Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Sisters' June Reading Challenge

This June was one of the busiest months I have had in a long time. The month was rewarding with inspiring conversations and fulfilling experiences but didn't allow much reading time. So I purposely picked short books to fulfill the challenges this month. I left Charity read the long books.

I have many unread books on my shelves. I've been purposely choosing books off my shelves to fulfill these challenges. So fun to actually finish books that have long been on my TBR.

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 1. Read a book with a title that includes something from nature (plants, weather, flowers, etc).

Charity - Jayber Crow by Wendel Berry

I've been waiting to read this book because I heard that Berry is an author that you need time to read. They were right. Jayber Crow is the fictional life story of a man born in Kentucky in the early 1900s. The book is beautifully written and incredibly woven together and left me overwhelmed with delight and thoughtfulness.

Gina - The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

I knew this fairy tale was about a magic mirror that distorts the beautiful into ugly and have long wanted to read it. But I was a bit disappointed to find that the interesting premise that begins the book turns into a basic journey tale. where love melts hardened hearts. I'm glad to have finally read it, but it wasn't exactly what I expected.

2. Read a book about animals (fiction or nonfiction).

Charity - Beowulf by an unknown author

This book has been sitting on my TBR and making me feel overwhelmed every time I opened it. The poem was most likely written in the eighth century and considered one of the foundational texts of English literature. I opted to enjoy it as an audio book and found the free verse style and old English a delight to listen to, though I struggled to follow the story line. Beowulf is a story of the battle between a great prince and a monster (or dragon). Maybe I'll read it next and understand it better.

Gina - Sounder by William H. Armstrong

Years ago I borrowed this book from the library. Our neighbor boy saw it at my house and told me it was a very sad book and I returned it unread. Sounder is short, with a suitable reading level for a child, but I'm glad I waited until now to read it. The simple spare language somehow manages to load on the emotion of a young black boy who loses both his father and his dog. Maybe it is a hard read because I know it is based on a true story and similar accounts took place throughout southern United States.

3. Read a book of history or historical fiction (fiction or nonfiction). 

Charity - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

In 1951, cancer cells were taken from the body of an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks. Those cells would become the world famous HeLa cells, that have grown and multiplied into billions more. Skloot seeks to gives the world a human behind the cells, telling of Henrietta's life and the life of her children and family. Not only do you get a glimpse of science labs during the 1900s but also into the personal lives of lower class African Americans and the medical treatment available to them. This is not a boring true story. Skloot masterfully places you in another place and time and makes you feel like you know the people she is writing about.

Gina - A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh

This book was set in England in the 1600s during the Black Plague. At first I had a hard time getting into the writing style, but then I realized that the author was trying to stay true to the time period. She managed to write a book that felt authentic and by the end I couldn't put it down. I felt immersed in the religious conflict and the horrifying pandemic of the time. 

4. Read by a campfire.

Charity - Unless you let me call a candle a mini campfire, I failed this challenge. Campfires are something I do with people. So this month I sat around a campfire with those I love and enjoyed a candle-lit book reading by myself on the porch. Both were lovely!

Gina - I love people and activity, but sometimes I crave quiet. In the middle of this busy month, I was given several hours alone on a quiet mountain farm where I could hear no human noise. I lit a campfire and soaked in the stillness. Delightful.

5. Enjoy a book-themed garden party.

Charity - My oldest niece and I have an obsession with a particular book series. She had some friends who also share our obsession. So we did the most logical thing! We held a Mitford party complete with food from the Mitford cookbook. We enjoyed an evening of exceptional food and hysterical laughing. Since we can never meet Father Tim, Cynthia, and Dooley (and all our other favorite people) in person, we read about them to each other. If only Jan Karon could know how much we appreciate her. Now I'm dreaming up a new themed book party. Who should be next? Jane Austen or Charles Dickens? (Most of the photos on this post were from this Mitford party.) 

Gina - My two youngest girls play so well together that I sometimes regret how little time I spend with them. I rarely even read aloud to them, compared to the hours I read to their older siblings. Right now they both are enjoying the Little House books. So I purposed to have a Mary and Laura tea with them. They wore their sunbonnets and aprons, and we sat in the shade reading Little House in the Prairie and sipping ice tea.

I'd love to hear what reading looked like at your house in June.


  1. I'm not participating in the challenges; I just like to share good books I have read, in case someone else would like to read them. Since I'm a pianist and love to listen to the Collingsworth Family Singers, my pastor loaned me a book his daughters had gotten him for a gift. It's His Gift, My Story by Kim Colllingsworth. It was very enjoyable. Chris W.

  2. There was not much reading time. It was a very busy month with hosting a family gathering. I finished Raising Meat Goats on a Commercial Operation. I've read bits from No Risk Ranching, Fascinating Womanhood, A Chance to Die, and newsletters. No book themed parties or campfires.

    Thanks for the challenges. Fun to see what's next!! I have so many books waiting for me!!!

  3. Henrietta Lacks is an incredible book / story! My sister told me to read it, and so I did a few years ago. What a story!

    Literature-themed parties are where it's at! Keep on doing those! Do you have the Little House Cookbook? It's a fun read and pretty good cookbook. (Clearly this series made an impression on me. I've visited all the northern sites where they lived and the original Little House in Missouri. Only have Rocky Ridge left!)

  4. Hi Gina. It looks like your books look interesting.
    I bought set the set of Little House books just for me! At 60 years old, I still enjoy these books!
    I didn't complete all the challenges this month because some just didn't work. For the historical fiction book I read The Gospel According to Todd by R.A. Williams. Todd is an atheist who gets hit by a car and is sent back in time to witness the miracles of Jesus. I enjoyed the book and I thought the characters were well written.
    We are still have fire restrictions here in Arizona so I didn't do the campfire one.

    I'm excited to see what's in store for next month for challenges.

  5. Books I read in the last six days. (Hello, vacation!)
    For Women Only
    For Men Only
    June Bug
    84 Charing Cross Road
    35 Miles From Shore
    Flip and the Cows
    The Biggest Sandwich Ever
    Caps for Sale!

    1. You read For Men Only?? :D :D

    2. I have For Women Only and I still haven't read it. Maybe I better add it my summer reading.

    3. Hehe. Yes, I read For Men Only. I wanted to see what it said about women. 😅

  6. It's always great to see the next generation enjoying the Little House books. I grew up considering Mary and Laura my personal friends! :-) -Phyllis Balmer

  7. My first comment was actually written before I read this post. Now that I have read it and enjoyed the pictures, I wanted to comment again. I read the Henrietta Lacks book a few years ago. A most interesting thing about that story is that she did not willingly consent to have her cells taken and, if I remember right, did not even have the knowledge of it until later.

    Your theme-parties sound so fun!

    I have a question. Have you mentioned on your blog or, if not, have any of the readers ever read the book From the Amish to the White House? I am interested in reading that book but haven't gotten it yet. I wish our library had it. Chris W.

    1. Yes. I read and enjoyed From the Amish to the White House. If you like stories based on the lives of real people, you may enjoy it.

    2. I've read From the White House to the Amish and I think you will like it too.

    3. OK. Thank you! Chris W.


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