Reading challenges: To do, or not to do

Mid-2015 I stumbled upon a 2015 reading challenge, and I wanted to participate but felt it was too late. Then, just last week, I saw Book Riot’s reading challenge, which immediately reminded me to scope out the various challenges and see if there was one I wanted to participate in.

And now  I feel so overwhelmed.

There are so many to choose from. Book Riot, Popsugar, Challies, BYOB, 12 Classics, Anne of Green Gables, etc, etc.

During my search, I even found an article that said why not to participate in a reading challenge.

So, where am I at now? Well, I’m still deciding.

I really like Popsugar’s just because it’ll help me cover a diverse number of recently-published fiction and nonfiction.

I also like Challies’ because it’ll ensure that I’m also reading Christian books–theology, commentaries, Christian-living, fiction, etc.

I also like the BYOB challenge because it’ll remind me to read the books I own but haven’t read.

And lastly, I like the 12 Months of Classics challenge and the Back to the Classics challenge because they’ll ensure that I’m reading classics, too.

But there’s no chance I could do all of these–and although I could overlap, I don’t want to be so confused, trying to conquer all of them.

So, which one or two will I pick?

I haven’t decided yet, although I might stick with Popsugar’s reading challenge, and then maybe also try to just do the “Light” section of Challies’ challenge. And then maybe I’ll tack on the BYOB challenge, simply because I need to be reading the books I already own.

It still seems a lot to me, but I’ll think on it a bit more and let you all know what I decide once the new year is here!



Dmitri Karamazov: Singing from depths underground

Fyodor Dostoevsky /

I still haven’t finished The Brothers Karamazov, but I now only have 200 more pages to go, and this story is sometimes so frustrating, so tragic, and other times so beautiful.

I don’t want to spoil it, if you haven’t read it. So I’ll only say that here are the words of Dmitri—words I never expected him to say, but words I’m so glad he is saying, for they’re words of truth.

Even there, in the mines, underground, you can find a human heart in the convict and murderer standing next to you, and you can be close to him, because there, too, it’s possible to live, and love, and suffer . . .

It’s impossible for a convict to be without God, even more impossible than for a non-convict! And then from the depths of the earth, we, the men underground, will start singing a tragic hymn to God, in whom there is joy! Hail to God and his you! I love him!”

~from The Brothers Karamazov (Book 11, Chapter 4) by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Though these are Dmitri’s words, I notice the echo of Fyodor Dostoevsky himself, reflecting on his own experience underground in prison. His words speak to all of us, even those not in prison. With the human heart, made in the image of God, we can live and love and suffer. No matter what hardships we face, no matter how far down underground we go, we can still sing a tragic hymn to God because in him is joy.

We Were Liars–it’s all in the title


This post includes spoilers, so if YA and tragedy is your thing, read the book before finishing this post.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart has the great trope of the unreliable narrator. Even with the hint of the title, even with the repetition of the word “lies” and “liar,” I looked and looked for the twist, for the lie, but I never suspected the truth.

Continue reading “We Were Liars–it’s all in the title”

So much homework! Has our society put too much value on it?

I enjoy school … I really do. But today’s Monday, and there’s a lot to be read and a lot to be written and little time to do any of it.

Today I need to finish:

  • reading some flash fiction
  • reading a short story by Stephen King
  • reading some of Dostoevsky’s Brother Karamazov
  • reading some of Frank’s The Mantle of a Prophet
  • writing a flash fiction piece
  • watching a TED talk and writing a response

It’s stuff I enjoy—for the most part—but it’s still a lot and will keep me up late.

But at least I’m in the last year to get my bachelor’s.

Check out Karl Taro Greenfeld’s article “My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me.” Makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe we put too much value on studying at the expense of other things, like time with family and friends.

Read the article and tell me. What do you think?

Senior year studies


I always forget how busy the school semester is — until I’m fighting to swim upstream through the downhill current of readings and writing assignments, and the occasional exam.

For this specific semester, I’m juggling Brothers Karamazov with Stephen King short stories, Shakespeare plays—comedies, histories, and tragedies—along with analyzing rhetorical tools and literary devices while writing arguments and fictional pieces.

It’s busy, but I know that when the semester ends, I’ll miss this time and the homework, stressful though it may be. I like to be pushed to study classical literature and pushed to write, even when I don’t feel like it.

When I’m busy working, I sometimes forget to read, to study, to learn. College is a special time, set aside to learn and grow.

Hopefully I’ll try to remember that as I read through the endless pages and write through the endless assignments.

It’s senior year! Eight more months!

(and that’s only a few of the books I have this semester…it’s many more!)

Summer 2015 Reads

Wondering what I’ve been reading all summer?

Well, here’s a quick recap…

Brothers Karamazov

Most people who know me personally or have seen my tweets know I’ve been slogging through The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

I confess I am only reading this classic of Russian literature because I’m trying to get ahead of the fall school semester. The edition I have is 770 pages of family drama, the depravity of man, and dialogue on the philosophy of life. I’ve recently hit the 400-page mark. My goal is to have it finished before the semester begins…which is only two weeks away. I’m not particularly excited about taking a whole class in the fall just on this one book (and a companion book about the life of Dostoevsky), but I know my friends and professor will undoubtedly make it interesting.

A book I actually completed this summer is The Strange Library by Haruki Marukami. Like the title, it is quite a strange book—not just the plot but even the layout and design! I’ll be posting a more indepth review of it shortly. It was quite interesting, and a short book that I was able to read quickly. Unfortunately, from a bit of quick research I did, it seems that it may not have been the best book of Haruki Marukami’s to start with. Nevertheless, it was an interesting book that I’m happy to have read. I look forward to reading more of his work soon (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and Kafka on the Shore are both on my future reads list.)

Confession: I did read Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen, a Christian regency romance. It’s not my favorite work of Klassen’s, but I do give it points for a twist right in the beginning that I didn’t see coming! I don’t want to give it away, but if you do pick up this book, make sure you read past the first few chapters. Also, there’s a flair of Jane Eyre in it, and although Jane Eyre was never one of my favorites, this novel still gets points for reflecting on some classic literature.

I’m in the middle of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I allowed myself a break from Brothers Karamazov for some fun YA literature. I just started it a couple nights ago, and so far I’m hooked. Look forward to a future review post on this YA novel! For now, I’ll just say that I was intrigued right from the beginning page that had a map of all the family homes on Beechwood Island, along with the intriguing title that keeps me wondering if the first-person narrator is telling the truth.

I also read the first few chapters of The Fold by Peter Clines, a book I received from Blogging for Books. The first chapter actually had me frightened, which books don’t often do to me, so that alone has me excited to read more. Sadly, I haven’t finished it yet due to The Brothers Karamazov, but once I do, I’ll post a review.

Early on this summer, I did finish the fun scrapbook-style book Go Ahead and Like it by Jacqueline Suskin. It’s a short, fun book that helped me remember to appreciate life. Read my full review about it here.

I have also picked up Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon. I haven’t read much of it at all, but so far this biography has been engaging. I read both Wollstonecraft and Shelley in a lit class a few years back, and it’s been interesting to remember their literature in light of the life story.

For my daily devotions, I have been working through Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom. It’s in a workbook format, which is great because it forces me to take extra time with my devotions and actually meditate upon God’s Word. If your devotions or your walk has gone dry, perhaps consider getting this book. It walks you through various aspects of your walk with God, helping you saw the truth in Scripture and apply it personally to your own life and relationship with God. I’m still working through it, but it’s been great so far.

I have also been reading—no, skimming—Lies Women Believe (and the Truth that Sets Them Free) also by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s a book the ladies in my church have been going through. I typically forget to read it before the study, so I end up doing a mad skim—often on the way to the study if I’m not the one driving! It’s a great book with a great apply/review section in each chapter. DeMoss depends on Scripture throughout the book, which is just how it should be.

I also picked up The Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney. I’ve started this book before but hadn’t finished it. I still haven’t finished it, but I did enjoy reading a chapter of it during a Sunday afternoon. It has short, easy chapters, and easily communicates Biblical truths. Mahaney calls Christians to remember and rely upon that which is foundational to their conversion and their faith.

I always have great endeavors to read, although I often don’t actually get around to it … here’s one of the book piles currently in my bedroom:


Summer 2015: Editorial Internship

summer2014edinternartIt’s been a full month since my last post, and two and a half  months since the post previous to that. Sorry. I’ve had a busy summer, and here’s one thing I did this summer:

Just three days ago I completed my editorial internship with Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). I worked with editors and designers in their publishing services department as well as their textbook development and publishing arm, Purposeful Design Publications.

I got to practice editing articles and getting feedback from an editor with years of experience in the field. We developed a little system where he would send me an article, I would go through it at least 2–3 times, thoroughly editing it, then after I sent it back to him, he would compare it with the original, then meet with me to discuss my editorial decisions. Needless to say, I had a great time working on the Christian School Education magazine.

I also got to see the huge process of textbook development, particularly revisions of elementary math curriculum. The process if huge, and there are so many things that need to be tracked, checked, and double checked. Just a few weeks in, I realized why textbooks cost so much—the work involved to get an accurate, helpful, and user-friendly textbook is enormous.

Here’s a list of some of the things I helped with on the textbooks:

  • Checking to make sure that the answers listed for the exercises are correct
  • Checking to make sure that the answers listed in the Teacher Edition matches what exercises are actually listed in the Student Edition
  • Checking and documenting research for all uncommon facts listed in the textbooks
  • Checking that lesson titles are the same in the Student Edition and Teacher Edition
  • Checking that titles of supplemental materials have also stayed the same
  • Checking that the Teacher Edition adheres to the textbook style guide, including
    • Sidebars have correct titles
    • Sidebars are in correct order
    • Sidebars are correct length
    • Chapter prep page materials match lesson pages
    • Font roman, italicized, or bold
    • Font size, color
    • Wording, such as “instruct students” vs. “direct students”

That’s nowhere close to everything that is checked, but you get an idea of the detail involved in this process. Additionally, each chapter goes through three heavy edits. Textbook editors are busy and concerned with a number of small details that make it easier for both the teacher and the student.

I did a bunch of other stuff during the internship, but there’s at least a taste of some of the stuff I got to do during my 40 hours/week internship with ACSI. It was hard to be indoors during the summer, but the valuable time I spent working with editors and learning from them was it well worth it.