We wanted to pick up a new puzzle to work on, after *finally* finishing the Thomas Kincaid puzzle that was a pastel, fuzzy-edged nightmare to complete. We wanted something brightly colored, easy, and fun. This puzzle of 50 Great American Novels was just the thing! In fact, we started and completed it in one day!
After we finished it, we decided that it would be fun to turn this experience into a challenge. We both want to read more literature and classics, and enjoy reading books together. We also think it would be fun to explore them more academically and Donald suggested that we could even write little book reports on them and discuss the major themes and ideas that resonated with us.
We have each read a selection of the books already, but decided for the purposes of this challenge, we would re-read books and read them at the same time as each other.
Books Jenn has previously read:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Books Donald has previously read:
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
We love making choices using random methods. For selecting which book to read next (and subsequent books), we took a photo of the poster that came with the puzzle, printed it out, cut each book apart, folded it up and stuck it in a large jar, which Donald then proceeded to vigorously shake around. Then, I picked one without looking, and we unfolded it together.
Our first read is going to be Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut!
Keep an eye out for our review of this book after we have completed it!
A lot of people on YouTube are doing this Do I Have That Book? Challenge. The premise is that you have a list of 20 questions and you have to search your bookshelves to find books that meet the criteria within the shortest amount of time.
Challenge Questions: 1. Do you have a book with deckled edges? 2. Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover? 3. Do you have a book based on another fictional story? 4. Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long? 5. Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter? 6. Do you have a Mass Market Paperback book? 7. Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name? 8. Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title? 9. Do you have a book with 2 maps in it? 10. Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show? 11. Do you have a book written by someone who is originally famous for something else? (celebrity/athlete/politician/tv personality…) 12. Do you have a book with a clock on the cover? 13. Do you have a poetry book? 14. Do you have a book with an award stamp on it? 15. Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you? 16. Do you have a book of short stories? 17. Do you have a book that is between 500-510 pages long? 18. Do you have a book that was turned into a movie? 19. Do you have a graphic novel? 20. Do you have a book written by 2 or more authors?
Video is not my preferred medium, but I did complete this challenge. Here are my receipts:
9. Do you have a book with 2 maps in it? Yes! Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff has several maps throughout!
10. Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show? Not that I could find during the challenge, although after the fact, I probably could have also used City of Bones for this prompt, too.
12. Do you have a book with a clock on the cover? Not that I could find.
13. Do you have a poetry book? Not that I could find.
14. Do you have a book with an award stamp on it? I’m sure I do somewhere, but after spending too much time looking, I gave up.
I finished my challenge in 12 minutes, 18 seconds and had a score of 16/20! Please link your video/post in the comments; I’d love to see how you did!
A friend recommended a book to me, “Making It Happen” by Lara Casey. As I was looking into the book, I found that it was part of a larger program to help you live more intentionally and realize your goals. The more I read, the more I wanted to try her whole program, so I ordered the Powersheets bundle with her book. Not being patient enough to wait for the order to come in, I also got the Audible version and listened to this in the car during my commutes to and from work.
I absolutely loved it! She does an amazing job of weaving together advice and personal testimony while keeping your primary focus on what God wants for your life.
I identified strongly with Lara herself, and a lot of her personality traits are my own, so her advice based on her experience was immediately relatable to my own life.
There are 7 initial steps to get ready to Make It Happen.
Step 1: Evaluate Where You Are
The very first thing you do in your Powersheets is to fill out a page about yourself. After your name, it says, “I am a (thing beyond a job title here) ___.” I filled in that blank with “joyful mess!” I guess that’s the best descriptor I have for myself at the moment. Things to tend to be pretty messy and haphazard in my world (which hopefully will be helped this year), but I do tend to be optimistic and joyful, no matter what happens.
After this, I wrote, “In the past, I have ignored, neglected, and put off many things I needed to do but now, I’m ready to make a plan, evaluate what’s important, and MAKE IT HAPPEN! The things I value most are the people I love, God, and my faith.”
Three words that describe me: fun-loving, extroverted, and enthusiastic.
My home/personal space is usually lived in, chaotic, and a MESS! (Probably my mom’s fault… After all, she used to call me Mess Anne growing up….)
If I could have someone else’s job for a day, I would be a travel photographer.
My favorite song right now is Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” But check back in a couple days and it’ll likely be something else.
Person I would most like to meet: Right now, I’d most like to meet Lara Casey. I think we would become friends. 🙂
I get most fired up when someone encourages me or I’m challenged or pushed to soar. I’m fairly extroverted, so it makes sense to me that I find strength and motivation from other people.
I get along best with people who – yeah, I checked off every option there. I love people!
My best memories involve spending time with friends and family, experiencing something new, and doing an activity that I love.
I accomplish things best when: (1) I have a cheerleader rooting me on, (2) someone else depends on me, or (3) I give myself a deadline. The only one I didn’t check was the one that says, “I have quiet time and space to think,” because I am awful about sitting still. I never do it. I am horrible at meditation and listening to God. But I know that I need to grow in this area. Still, it’s important to know how I’m best motivated, especially as I try to stick to the plans which I’m making now.
Things I love to do:
Be with other people
Dance + listen to music
Give random gifts
Make others happy
I am most grateful for (in no particular order):
The people God has brought into my life
My cheerful disposition
God’s faithfulness and love
My job and boss
My best friend
It is good to take these steps, these minutes, to reflect upon who I am, what I love, and what motivates me. It’s part of the process to determine what is really important in my life. I only have so much time and energy. If I waste it on something that I don’t really value, then what was the point? I’d be much better off to allocate my resources to things and people that are important to me.
Step 2: Plant the Seeds
I’ve made 12 categories of things that I’d like to work on in the next year:
Step 3: Clear the Clutter
This section tells you to write down everything that is distracting you or holding you back from realizing your goals. In addition to knowing what’s important to you, what motivates you, and what you want to accomplish, it is good to know what obstacles are in your way. If you are aware of them, you can plan for them (to an extent).
For me, some of my pitfalls are if I am not feeling well or if I let myself become distracted or sidetracked. Plus, I also have a tendency to allow one “mess-up” to completely derail me. Right now, I don’t feel prepared for the next year and the challenges I’ve set for myself. But that’s okay. I don’t have to have the entire year figured out by tomorrow. I *can* figure it out as I go.
I want to change my thinking from “chasing perfection” to “chasing progress.”
Step 4: Meet Your Fears
I don’t have a ton of fears. The couple that I came up with are that I’m afraid that I’ll burn out or compromise my health, as I have a tendency to take on too much, work too hard, and not leave any time for myself to rest and recharge. I’m also afraid that I won’t follow through and that I’ll be in exactly the same place in all of these areas this time next year.
Step 5: Watch the Powersheets Video
There’s SO MUCH great information on her site, LaraCasey.com. Some of the things that stayed with me as I watched was that it’s okay to make a mess. She was talking of working in your Powersheets, but I take it to mean anywhere along this process. The Powersheets, my planners… All of these things are just tools, things that help me. I shouldn’t be concerned about keeping my tools pretty. I just want to make my life beautiful — for myself, and so that I can me a mirror of God’s grace and love to others. At the end of the day (or year), who cares what my planner looks like, or if my handwriting was bad? These things are not ultimately important. If I end the year having grown in faith and love and as a person, then my year will have been a success.
In doing her Powersheets, Lara got on her knees and read Scripture. I need this kind of inspiration. To have God be such a central part of my life. She recalled a passage in the Bible, right before Jesus selected the Twelve. In order to make good decisions, Jesus first spent the entire evening in prayer to the Father. Grounding yourself in prayer and the Word is so important.
In one of her Periscope videos, she talks of the song, Oceans:
While I was waiting for Oceans to load on YouTube, I had to watch an advertisement. It was for Zootopia, and during the ad there was the quote, “No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you.” Which is SO appropriate for today and for this project!
Step 6: Decide You Can
This is a very long section in the Powersheets. Basically, you write out what has been working and what hasn’t, what you would like to prune from your life, and what you would like to cultivate. Then, you decide on goals (which I’ve written above). Remind yourself of what you want to achieve and why.
Step 7: Set Purposeful Goals
This is where you break down your goals into actionable baby steps, so that you have something concrete to work on and a way to measure progress on your goal. I am really glad that Lara has you revisit and tweak these goals every 3 months. It will help me re-commit to them (or refine/delete/replace them if that’s appropriate) and also see where I am, like a report card.
I’m so excited for this year and hope that you are as well!
I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions a bit this past week. I love fresh starts: New Year, First Day of School, Advent, Lent… and I love making plans for these new starts. But I find that I tend to lack the discipline to follow the plan all the way through. I think because it’s *my* plan and I’m only accountable to myself. I’m very good at rationalizing my way out of my own plans. I know what arguments will sway me.
What if this year I didn’t make any “Resolutions”? Sure, I’ll still make a few plans and try out new things, but…
I think I’ll accept challenges instead!
I’m pretty competitive by nature and I like completing challenges. Plus, then I’m accountable to whoever gives me the challenge.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!
The calling birds represent the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and their Gospel accounts.
The suggested activity for today is to call at least four friends that you have been meaning to contact but haven’t gotten around to doing. As for me, I think that I will send a note in the mail and be truly old-fashioned. 🙂 So, four of you, watch your mailbox!
I love my friends for many reasons. One of my very good friends has an awesome sense of humor and frequently makes me grin for hours thinking of our back-and-forth banter.
I usually get him and his housemates candy for Halloween. Since I can’t expect them to be any good at sharing… [I once brought a dozen donuts for the guys to share and gave them to my friend. He said, “Oh! 11 for me, and the other guys can split the remaining one!”] …I get them each their own plastic pumpkin filled with goodies.
And I spend hours — really, hours — separating all the candy into each pumpkin. Making sure that each guy gets exactly the same number of each candy as the other guys. Even down to color. Wouldn’t want there to be any fights because someone got 11 red and 9 yellow candies and someone else got 9 red and 11 yellow candies.
Because, obviously, they would be all fighting and pouting, or whatever. And we can’t have that.
But this year, I decided to offer a choice.
Me: And do you guys want tricks… or treats?
Clearly, this was just an autotext fail. Clearly. But it made me laugh for about 10 minutes straight. 🙂
Sorry that I haven’t posted too much lately. I have a good excuse though. I’ve had meningitis. It totally sucks. But I’m getting better, thanks be to God. While I’ve been out — not counting the couple of weeks where all I could do is lie there and stare at the ceiling — I’ve been able to read a plethora of books. I even finished my Quarterly Challenge #10 with a couple days to spare! 🙂
Note: Books listed in italics are ones that I *plan to read* for the particular category. Books listed in regular font *I have read*.
Duration: September 1, 2013 – November 30, 2013
We are a YA Book Club, so all books should be young adult (unless otherwise noted).
You have 3 months to read 10 YA books that satisfy following requirements:
1) Read a book that is a new release published in September, October or November of 2013. GoodReads offers lists of the most popular new releases by month, they might help you to make your choices – September, October and November (If you have difficulties obtaining these new books, you can read a release from the same months in 2012). Allegiant by Veronica Roth
2) September 22-28 is Banned Books Week. Celebrate your freedom to read by reading a book that has been banned and/or challenged in any country. The American Library Association has several lists available, but you do not have to read from those lists nor does the book have to be YA.
1984 by George Orwell, completed 9/6
We are a YA Book Club, so all books should be young adult.
You have 3 months to read 10 YA books that satisfy following requirements:
1) Read a book that from ALA’s 2013 Teens’ Top Ten Nominations list. The list can be found here. If you find nothing you want to read on that list, you may read from other other years. The full list is here.
2) Read a book that is a new release published in June, July, or August of 2013. GoodReads offers lists of the most popular new releases by month, they might help you to make your choices – June, July, or August (If you have difficulties obtaining these new books, you can read a release from the same months in 2012).
3) Read a book set in summer or that has a summery cover (beach and such).
4) Read a book whose title starts with one of the letters of the word SUMMER.
5) Read a classic title.
6) Read a book with a cover that does not have a person on it. [This may be harder than you think!]
7) Read a book that involves traveling: a road trip, a trip or moving to another state, country, or continent.
8) Read a book that is funny.
9) Read an author’s debut novel (a list of this year’s debut authors can be found here.)
10) Read a book which is a 5-star favorite of one of your GoodReads friends (if you’ve yet to make any GoodRead’s friends, choose a 5-star favorite of a co-moderator – and friend them if you want!)
And, as a reminder to me, I should post my progress on their page. I’m not sure how Goodreads tracks this…. 🙂
I’ll try to keep this post updated with my progress, as well!
2) Read a book that is a new release published in March, April or May of 2013. GoodReads offers lists of the most popular new releases by month, they might help you to make your choices – March, April and May (If you have difficulties obtaining these new books, you can read a release from the same months in 2012).
3) April is National Poetry Month. Read a book that is written in verse. See here and here for suggestions.
4) Read a book whose title starts with one of the letters of the word SPRING.
5) Go local and read a book that is written by an author who lives in your local area (state, county, province, or city).
6) The end of May marks the beginning of the astrological sign, Gemini. To celebrate, read a book featuring twins as primary or secondary characters. Some ideas here and here.
7) Read one of the 10 books that have been on your to-read list the longest.
8) Read a science fiction, dystopian, or steampunk book Insurgent by Veronica Roth
9) Read a book with a silhouette or shadow on the cover. Ideas can be found here and here.
10) Read a book written by a male author Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Start Date: February 25, 2013
End Date: May 31, 2013
Although the challenge end date is rapidly approaching, I think it is fair to use any book which I have completed during the timeframe of the challenge. 🙂 As I look, it doesn’t appear that I have a lot of books which meet the criteria, as most of them are either straight-up adult books and not YA, or children’s books. Nertz.
Keep checking back as I update the list with the books that I have read to complete the challenge! 🙂