This last year, my third daughter, a fellow book lover, and I decided to go on a journey together. We decided to grow our relationship with books and each other by embarking on a 2016 book reading challenge where we chose a book a month to read from some pre-selected categories. It was a very positive experience that brought us both out of our comfort zones. I read a variety of genres and types: fiction/non-fiction, classics and modern, and challenging/easy.
I think stories whether in books or movies are a great way to start family discussions and get people thinking about the important things in life.
What were my take-aways?
1. I LOVE Tolstoy! I read "War and Peace" as the "Book that Intimidates Me," and although it took me three months to read with my busy schedule, it was deep and thoughtful, with engaging characters. I also read "Anna Karenina," and I rate it as the best book I read in 2016. Tolstoy explored the depths of humanity, relationships, the nature of history, and the meaning of life. Sometimes I just had to sit and chew on a thought nestled within his books savoring the truth and meaning I tasted within it.
2. The timing of a book can be as important as the book itself. "Anna Karenina" was in the category "A Book I Abandoned" because I began reading it about five years ago, and not far into the book, I set it aside as disturbing and somewhat confusing. I picked it up again, and it came to life before my eyes. Sometimes, life experience, how you have changed as a person, and the time of life you are in can make all the difference in how you see a book.
3. Some books are great for a quick, fun and engaging read. However, some books are "life" books that require thought, time, and effort, but they affect you deeply and leave you a better person. It is nice to have both in your life. It is the difference between a snack or dessert and a five course, nutritious, and savory meal.
4. A set reading challenge that you do with a buddy or two is a great way to be a consistent dedicated reader. The different categories make it fun and also lead you into new, interesting, and challenging directions. The buddy(ies) help you stay consistent and make reading a relational activity. As opposed to a book club, you each get to read something you want and feel fits you personally, and you can also learn about other books from someone else who is reading them.
5. It is important to read timeless classics (which are classics for a reason) as well as modern works that help you better understand what is happening in your own generation and how people are thinking today.