The Empty Bookshelf Challenge

Dear friend and awesome author, Susie Finkbeiner introduced me to the Empty Bookshelf Challenge this year through her blog. This was started by Jon Acuff and I think it’s absolutely brilliant!

If you’re following me on Goodreads, you may have seen the list I’ve been building over the past six months. You are supposed to empty a shelf in your house and fill it with the books you’ve read from December 31, 2013 to December 31, 2014.

I did have empty shelves on Dec.29th,  but they
were quickly filled after unpacking my books.

I don’t have a house, I just have a room with not a lot a shelves in it so I thought I’d just keep a list running on Goodreads instead.

So here at the half-way point of this challenge, I can tell you that I have read a lot more than I did the year before… mainly because 2013 was the year of the  undergrad thesis. Sure I read a lot for that, but it was journals and historical documents and my own writing. Bleh.

I have LOVED having the freedom to educate myself again and have been reading many varied things as a result.

So I thought I would break down some of my favorites from the year so far.

Letters and Life–Bret Lott
A dear friend introduced me to the world of Lott telling me that she luffed him. Not love, luf. It’s much deeper.

Well I luf him now too! This book is a wonderful collection of essays on Lott’s musings on being a writer and a Christian. I loved his essay on precision–wonderful subject to think on while drafting a novel. Reading it to the student writing group I am a part of produced some great discussion.

His essay on Flannery O’Connor is a great tribute to the short-story goddess. The friend who introduced me to Lott told me upon reading it that everything he says about O’Connor can be said about him. I have to agree. He has developed the wonderful talent to get out of the way of his writing and let is stand on its own legs.

Great writer with some great thoughts!

Fool–Christopher Moore
There is a stigma that the works of Shakespeare have come to own. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s just something I’ve observed. We look at them like this hallowed tombs that cannot be touched by any writer before or sense.

Poppycock! And Christopher Moore has written the book to prove it!

Fool is a retelling of King Lear from the perspective of the fool. Moore presents the tale to a modern reader as Shakespeare did to his audiences. Bawdy humor mixed with wordplay and obvious symbolism. His sensitivity to what Shakespeare was trying to do is carried through to perfection–to entertain. This book is witty, thought-provoking and just fun.

Idiot Psalms–Scott Cairns
Switching up my regular intake of fiction with some poetry, Like Lott, I found Cairns at Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing and LOVED his work.

Idiot Psalms is a collection of musings on life and God and scripture. Throughout the collection are sprinkled the Idiot Psalms. Written in the style of the biblical Psalms, Cairns explores the trials and trivialities of every-day-life. My personal favorite is Idiot Psalm 3 which he wrote during an English division meeting at the university at which he teaches.

These are just a few examples of what I’ve taken in the last six months. I’m excited to pick up the pace and read more in the back half of this year.

What book have you read this year that stick out in your mind? Please share! I’d love recommendations for the next six months of reading.

4 thoughts on “The Empty Bookshelf Challenge

  1. I went to Meijer in search of four-colored Bic pens. I had no intention of buying a book, but as I was browsing I found a book called, A Distant Land by an author named Matt Braun. I went home I felt compelled to look through my belongings (I am a pack rat, so I keep my stuff in boxes and plastic tubs), and I discovered a book I had bought also written by him called, How To Write Western Novels. All of this came about by a simple find that I wasn't expecting.


  2. Idiot Pslams sounds great! I too have read more this year, but I don't have college work from last year to blame… I finished the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Wow! Insightful. Also read Eric Metaxes' Amazing Grace (I love historical nonfiction, can you tell?) Also Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. Those 3 stand out so far.


  3. I have heard wonderful things about Eric Metaxes. His Bonhoeffer biography is definitely on my list.
    'Soul Keeping' was a GREAT book.
    If you pick up 'Idiot Psalms,' let me know what you think!


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