A Reading Streak Concluded…

To read part 2 of this reading streak saga, click here… Now onto part 3!

gospel of mark
The Gospel of Mark

June came, and with it a brief four day foray into the book of Mark. My church had just put on The Mark Drama, and after 6 weeks of memorizing the structure of Mark and talking about Mark and then rehearsing and performing over an intense weekend, it was finally over. Post-production blues had definitely hit, and I was glad to spend just a few more days in the company of this Gospel with Mum. The only reason we read it was because that particular day, Mum had a migraine and we couldn’t find our other book option. So instead, we lay in the dimness of her room, and read Mark. It was a very good call. Mark was always a very special gospel to me because of performing The Mark Drama with my church, but reading it with my Mum just added to the precious memories I have associated with the book.

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no 1 ladies
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

This was the book that brought me through my graduation. Finally, finally, finally! It seemed as if the 6th of July would never come. As I pushed to finish high school, it was a blessing to take 10 minutes of my otherwise jam-packed days and head out to the African bush in my imagination. I would wash dinner dishes Mum read to me, the clamour of my younger siblings on the trampoline floating in through the open door. It was summer by the time this book finished, and we read the last chapter with me in Dublin airport and Mum back at home. With graduation over, the countdown to university was getting lower and lower, and I was headed on a long-anticipated weeklong mission trip to Ireland…

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let me be a woman
Let Me Be a Woman – Elisabeth Elliot

This book will always be inextricably intertwined with Ireland for me. We started this book whilst I was away on my mission trip in that beautiful country full of warm-hearted people that so desperately need the gospel. I would sneak out after team meetings in the evening and sit on the pavement outside the church where we were staying, listening over the phone to Mum read Elliot’s words of wisdom regarding all things womanhood. Or I would perch outside on a windowsill in the fresh morning air, taking 10 minutes to listen to Mum read before the day’s activities started. I’ll confess it was often a struggle to concentrate on what she was reading. My heart and mind were full with the laughter and fellowship that our team shared during that week, but also burdened by the need that we were faced with when doing outreach among the community. I would often have to shake myself out of my wandering thoughts and focus my brain on what Mum was reading to me – after all, it was valuable stuff! 

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screwtape letters
The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

We were down to the last month before I left home… What a month it was! We read Screwtape amidst the busy-ness of it all – a graduation trip to London to see a show in the West End, a goodbye open house where 80 odd people showed up. I also worked a 50 hour work week, packed up my entire life into 3 boxes and 2 suitcases, and went to a youth camp for a few glorious, frantic days. This was a month of transition and change and goodbyes. It was nice to have the anchor of reading with Mum through it all. Every day was one less day at home… But every day also brought a few precious moments to hide ourselves away in my bedroom and read a little bit more about Screwtape and Wormwood. Mum and I both were captured by the genius of this book and encouraged by the wisdom it revealed.

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enjoy your prayer life
Enjoy Your Prayer Life – Michael Reeves

We read this little book over the last few days before I moved into college, during the trip across the ocean and the manic few days shopping and prepping and unpacking and repacking. To be very honest, my memories regarding this book are few. I know it was a punchy and impactful read. But there is only so much your brain can retain when you have moved 5000 miles across the ocean and are just about to step into the new adventure called university.

This I do remember… We finished this book late at night, curled up on an air mattress at my grandparent’s house. The light was bright and I was tired after a busy day. It was a typical scene for us – one that had played out many times during our reading sessions over the past few months.

But this time was different. When Mum read the last page and shut the book, we sat in silence for a moment. We both knew that it was the end of an era. The next day I would move into university, and we would say goodbye. She would fly home, and I would begin my life as a university student. We were standing on the edge of a threshold, and I would be the one to take the step across it, leaving her behind. 

She prayed for me that night. I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I do remember her arms around me, holding me close. 

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Thus ended our 387 day reading streak – over a year without missing a day of reading together. I had no idea when we started reading that hot August afternoon in 2018 just how impactful our reading streak would be for our relationship. We spent a year together in the company of books – stories and wisdom, poetry and gospel. The words that she read to me did more than just entertain and educate me – they served to knit our hearts together in a special and unique way. 

So here’s to my precious Mama and the 387 days in a row that she read to me – each book we read was a joy, but the time we spent together was the far greater gift. ❤

I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have regarding this reading streak! Have you ever done anything similar? Let’s chat in the comments!

A Reading Streak Continued…

Click here if you haven’t read last week’s post all about the beginnings of my reading streak…

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just do something
Just Do Something – Kevin DeYoung

2019 moved forward along with my Senior year. Somehow it was now my spring semester and graduation was starting to loom large. This book came at just the right time. I was grappling with like big decisions about which university to pick and how I could know exactly what God’s will was for my life. The truths that this little book contains hit me hard and at just the right time. It’s crazy how accurate God’s timing is. 😀 

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l'abri
L’Abri – Edith Schaeffer

February rolled around, and with it the long-anticipated of a dear kindred spirit from across the ocean. She brought this book with her and joined in on our reading streak with us. We read this book at the end of many delightful days, lying on the living room floor with colouring books and blankets. One glorious weekend was spent in London, with Mum calling us to read as we sat on sun-dappled wooden floors in a house older than America. This book transported us to a chalet perched on the side of the Swiss Alps, containing a family uniquely dedicated to trusting God and ministering to those God brought in their path. The book was good, but made even sweeter by the company I shared it with for a whole glorious month. ❤

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the art of rest
The Art of Rest – Adam Mabry

My main memory of this book is reading it while sitting in the rain in our family van, just around the corner from my work. Mum would drive me to work 10 minutes early and we would sit and read before I ran off to deal with 30 children for three hours. The irony of the combination of the book’s content matter and my life during that time is not lost on me. It seemed that as we moved into March and spring my life only got busier. Graduating wasn’t an easy task, and life seemed full of busyness. It was good to take the time to read this book and be reminded of just how vital rest is in a Christian’s life. 

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the great adventures of sherlock holmes
The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We then took a break (or perhaps a rest! :D)  from non-fiction and ventured into the mystery genre for the first time. We spent a delightful month solving mysteries along with Sherlock Holmes. It would take us two 10 minute (ish) sessions to finish one chapter mystery, and so we’d have to live in suspense every other day when we stopped in the middle of a chapter. It was a welcome brain relief from the constant pressure that I was finding myself under as I headed rapidly towards exams and graduation. Who knew that murder mysteries could be so amusing? 😀 

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irresistable
Irresistible – Andy Stanley

Easter brought with it a 3 week road trip around Europe, along with this gem of a book. We read it in whispers in a tiny air bnb in Wittenberg, Germany after 16 straight hours in the car. We read it the day I committed to the university I’m now at – during a heavy rainstorm in Prague. I listened to it while curled up in a cosy chalet bedroom surrounded by snowy Austrian Alps. I also listened to it while unconsciously being burnt to a crisp during a swimming break while in Italy. This book will forever be connected to the beauty and history of Europe, though it actually has very little to do with the continent and has far more to do with reclaiming the richness of our Christian faith. 

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freckles
Freckles – Gene Stratton-Porter

Home once again and routine back in place, our next book was this delightful vintage read. Spring was blooming all around and it seemed fitting that this book emphasized nature and the beauty of the natural seasons. As seasons were shifting, both in nature around me and in my own personal life, it was somehow comforting to read the story of this tenacious, tender-hearted one-handed boy and his passion for nature. I also really only remember reading this book in my bedroom, which may contribute to the aura of peace and nostalgia that fills the memories of this book.

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Come back next week to read the final installment of this reading streak series! 

 

 

 

Memories of a Reading Streak

It all started back in the summer of 2018. I was going to be a senior in high school, and I had big plans for my future. Not only was I aspiring to go to university to study English & Biblical Studies, but my chosen university was also 5000 miles across the world in America. (I don’t think that 17 year old me quite realized the magnitude of those plans back then – but that’s irrelevant to this story :D) With my head full of dreams and anticipations, I was in full ‘enjoy summer’ mode, fully aware that this was my last summer before everything in my life changed. My family and I visited the US early in the summer, and while there I picked up a fair few books. The Reading Promise was one of them. 

the reading promise
The Reading Promise – Alice Ozma

This book tells the author’s story of the reading streak that she and her Father shared from the time she was in 4th grade to when she left for college. It’s a beautifully written book, and I, being the reading enthusiast I am, heartily enjoyed it. I then passed it onto my Mum so she could enjoy it. And that was it as far as I was concerned. Read another good book, onto the next one…

A few weeks later, towards the end of the summer, my Mum approached me. “Hey, I was thinking it would be cool to do our own reading streak, like the one in that book,” she proposed. I was intrigued but hesitant. “I think it would be a really cool thing to do for your last year at home,” she continued. “I’m willing to give it a try if you are.”

I had nothing to lose. I liked the idea of reading consistently with my Mum, just like Alice and her Father had. The Reading Promise had whetted my appetite for reading out loud, and the  competitive streak in me liked the idea of seeing how long we could keep the reading streak going. “Sure, let’s do it!” I agreed. 

Little did I know what books the next 387 days of my life would hold in store for me. Nor could I have imagined just how precious that time with my Mum would become. 

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We set up two ground rules before starting our streak. 

  1. Mum always had to read out loud to me. No me reading to her. No listening to audio books. Mum reading to me. 100% of the time.
  2. We had to read for at least 10 minutes a day for it to count. We could read for as long as we wanted, but 10 minutes was the minimum. 

And, as a little guiding principle, we decided to try and alternate between reading fiction and non-fiction.

And so, on August 2nd 2018, my Mum and I began our reading streak. 

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brown girl dreaming
Brown Girl Dreaming – Jaqueline Woodson

It wasn’t exactly the most thrilling of starts. It was a hot afternoon, and Mum had been in bed with a migraine all day. She came down with Brown Girl Dreaming in her hands – “Ready to start?” She asked. And so with that, we started. I was lounging on a mattress that was randomly in our school room, she was sitting up cross-legged on the floor – her reading, me listening. The windows were open and I could hear the shouts of the neighbourhood kids outside. The clatter of the dinner dishes echoed in the kitchen. But I was being swept away to a world of poetry, where words flew like butterflies, sun-warmed and soft to my ears. 

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nurturing the nations
Nurturing the Nations – Darrow L. Miller

By the time we started our next book, Nurturing the Nations, summer was on its way out. I remember reading this book at night, the glare of the living room lights bright against the French doors of the living room that were shut against the dim of evening. The plight of the women recorded in this book was sobering, but the discoveries my Mum and I made together about the roots of feminism were invigorating. What would feminism look like had it not been taken and twisted by the liberals? Would womanhood around the world look different if the original feminists were still around today? The questions this book brought up weren’t easy, but I was glad to be able to navigate them with the woman whose example I respect most in the world.

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a tale of two cities
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

We started A Tale of Two Cities one evening while on our holiday by the sea, in the first week of September. It was my first proper foray into Dickens, and Mum’s first since high school, so we tackled the old language and complex story together. Time passed, and as the story progressed, school started, along with my first official job at an after school club.

I remember many an afternoon where I would get ready for work in my room, as Mum read aloud about the trials and triumphs of Doctor and Lucie Manette. The world of treason and guillotines seemed so far away as I put mascara on and did my hair. But then it would loom scarily close when I would lay on the floor and let the story press heavy on my eyelids. Chapter done, I would remove myself from the dangerous streets of Paris or London, and cycle off downtown to work for the afternoon. 

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war of words
War of Words – Paul David Tripp

Next up was this non-fiction book focusing on communication issues. I struggled listening to this one. For some reason it was hard for me to get into, and I found it easy to drift off on my own brain adventures while Mum read this to me. Fortunately, Mum soon caught onto the fact that I wasn’t clicking with this book, and suggested a change. She suggested that I sit next to her and read over her shoulder while she read to me. Perhaps both hearing and seeing the words might just do the trick. And so it did. I found I could connect far better with what the author was saying, and I also found that he was actually saying some very insightful things. Who’d have thought! 😀 

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mother carey's chickens
Mother Carey’s Chickens – Kate Douglas Wiggin

We didn’t own this delightful book in hard copy, so Mum had to learn how to wrangle my lovely little Kindle in order to read this one. We both became quickly enchanted by the sweet story of a newly fatherless family’s struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. With wise Mother Carey at the helm, her brood of children learn many life lessons along the way. It was often evening when we read this book, and I have memories of hanging up laundry or doing dishes after dinner while Mum read to me. It seemed somehow fitting to do household chores as we read this vintage story of a family forced to work together to keep going after the death of their beloved father and husband. Thankfully my beloved father was still very much alive and would wander in and listen in a slightly amused air as Mum and I read. I don’t think he’s quite learned the art of appreciating Vintage family novels. 😀

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i saw three ships
I Saw Three Ships – Elizabeth Gouge

Before we knew it, Christmas was upon us! My grandparents flew in from the US to celebrate with us, and there was great feasting and merriment in the house. Even sickness couldn’t dampen the joy of the day, and we had a precious few evenings where Mum read this book aloud to all of us. It was but a wee little book, but a sweet read. And it was made sweeter because of the sparkle of Christmas lights, the warmth of blankets, and the presence of three generations of family all together.

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aogg my daughter and me
Anne of Green Gables, my Daughter & Me – Lorilee Craker

I received this book for Christmas and Mum and I began to read it on Boxing Day. As huge AoGG fans, we were immediately enamoured by this book. Though non-fiction, it read like a story. The author expertly weaves together her own life story, along with the life story of L.M. Montgomery, and of course, our beloved (fictional) Anne Shirley. As 2018 turned to 2019, we read this book all over the house – I sprawled across Mum’s bed, sat on the kitchen floor, folded laundry in the living room – all the while listening to this beautiful book unfold. I didn’t want it to finish, and when it did, I immediately started searching for other comparable books. This was one of those beautiful finds that I call ‘literary non-fiction’ – books about books – and it did my heart good…

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This post is getting long, so the saga of my Reading Streak will be continued next week… See you then!!