Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Sisters' Spring Reading Challenge

 Here is the report of our spring reading. Both of us were exceptionally busy, but that doesn't mean we couldn't find time to read!

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Sisters' Spring Reading Challenge

1. Read a classic you think you should have read. 

Charity- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

This book has been on my TBR list for a while and I was delighted for an excuse to read it. The reader is transported to a factory town in England during the 1800s. In the story, Gaskell explores the conflict that often occurred between mill owners and their employees. Caught in the middle is Margaret Hale, a young woman that has been transplated from a totally different lifestyle. I appreciated learning about another place, time period, and social struggle. The plot, though sad, is also beautiful and sweetened with just enough hope.

Gina - The Enchanted April - Elizabeth Von Arnim - I tried to read this book a few years ago but quit because I didn't like the negative view of marriage that the book began with. But I tried again and found I had quit too soon. Four women who are disastified about their lives (including their husbands) rent a castle in Italy for a month. The book maybe ends a little too glibly, but I loved the sweetness that each woman found in their relationships by the end of the book. I listened to The Literary Life podcast discussion of The Enchanted April which brought out insights I would have never seen on my own.

2. Read a verse novel or a book of free verse poetry. 

Charity - A Symphony in Sand by Calvin Miller
I don’t think I can even describe this free verse novel. The words were beautiful and I wanted to soak up the delight of it. It is an allegorical poem about a young couple whose plans to marry are shaken by a greater Will. I felt as though I was reading the story of Mary and Joeseph and their potential turmoil from another vantage point. Maybe someday I will enjoy more of Miller’s Symphony series.

Gina - The Finale by Calvin Miller - This is the third book in Miller's Singer trilogy. This one is based on end times in Revelation. I like how Miller makes me think of Bible passages in new ways, but this is probably my least favorite of his books that I've read. It is just hard to beat A Symphony in Sand.

3. Ask a friend to pick a book for you--and read it.

Charity - Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce

This sequel to Dear Mrs Bird was pure joy to my heart. After Pearce left me in the lurch after her first book, I was excited  to know what the future was for our heroine. If you enjoy WW2 novels you will definitely need to add these to your list and find time for the charm, tears, and laughter that the author gifts you. My favorite part is that I can recommend it as a very clean novel! 

Gina -The Sound of the Page by Ben Yagoda 

I was studying writing style for a workshop and a friend gave me this book. Yadoda interviewed numerous authors and asked them about writing style. I took pages of notes and recommend it to any reader who wishes to learn more about writing style.

4. Read a book that has siblings as the main characters. 

Charity- My book for this category was disappointing. As I read it I was amazed by the skill of the author and the beautiful way he wove words together and created his plot. But the excessive profanity and a few scenes ruined it. 

Gina - A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus 

This is sweet middle-grade story of three orphans who leave London during the bombing of World War 2 and hope to find their forever home in the country. Maybe everything worked out a little too much like a fairy tale, but I loved the role that books and the library play in the story. Perfect to read aloud to your children.

5. Read a book about a less famous historical event.

Charity - Peony by Pearl S. Buck
I found this book on my pile of unread books and was overjoyed that it was about a time and place in history that I knew nothing. Based in China during the 1850s, I never realized that Jews had emigrated to China to find a better life. The book explores the struggle to maintain their religion and traditions while living in a different culture. Through the eyes of a young Chinese bondmaid in a Jewish family, Buck shows how a people became one with the culture around them until nothing was left of their heritage. 

Gina - The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews
I never knew that German U-boats stalked American ships in the Gulf of Mexico, within sight of the shore. The author found Nazi artifacts buried in his backyard which sent him on history research journey. He wrote this novel based on the amazing story he uncovered. A little preachy at spots, but kept me gripped to the end. 

6. Read a book that has an elderly person a main character.

Charity - Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
Any excuse to read another Dickens will always be accepted. This particular book is unique in that we get a glimpse of the United States through the eyes of Dickens. Though much of the criticism is lost on me since I didn't live in that time, it was still fun to read what he had to say. Though hard to get into at first, this novel of family conflict, greed, and pride will having you turning pages if you only give it a chance. And never be sure that you know the ending! 

Gina - The Last Book Shop in London by Madeline Martin
I didn't plan to get on a World War 2 binge this spring, but this was the third, and maybe my favorite set during this time in history. A young woman from the country finds a job in London working for a grumpy old book seller right before the start of the Blitz. Well researched and such a fun celbration of the power of books. 

7. Read from a book before picking up your phone in the morning.

Charity - My normal morning routine is to turn off my alarm, dress, and leave my phone in my room until after breakfast, devotions, and a few moments with a book. I strongly recommend keeping your phone from taking precious reading time! 

Gina - I typically don't pick up my phone until after I've read my Bible in the morning, but I rarely read other books in the morning. But I have the habit every night of plugging my phone in the dining room, then doing my bedtime routine (which includes reading!) without any phone distraction. If you have trouble finding time to read, try losing your phone every day for an hour or two.

8. Copy a poem (or write one) and hang it where you will see it.

Charity - I found one of my brother’s poems and enjoyed reading it many times around Easter. Maybe I found even more joy in it because I knew whose words they were. I can give him much credit for helping me learn to appreciate poetry.

Gina- I've shared a few weeks ago how I copied out several prayer hymns and propped them where I could see them. I think this is a practice I'll continue.

We'd love to hear what you read this spring!


  1. Funnily enough, just yesterday I went to the library and picked up both Yours Cheerfully and The Sound on the Page!

  2. My spring reading didn't go as well as I would have liked because of my naughty habit of starting a book before finishing the previous book. I didn't do all the challenges because of that so I will write what I read or is still reading.
    Read a verse novel or book of free verse poety: I read Evangeline by H.W. Longfellow. It was sad but I loved reading it but it was rather long. And I suppose it could count as a classic I should read.
    A book that has siblings as main characters: I am still trying to finish Little Women.
    Read a book before picking up your phone in the morning.: I did fairly well with this one. I put whatever book I was reading near the my phone so I would see the book first.

  3. I discovered your blog because we were both listed in "15 Best Mennonite Mom Blogs/Websites" and your blog is #1. Congratulations. I am amazed at how much reading you have been able to do. And I admire your discipline in prioritizing reading and devotions over the phone, especially in the mornings and evenings.

  4. I didn't manage to do quite all the challenges, but I love how this challenge is more doable for me than the DOP one--I always end up having some books I read alongside even if they don't fit a challenge prompt. One of my favorites this spring was "In the Arena" by Isobel Kuhn. It was old enough to count as a classic, and I had had it on my shelf for years intending to read it "right about as soon as I'm done with my current book." But now was the perfect time to read it--the stories of small and large tests in a missionary's life, and how they enriched her. It echoed current experiences of my own.

  5. Such lovely suggestions for books - I'm especially keen on the WW2 books but there are lots of great titles here.
    Thank you 😊

  6. Thanks for hosting these reading challenges! I was happy to accomplish the spring list and have started on the summer list now. For spring, I read Jane Eyre, Brown Girl Dreaming, Gone Fishing and Gone Camping, The Lifegiving Home, The Miracle of Miss Willie, Noise in the Night and Facing the Fugitive, 90 Miles to Havana, and The One-in-a-Million Boy. Thanks for the nudge to read more!


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