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A Summer Reading Challenge – Hf #81

on June 5, 2017 by Jami Balmet 14 comments

It’s June! And that means the beginning of Summer. And that means it’s the perfect time to set some fun summer reading goals! 

Do you want to set some reading goals this summer? Or pick up your first book(s) of the year? Nows the perfect time! 

Listen to the Podcast:

We also recorded this blog post as an audio podcast. If you want to listen in instead of reading, click play below or do a combination of both :)

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

Taking the Time to Invest in YOURSELF

I’m starting to prepare to homeschool our 4 year old twins. And as I’ve been diving into all the different philosophies and styles of planning out your homeschooling, I keep coming across the Charlotte Mason method. I’m not sure I will do full Charlotte Mason homeschooling, but I do LOVE a lot of her philosophies. 

One such idea is that as mothers, we should heavily be investing in ourselves. When we can invest in ourselves, and fill up our own cup, then we can then turn around and pour into our family. We can’t pour into our family and build them up if we are utterly on empty ourself. Charlotte Mason calls this concept “mother culture”. 

Mother Culture: “Mothers should cultivate their souls so that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children.” 

One idea for investing in yourself: Her idea is that you should always be in the middle of an easy book, a moderate book, and a stiff book and just pick up whichever one sounds the best to you at the moment. I’ve heard others recommend you always have a biography, a novel, and something to learn going on at once. 

So if you need another reason to dive into some good books this Summer then just remember…it’s ultimately for the good of your kids πŸ˜‰ 

Two ways to approach your summer reading

Set a goal for each week/month

Jason and I have taken on the insane challenge of reading 104 books in 2017 which equals TWO books a week. Yes, I know it’s crazy. But we are just crazy like that πŸ˜‰ 

As I expected, I am behind on my reading challenge (I really have no idea if I’ll meet by goal by December 31st). But I have read 31 books so far this year which isn’t nearly as behind as I thought I would be by this point, so I’m happy with that. 

So for me, my goal this summer is to get back on track with 2 books a week. Our family has been so busy that relaxing with a book has had to be really limited in my time lately. But I want to make it more of a commitment this summer. 

So one easy way to read more: set a few goals in your day for reading. Let’s say you want to read 6 books this summer. Set that goal and start trying to read 2 books a month! Even if you only end up reading 3 books, that’s probably more than if you didn’t set any goals! 

Be in the middle of 3 books

This is the Charlotte Mason idea and I love it! If you have been really struggling to get back into the regular habit of reading, then this might be the relaxed, fun idea you’ve been waiting for! 

Pick three books: an easy book, a moderate book, and a harder book. Or pick a novel, a biography, and a book to learn from. Or pick a book in three different categories. Stick them all in a basket. 

Then when you sit down to read, pick up whichever book sounds the best to you at the moment. Don’t think about it, just grab it and READ. 

I love this easy and relaxed approach! 

Start a Bible study for the summer:

I am ALL for creating reading plans and reading goals for your summer, I think it can be the perfect time for it. However, if you are really struggling to even spend a few minutes a day in Scripture, then the summer might be the perfect time to dig into God’s Word! 

You can do this on your own, enlist an accountability partner, or even get a group of other ladies together to do it (or wrangle your husband/one of your kids into doing a study with you). 

I know it can be tough to know what studies to dive into. So I’ve got a couple of fantastic ideas for you!! 

RELATED: You can read about the simple Bible study method that I follow here

Jen Wilken’s 11 week studies: 

I love her studies because she focuses on a book of the Bible and teaches straight through it. Doing this way forces you to go through the happy, light sections AND the hard and difficult ones. You get to read and study God’s Word in CONTEXT and learn from within the entire scope of it. I am currently going through her Hebrews study. She has also done: 

With each of these studies, she has 11 audio lessons to listen through as well as a FREE workbook you can download and work through with her. 

Jen also has published two of her studies that you can buy and go through. She has 1 Peter and The Sermon on the Mount.

You can subscribe to her bible study feed on iTunes. Just search for Jen Wilkin or go through this link.

Katie Orr and Focused 15

Katie has five different studies: Everyday Faith, Everyday Obedience, Everyday Peace, Everyday Hope, and Everyday Love. They each tackle a different passage or section of Scripture and they are meant to be worked through in 15 minutes a day for four weeks. 

She teaches you throughout the study how to dive into Scripture for yourself. So the intention is that you don’t become hooked on her studies but rather that you go through one and then have the skills and confidence to study the Bible on your own. 

Katie also has a fantastic podcast with Bible study Tips! You can subscribe here.

On My Reading List for This Summer

I’m hoping to get through 10 books in June and July. Then in August we have a two week vacation at the lake WITHOUT internet. So I’m hoping to make a reading list for August that is quite long as well πŸ˜‰ 

Here’s my reading list for June & July. Please note: I tend to change my mind ALL the time on my reading. I tend to just pick up next whatever sparks my interest. So this list is subject to change πŸ˜€ 

Meal Planning Help: 

I am really excited to share with you the sponsor of today’s podcast episode: PrepDish! If you ever feel like you wish you had a little help in your meal planning, then I highly encourage you to check out PrepDish. They offer gluten free meal plans and paleo meal plans. 

But you don’t have to eat a gluten-free or paleo diet in order to take advantage of all that PrepDish has to offer! In fact, almost half of their customers don’t eat those diets. The meals are healthy and non-processed and work well for anyone who is trying to eat a healthy diet. And PrepDish is offering a super special TWO week free trail when you sign up through this link (how awesome!!)

When you sign up, you’ll receive an email every week with a grocery list and instructions for prepping your meals ahead of time. After only 1-3 hours of prepping on the weekend, you’ll have all of your meals ready for the entire week. I absolutely love how easy they make it. 

Free TWO week trial of PrepDish

Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. I loved this episode. You sounded excited and though you said you were tired you were on track the whole time.

    I may also have loved it because…book! Enough said.

    I am researching Charlotte Mason as well right now. Have you looked at Simply Charlotte Mason? It’s a website that has book lists and articles about how to include her methods. It also has a store with books as well. I have found it really helpful.

    On another note here some books I have found really good. I just finished Forgotten God by Francis Chan. It is a nice introduction to the Holy Spirit and just encouraged me to pray more. The marriage book by him and his wife You and Me Forever is really good though we have only gotten about a chapter in to it. And one of my favourite books that I have read recently is Money, Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn. He seems to gives and exhaustive look at this subject and challenged my thinking on money possessions and eternity.

    I loved the idea of having an novel, a biography and a learning book going at the same time. I may try that. I have been planning one book this summer: Les Miserables. I tried this last summer and didn’t realize how big or difficult to read it was, so I hope to finish it this time. But I may also read 7 great women and the secret to their greatness (I’m not certain on the title). And I need to read the Driver’s training book. I’m hoping to get my license this year.

  2. I love this reading challenge! It is just what I need! We are heading into winter here in Australia, but during this autumn I have been in such a survival mode, that instead of reading, I have been spending my downtime just scrolling mindlessly through Pinterest! I have been so bad for it, and it just does not fill me up at all! I really need to get back on track with my reading goals! Thanks for the encouragement!

    I like the Charlotte Mason ‘Mother Culture’, it’s funny, I have actually sort of been doing that already this year, one fiction book, one non fiction and The Bible have been my books, but I have recently been jumping between several non fiction books, and not really able to get into any of them properly. My head has just been all over the place! But, I think I am ready to get back onto the straight and narrow now!

    I also love your encouragement to do a bible study. I tried about a month ago to study the gospel of Luke, using Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word method, but oh man, my head was just everywhere and I really struggled, so I gave it up and just started going back to just reading through the scriptures, through the gospel of Mark. But I have been listening to the Jen Wilkin Flower Mound Bible Study podcast of the Book of James, and I am getting quite into it, so I am downloading the workbook so I can do the study properly myself!

    I have just downloaded a sample of ‘Humble Roots’, and a copy of ‘Mere Christianity’, I am trying to decide which of those books I will read next, as I have just finished ‘the 5 love languages’, which was a great book (and I’m going to give it to my sister as a wedding present when she gets married in August!).

    Thank you so much for all the encouragement to keep reading, keep growing and keep living out our faith! You are a total inspiration!

    • That’s great Eliza!! I love her audio Bible studies, so good for when our mind’s have trouble staying focused πŸ˜‰ Oh you are going to love both of those!!

  3. That quote from Charlotte Mason and her tips on reading three books really resonates with me! I’m currently re-reading Simply Tuesday and also delving into A Million Little Ways, and listening to the audiobook versions of Biocentrism and Guerilla Mindset. I’ve found that audiobooks are such an amazing resource and I highly recommend audible.com and christianaudio for anyone looking to get into audiobooks. I listen to them every night when I’m out for my evening walk.

  4. Loved this episode! Anything concerning reading gets two thumbs up in my books πŸ™‚

    I have a goal this year to read 20 books, including fiction and non-fiction. I’ve been out of the habit of reading for the last 5 years, as I joined the ranks of motherhood and had three babies in 3.5 years. Now that my youngest is 18 months old, I feel like I have some time to breathe again lol. So far, I have completed 12 books, which means that I might exceed my goal this year!

    I’m currently in the middle of 3 books, all non-fiction right now. I have one paper book (Idols of the Heart, Elyse Fitzpatrick), one Kindle book (Missional Motherhood, Gloria Furman), and one Audible book (Spiritual Disciplines for the Godly Life, Donald Whitney). I’ve told myself that I need to finish at least one of these non-fiction books before I’m allowed to start another fiction book. I totally get sucked into the fiction, just like you, Jami!

    I’m also really looking forward to reading aloud with my older boys (5 and 3.5) this summer. I really want to read things like Stewart Little, Charlotte’s Web, Narnia, and other early-reader novels with them. I get to count the read-aloud books towards my book total, right? I mean, they are chapter books… Lol

    • That’s AWESOME!! Way to go!! πŸ˜€ Ooooh all three of those are amazing! TOTALLY count those in your books for the year. I’ll bet you end up with a lot more than 20 πŸ˜‰

  5. Right before I read this, I had been over at the AfterThoughts blog. Brandy has collection of possible books for each of the three categories, and she’s been doing it for three years, so lots of choice. I know you have your own lists for you 2017 Reading Challenge, but book recommendations from Christain women – well, you can never have too many. πŸ˜‰

    (She also is a hero for Charlotte Mason homeschooling, so her blog is worth checking out anyway.)

    Also, can we briefly discuss your 579 unplayed podcasts? I get heart palpitations just seeing that big red number on someone else’s screen grab. πŸ˜…

    • Oh that’s awesome!! πŸ˜€ I agree, you can NEVER have too many book suggestions πŸ˜‰ I’ll go check out her blog.

      LOL. I subscribe to WAY too many podcasts to keep up on. If you think that’s bad, DON’T see my email app!!

  6. Hi Jami My name is Whitney (as you might know from my info 😁) I am a mom to 5 kids also, in August my kids ages are 10,9,8 (8 year old little girl has Down syndrome 😊) and 3,2 πŸ˜‚ So I’m saying hi from one crazy busy homeschool mom to another πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘‹πŸ½ Well what I want to say I am VERY BRAND NEW to reading books other than biographies and fiction book. I have always been very very nervous of reading anything else that would be considered a ‘selfhelp’ book I guess? The reason is because my dad WAS HUGE on those types of books, if you had a problem or struggle he knew ‘a really good book for you to read.’ he would carry his Bible around more like an accessory and I vowed I would never be like that. If I had a problem it would be taken to God through prayer and bible reading. So you wouldn’t believe it but I starting thinking surely there are some good Godly sound base biblical book to read that aren’t fluff. Well I was lost and didn’t know where to start. Well in the end I ordered Lysa Terkeurst ‘The Best Yes’ and her ”Made to Crave’ because 1. Making wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands and 2. Satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food.
    I feel overwhelmed and overweight.
    You didn’t mentioned her name or any of her books so now I’m worried that didn’t order a book that is biblical or that is full of fluff! I really don’t want to read some that is just going to try and pump me up.
    If you could please let me know what you think that will be great πŸ˜ƒ I hope to hear from you soon πŸ˜ƒ

    • Hey Whitney,

      I TOTALLY understand that fear of not wanting to get too many “self-help” books. But digging into GOOD Gospel-Centered resources are a whole different thing πŸ™‚ But ultimately, God’s Word needs to be our #1 source! However, Gospel-Centered books can help us study God’s Word deeper and to help us understand it more.

      You are right, she is not on my list for a reason. I can’t 100% recommend her. I only give recommendations I firmly can stand behind theologically (or tell you why I’m not). I don’t think she is terrible, but I do think she is off on a few minor things. Overall, I’ve heard good things about those books and I don’t think it’s terrible to read them πŸ™‚ I have friends who love her books. Personally for me, I just think there’s deeper books out there.

      If you are looking for some good, solid books then for the future I have a huge list of them compiled here: https://youngwifesguide.com/2017-christian-reading-challenge-christian-women/

      Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Whitney!

      I am not as theologically educated as Jami (I’ve only been a Christ follower for a couple of years) but I found Made to Crave was a good, encouraging book. I do have to say that it didn’t ‘kickstart’ my healthy living journey when I read it, it took a few months and some other, more specifically food related books to get that happening. The Trim Healthy Mama Plan book is my best recommendation for heading in the right direction, eating wise. If you struggle with emotional eating, I would highly recommend cutting refined sugar from your diet (like THM does). I don’t follow the plan religiously, but keep their principles in mind when preparing food.

      If you are feeling overwhelmed, I would recommend ‘Say Goodbye the Survival Mode’ by Crystal Paine (and I know Jami also recommends this book!) because it has great, actionable steps to help stop the overwhelm.

      Hope I don’t sound too much like your Dad, with all my book recommendations! πŸ˜†