular Monument Valley). I threw off the shackles of the blank page and sat on my couch and went at it for a few minutes earlier this week. I waged a good battle trying to figure out how to get our scanner to work the rest of this week. Many thanks to my wife for helping me to prevail against the Hewlett-Packard beast!

Missing in this sketch, the Navajo craft vendors with their lovely wares. When I stopped to admire these sandstone formations beside the highway, a few Native women were  setting up their folding tables, laying out table cloth and setting up their chairs under awnings which were also methodically assembled. There is so much to see and discover there in Navajo country. It’s little curiosities, like the subject of this sketch, which so often catch my attention.

Perhaps I may take my family back next time, making Monument Valley a priority on the trip. Of course, I’d have to take them to see the Elephant Feet at some juncture; a sign pointing travelers towards real fossilized dinosaur tracks near Tuba City also grabbed my fancy. Now, if only my job allowed the highway wanderer in me to run rampant.