Perhaps because January was such a successful month for the 50/50 Challenge, February feels like a bit of a failure. Having just barely squeezed in three books, I obviously didn’t reach my goal of a book a week. Even more annoying is the fact that I’ve read hundreds of pages of a horrid Human Resource Management textbook that I won’t be getting Challenge credit for because I just can’t bring myself to read the whole thing. When I had to read it for class I wanted to gouge my eyes out. There is no way I’m going to finish it off just to add it to the my 50/50 book list. Absolutely. No. Way. Besides, I really don’t want my lovely book list dirtied with textbooks I’ve barely tolerated to earn my degree. Instead, I want it to be a reflection of the types of literature I’m truly enjoying at this particular time in my life. Despite my less than stellar performance and all this whining (I really do apologize), my pleasure reading this month has been a pleasure indeed.
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (5/50). This book is based on several talks given by C. S. Lewis over the radio discussing the doctrine of Christian belief. I admit the style of writing took some getting used to. However, once that was conquered, the content of this book stunned me with its brilliance and simplicity. C.S.Lewis somehow takes the fundamental truths of the Christian faith and describes them in thoughtful terms that can be understood by anyone. He begins with an explanation of a universal morality and somehow manages to skillfully cover everything from sin to the real meaning of “loving” your neighbor to the very difficult concepts of a “three-personal God” and God existing outside of our time and space which enables Him to be everywhere and know everything. This is a book heavy with concepts that require comtemplation and meditation. Mere Christianity deserves its place on the list of best Christian books ever written. (5/5 stars)
- The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (6/50). I purchased this book several months ago as part of a Buy 2, Get 1 Free deal at Barnes and Noble and promptly forgot about it. Recently, I read a few reviews of it on Goodreads and decided to pull it out and give it a try. What a lovely, lovely surprise! This is a beautiful, sad story of three generations of women trying to figure out who they are and where they came from. It begins with a four-year old girl, alone on a ship sailing from England to Australia in 1913. Who was she and how did she come to be there? The mystery is intriguing, the characters are interesting, and the writing is very, very good. I don’t want to give away any details for fear of accidentally revealing the mystery. Just read the book. There will be no regrets. I promise. (4/5 stars)
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I had never heard of this book or its author until I joined Goodreads for the 50/50 Reading Challenge. This young adult book is a fairy tale of the highest order. It’s heritage is rooted in Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and The Chronicles of Narnia with just a bit of My Father’s Dragon mixed in. Ms. Valente’s writing is mesmerizing in its descriptiveness. I feel like I was the Ravished Child sent to Fairyland by the Green Wind because I’ve experienced it in gorgeous detail in my mind’s eye. Lovers of fairy tales and fantasy should not miss this book. I loved it. (4.5/5)
I’m definitely feeling like my quality of life is enhanced with the reading I’m doing for this Challenge. Some things I’m reading are forcing me to think deeply, ask questions, and evaluate my position or behavior. Others are blessing me with pure enjoyment, plain and simple – something we all need in this complicated world. I’m being exposed to many, many gifted writers which will hopefully improve my own writing. Participating in this little endeavor has been a great, albeit challenging decision. I suppose that’s why it’s called the 50/50 Reading Challenge, right?