Midsummer heat makes my life complete. I do my outdoor chores in the morning and in the afternoon, with or without air conditioning, I read.
Word of the Month
Bible Verse of the Month
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
– Nehemiah 8:10
This month’s reading diary is at the bottom of this page, after the book list.
My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/lindajm
☆ – I own the book and am ready to read.
★ – I’m reading it.
✓ – I finished reading it. Yay!
⇗ – Still reading at the end of the month.
DNF – I did not like it or finish it.
∅ – Stalled – I started but didn’t finish.
↓ – I didn’t even start. Complete fail!
My July reading goals:
1. The 2022 Visual Theology Christian Reading Challenge – This is the time of year when I have to re-evaluate my progress on my annual reading challenge, to make sure I’m reading books that cover all the remaining prompts. On the #VTreadingchallenge I still have 31 prompts and I will focus my reading in on those.
2. California Reading and Writing Challenge – I still have some reading prompts to complete for my California challenge. I need to decide what else I need to read, to finish that.
3. 2022 Newbery Challenge – I’ve been doing a Newbery challenge this year and I have only two more books to read for that. They will be on this month’s reading list.
4. Priorities – Continue with focusing on only 3 books at a time: one audio, one Kindle, and one physical book. This is working well for me.
Books I’m reading for the 2022 VT Reading Challenge
I’ve finished 70 books for this annual challenge and have 34 yet to read. I was given a list of 104 prompts and each book has to fit one of the prompts. The full name of the challenge is the Visual Theology Christian Reading Challenge. The books do not all have to be Christian books – there can be secular books read as well. Here are the books I want to read this month to make progress on the remaining 34 prompts.
✓ Art: Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic, by Lisa Congdon
Well obviously, I like to read about creativity, so this library book came home with me. – This book will count toward my VT Reading Challenge as “a self-improvement book” LOL … I don’t need help with relationships anymore but I still need help with my creativity! UPDATE: What tiny lettering this book has! It was very hard to read. However I read the whole thing anyway and learned a few things and got some valuable inspiration for my own art experiments. Here’s my review at Goodreads. Four stars. The great thing about this book is that it got me out of my art doldrums. I suddenly decided to create one piece of art daily and for that I’m using a set of prompts I wrote for writing a long time ago: 365 Prompts for Art, Journaling, or Creative Writing. To be honest, all I’ve produced so far is junk, trash, and jokes. That’s how I see my art. But I have hope and expectation that if I continue creating a daily work of art (of questionable value, or whatever) I will see improvement in developing my own personal style of art. Right now I’m focusing on watercolor based mixed media (pens on top of watercolors) and each of my pictures includes a human being. Thus far. I may change subject matter later. Right now I’m trending toward people, birds, and buildings. I love quaint architecture like the building pictured at the top of this page.
☆ Christian Fiction: Her Mother’s Hope, by Francine Rivers
This is the last book I need to read to complete the Christian Fiction Reading Challenge. Also, it will count toward my VT Reading Challenge as “a book over 400 pages” … I need to get with it and read it. I started a few weeks ago and got totally sucked in within 2 pages then put it aside for a time I could focus on it more because I know it will be good.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: I still haven’t started reading this because I’m reading The Shirley Letters in paperback right now. So many books, so little time!
★ Nonfiction: An Essential Guide to Public Speaking: Serving Your Audience With Faith, Skill, and Virtue, by Quentin J. Schultze
This book was written for Christians. I honestly have almost no interest in public speaking, but it might help with my video making. I’m reading it mainly because the VT Reading Challenge challenged me to read “A book about public speaking,” and this is the book I came up with to fulfill that prompt. Prompt #55. I have an audio copy. I usually prefer to read nonfiction books in physical form, not digital, but I’m making an exception because I don’t want to buy another book right now. (I know, weird, right?) I already had Audible audiobook credits so I got it there.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: I have surreptitiously listened to a few chapters of this audiobook when needing a change of pace. I don’t usually read nonfiction via audio, but it was the least expensive way for me to get a copy. So far, seems like a good book and it is giving me ideas about speaking on videos, not actually in public meetings.
✓ Nonfiction: All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot
Prompt #56 of the VT Reading Challenge is to “read a book about animals or geography.” Have you ever tried to find a good book you want to read about geography? Obviously, I’m choosing animals! I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. Don’t know why I’ve waited this long. I downloaded an audiobook copy from Overdrive.
Update 7/6: Lovely, lively book full of difficult men, offbeat women, some unexpected humor and occasionally, animals in need of expert medical care. This is much more a people story rather than an animal story. I’m loving the brotherly relationship of Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, and the bookkeeper! This is a book about rural English life, with a few veterinarians thrown in.
Update 7/12: I’ve finished reading this impressive book about rural people in the Yorkshire countryside and their animals and their veterinarian. What a lovely reading experience this has been. Each chapter tells a story about some incident of (usually) veterinary care in the life of Mr. Herriot. Here’s my review at Goodreads. Five stars.
DNF – Dystopian YA: Winter, by Marissa Meyer
This is book four of the Lunar Chronicles. I’m reading it for VT Reading Challenge prompt #61, “A dystopian novel OR a book of comics.” This is dystopian. I enjoyed the first three novels in the series.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: I quickly grew bored and DNF’ed this – especially after seeing how long it was – something like another 27 hours of a book I wasn’t entirely enjoying. No thanks. I enjoyed the first three books in the series during previous years… but it is so YA.
✓ – Christian Dystopian YA: A Time to Die, by Nadine Brandes
Book one in the Out of Time series. Listening via Audible audiobook. Loving it.
UPDATE – I finished this on July 20. Great audiobook narration. Fascinating dystopian… YA Christian. Here’s my Goodreads review. 5 stars.
★ Bible Study: The Book of Romans Bible Study Journal, by Darlene Schacht
I’ve been reading this for a while now, slowly… it is for VT Reading Challenge prompt #23, “A book about a book of the Bible.” I’m nearly done now – in the part about Romans 12.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: I should bite the bullet and just finish this. At least, I should make some progress one of these days.
☆ Memoir: Driving Miss Norma: An Inspirational Story About What Really Matters at the End of Life Paperback, by Tim Bauerschmidt
I’ll be reading this for VT Reading Challenge prompt #15 – “A book recommended by a family member.”
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: Haven’t started yet. It is a physical book and I’m reading only one of those at a time, and right now, I’m half-way through The Shirley Letters.
✓ Christian Fiction: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, by Sara Brunsvold
This is about a Christian woman who is dying in a nursing home. It fits for VT Reading Challenge prompt #80, A book about Christian living.
UPDATE: Wow, what an amazing book. A newspaper reporter, Aidyn, is given the assignment to interview Clara Kip, an elderly woman dying in a hospice care facility. She doesn’t expect the impact this encounter will have on her life. Clara will show her as she shows us, what it means to live a humble Christian life serving others with Christ’s love. I love this book! Here’s my Goodreads review. Five stars.
✓ Memoir: Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation, by Erika Krouse
This memoir is about a woman with the gift of being the kind of person people want to tell their secrets to, thus she becomes a private eye. She investigates a rape case involving college football players, so I used this as my book for VT Reading Challenge prompt #99 – a book about sports or an athlete.
Update: I finished audio-reading this on July 26. Great memoir – kept my interest. My review. Five stars.
For my California reading and writing challenge
1. Write about a California travel experience.
2. Read a gold rush memoir.
★ History: The Shirley Letters, by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe
I’ve wanted to read this for years, so the time has come.
Update 7/6: As of today I’ve read five of the letters, out of twenty-three. I’ve learned a bit about dangerous travel situations, the history of Rich Bar, California, some of the architectural highlights of the area in 1851 when these letters were written, a terrible accident that left a young man maimed for life, another accident that killed a young man, and the tragic, sudden death of a young mother attributed to stomach inflammation. The author was a doctor’s wife. Her reaction upon seeing her husband’s office in Rich Bar for the first time is priceless. It seems everything was quite primitive there at the time. Unfortunately miners had dug deep pits and didn’t bother to fill them back in. Altogether, it sounds like a terrible place to live but the presence of a doctor was desperately needed, and this educated high society woman didn’t want to be left behind by her doctor-husband, so there she is, writing letters to her sister.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: Loving this book. Here’s a Google Maps link to the place where the letters were written. Apparently this entire area was fire damaged by the Dixie Fire. Forty years from now it will probably be pretty there again.
Long Term Reads
★ Naturalist Memoir: Forests, Fires, and Wild Things, by Bob Gray
I’m reading it still, just a little bit each day, so this will be a long term read. I’m currently on page 76. Great fun, learning about forest service life around McCloud, CA in the 1940’s.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: Still reading . . . occasionally. No hurry on this one.
★ Juvenile Fiction: Red, White, and Whole, by Rajani LaRocca
This is a 2022 Newbery Honor book. I’m going to call this “immigrant fiction” as that seems to be an emerging popular sub-genre.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: So sorry I’m not really loving this book. Will it ever grab me and not let go?
☆ Juvenile Fiction: Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting
A Newbery Medal winner from 1923.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: Haven’t started.
☆ Juvenile Fiction: Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars
This is the 1971 Newbery Medal winner.
MIDMONTH UPDATE, July 14: Haven’t started.
My July 2022 Reading Diary
July 1 – Today I’ve been reading the creativity book, Find Your Artistic Voice. It is helping me a lot – to focus in on what I want to do with my art. I’m more than 1/2 way through it right now. I’m also more than 1/2 way through my current audiobook, Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. I’m also reading The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip on Kindle. It is a remarkable novel, for Christians.
Current Reads as of 7/2/22:
Audio: All Creature Great and Small
Kindle: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip
Physical: Find Your Artistic Voice
July 4 – I finished reading Find Your Artistic Voice, by Lisa Congdon. Here’s my review at Goodreads. Four stars.
My next physical book: The Shirley Letters: From the California Mines, 1851-1852
July 7 – I missed writing here for the last few days. I had my errand day to the little town I live near where I went to the library, the post office and the grocery store. That’s the extent of my community activities these days. At the library I was blessed by being able to re-shelve returned books for a while. Our librarian is a volunteer; the county no longer pays a librarian to work here. I have three books checked out right now. I’ll tell more about them when I start reading them. No need to list them right now.
Since July 4 I’ve been doing one painting per day in a mixed media sketchbook. So far nothing is a masterpiece, so I’m not feeling inclined to share. It all seems unfinished! I’m hoping I’ll get better at this as the days go by. To inspire this I am using a page of prompts I wrote for writing projects quite a few years ago. I went in and refreshed the page, and updated it. Then today I did the same for a page about gifts for watercolor artists. Great fun.
July 8 – I finished reading The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, by Sara Brunsvold. This is a very inspired novel, good for Christian readers. Here’s my Goodreads review. Five stars.
Next Kindle reading experience: Red, White, and Whole, by Rajani LaRocca. This is a 2022 Newbery Honor book.
July 12 – Last night I finished reading All Creature Great and Small, by James Herriot. These are chapter-length tales of adventures in the ordinary life of a respectable, industrious English veterinarian. Very much worth reading. Here’s my review at Goodreads. Five stars.
Next audiobook: Winter, by Melissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #4) … I rarely read one of the books in this series but I’m doing so to fulfill a prompt in my VT reading challenge… to read a dystopian novel.
July 16 – I had to DNF Winter. I wasn’t into it and it was way too long. 23+1/2 hours for a YA dystopian audiobook? No, I didn’t want to sit through that. I did enjoy the first three books in the series, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I’m just not invested enough to want to spend 23 hours with the fourth book.
Next audiobook: A Time To Die by Nadine Brandes – another YA dystopian audiobook but this one is Christian fiction as well. Only 16 hours and I’m very much enjoying it. This is the first book in a series called Out of Time
July 21 – Yesterday I finished listening to A Time To Die by Nadine Brandes. Great novel. Here’s my review. Five stars.
July 26 – Summer heatwave! Temps up to 113 this week, so says the weatherman. Meanwhile I finished reading Tell Me Everything, by Erika Krouse… a memoir published this year. Fascinating private eye story. My Goodreads review. Five stars.