I am going to be going through a reading challenge this year. I want to see how many books I can get through on my reading list in 365 days. This is no easy feat. I am expanding my literature to authors that I normally shy away from: Shakespeare and Dickens. These past few years I have found a new love for classic literature by reading authors ranging from Jane Austen to Tolkien.
In high school, reading Shakespeare was a pain. Especially since my senior year teacher was terrible about being enthusiastic for literature. I felt like I couldn’t understand what the author was trying to convey or even what the characters were saying. Reading “Great Expectations,” by Charles Dickens, my freshman year was exhausting. However, I was victorious through “To Kill a Mockingbird” in both sixth and tenth grade. I actually enjoyed the book and then I moved on to Tolkien, loving every moment of the world he created. Then I fell upon someone a little different: Jane Austen. I watched the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice and fell in love with the story, and even the character’s speech. It was so elegant and nothing like what I was used to. The characters were proper and the love story was realistic. I had only watched the movie and I already was enamored with Austen’s world. My fascination grew even deeper as I read Pride and Prejudice 5 times within three years (this is a big accomplishment as I take a bit to finish books).
I thought I was terrible at reading and that I couldn’t enjoy the older, more appreciated authors of the world. I thought I had failed with Shakespeare and Dickens and that I could never become a book connoisseur. I believe I have gained a new form of confidence by getting through one of the most beloved authors on the earth. Mind you, her books are not always easy to read. I always have a dictionary nearby to help better understand the language. But, as I read each of Austen’s books, the writing becomes easier to read and my reading comprehension grows.
I feel like I have accomplished more on my own through reading Austen than with my English teachers. That is why I have created a reading list of classic literature and aim to read as many as I can within a year. Some of these books I have already read, but I want to re-read them without the perspective of them being required reading. I want to take my time and enjoy the book instead of dreading a pop quiz on chapter 6 and cramming it in the morning of. I welcome you to join me on this journey and keep track of your progress by contacting me, following me on Instagram, following my Reading Challenge board on Pinterest, or commenting on this post. Don’t grow discouraged if you have a tough time understanding the language! Grab a dictionary and let’s discuss the books together! We can get through this!
I’m adding a twist to my reading challenge. I’m going to put pieces of paper in a jar with each of the book titles on my list. In another jar, I am putting all of the books of the Bible. I will pick one paper from each jar and can only pull another book from my reading list if I completed reading both books from the jars. ** However, If I don’t finish the book on the reading list before I finish the Bible book, I can choose another book of the Bible. BUT I have to finish that second Bible book if I finish reading the book on the reading list before I go to another literature book. Make sense? Okay get going on your challenge!
**My reading list is so big that it is hard to keep up with finding all the books, so I will only add a book to the jar if I come across it in a store (specifically a thrift store).
I want to balance out my reading of secular literature with that of my spiritual food. I don’t want to become too caught up with reading books and abandon the book that is most important: The Bible. I have never completely read through the Bible and I think this would be an awesome way to grow closer in my relationship with the Lord and reading literature through the lens of scripture.
Here is a list of all the books on my reading list. Contact me if you think I should add more! I will be adding throughout this journey!
Emma by Jane Austen * Completed July 13, 2016
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte*
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen*
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Lady Susan by Jane Austen*
Love and Friendship by Jane Austen*
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell*
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
O!Pioneers by Willa Cather*
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte*
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan*
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare*
The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde*
Bleak House by Charles Dickens*
The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde*
The Illiad by Homer
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Simmilarion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo*
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle*
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (The WHOLE 1000 pgs.)*
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott*
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Julius Caeser by William Shakespeare
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
*In my possession.
Please feel free to join me on my journey and add or change the books on the reading list. If you want to stick to one reading list and not do the books of the Bible, that’s okay! Tailor the challenge so that it fits YOU! Good luck and please let’s talk soon!
I want to see how your progress is too! Post a picture of the book you are reading and tag me, @curlywcf, and add #UltimateReadingChallenge. I can’t wait to see how it goes!
It’s the day before the Fourth of July. You forgot the hot dog buns. You head to the nearby Target and you enter into the jungle of people. Everyone and their brother forgot their hot dog buns. Carts are running into each other, people are cutting you off, how do you control this mayhem!? You stop and think to yourself, ” if only we had rules for shopping like we do for driving…”
Guess what? Your answer is right here! In a world of shopping catastrophe, we need a bit of guidance when it comes to pushing our carts and turning into different shopping lanes.
Traffic Rule #1 Leave your cart aside, away from where you need to grab an item.
Your cart is not an extension of your body. It seems like so many people like to take their carts to the exact spot they need to grab hot dog buns. What they don’t realize is that because they take their cart with them, they are blocking the whole bread isle for everyone else who needs hot dog buns. Please leave your cart in an inconspicuous spot.
Traffic Rule #2 People on the main isles have the right of way.
These shopping isle highways have people who are on a mission to get to the other side of the store the fastest way. These people are the speedsters of the shopping road. Just like on a normal highway, you should get out of their way when merging into their lane. Wait for these speeders to pass. You don’t want to break their momentum. It’s just annoying.
Traffic Rule #3 Do not stop in the middle of these highways.
Find a friend from church or work? A neighbor? Long lost sister? Get out of the way! Would you stop your car to talk to another driver in the middle of a highway? No, you wouldn’t. Go off to one of the side roads (or aisles in this case) and pull to the shopping curb to talk. It’s just inconsiderate to block the speedway.
Traffic Rule #4 Give the vendor workers space.
With my dad being a food deliverer for 30 years for many grocery stores, I understand the frustration the workers have for shoppers who get in the way. These hard workers are on a tight schedule with their bosses breathing down their necks. No overtime. Deadlines to meet. You don’t help if you stand in their section as they are trying to restock. Step to the side and wait until they are finished (don’t worry, they are fast) or politely ask them if you could grab what you need quickly. Don’t stand in the way like Traffic Rule #1 states.
Traffic Rule #5 Pedestrians (those without baskets) have the right of way.
These people are also the speedsters in the road. They don’t have a basket slowing their pace, they just go for it on the aisles and probably are just making a quick trip to the store. They want out of there, FAST. They only need one or two items being that they don’t have a cart. You with a cart are going to be there for a while anyway, so it won’t make a difference to let the pedestrians have the right of way.
Traffic Rule #6 Those with a lighter load at checkout should be allowed priority above those with a full cart.
Let the person behind you with a couple items go in front of you if you have a full load of groceries. Again, #5 states that they are a pedestrian and want to get in and get out. Be considerate and let them go first.
Traffic Rule #7 Look both ways before crossing or turning to another aisle.
Don’t cause a cart accident. There could be casualties. Look both ways like your mama taught you and make sure no one else is coming your way.
Traffic Rule #8 Always yield the right of way when you see a person coming and are crossing or turning to another aisle.
No matter where you are, yield to the other shopper like a nice person. And do the whole “you go first” “no, you go first” “oh no, please, you go first” “okay, thank you” thing. It will all work out and the kindness of one of you will eventually crack and one of you will be selfish and decide to go first. This avoids sudden collisions on the roadway. If anything, it will be a slow and polite collision that causes no injuries, physical or emotional.
Traffic Rule #9 Naughty kids are banned to the sidelines.
If your kid is acting up, try to get them to one of the side aisles, off the the shopping highway. First of all, it’s embarrassing for everyone to see your kid screaming. Secondly, it makes it easier for you to get them under control. Thirdly, it’s just nice to get them out of the way so they aren’t blocking other shoppers.
Traffic Rule #10 Be patient and kind.
I know you may be tired, stressed, and bothered, but keep your cool and treat others the way you would like to be treated, just like Jesus commands us.
Please do us all a favor and follow these rules. It will make everyone’s shopping experience so much better.
Do you have any shopping catastrophes you would like to share! Please tell us and leave a comment at the top of the page!
My family and I have made a pact never to rent a movie from Redbox again. It is nothing against Redbox, they were wonderful. It was our own fault for quitting using this wonderful service.
So, several months ago, we received $5 dollars towards Redbox. I was SO exctied because there had been many movies that I had not seen yet that I heard were AMAZING. We went to get “Jurassic Word” a few months ago (which was, by the way, an extremely thrilling movie. I highly recommend it). I was dying to see this movie as reviews were over-the-top FANTASTIC. We sat down as a family and watched the movie. We finished it after being terrified forever of dinosaurs, but slightly thinking raptors were adorable (for some reason they reminded me of my Labrador Retriever). The movie would be due the next day at around 10 in the morning since we got it at 10 that morning (don’t do it. That is the worst time to feel like going to 7-Eleven to return a Redbox movie).
The next day comes around 3 in the afternoon.
We forgot to return it.
Oh that’s okay! We thought. It would have cost $12 dollars each if we saw it in theaters, we are fine.
The next next day comes. We forget again. It’s just $3 dollars. Nothing more than when we used to rent a Blockbuster movie.
The next next next day comes.
We don’t forget. We just don’t feel like driving to the 7-Eleven not even 2 minutes away from our house. We had done our driving for the day with our grocery errand running.
The next next next next day comes.
Mom, I ask. can you return it? No honey, I’ve had a long day. Why don’t you return it? I can’t mom. I would have to ride my bike. Which I am NOT doing.We’ll do it tomorrow, I promise.
The next next next next next next next next next day comes.
Boy, have we failed. Our $1 movie has now turned into a $10 movie, which it will probably cost in about 5 years at Walmart. I’m ashamed. Horrified. Laziness has proven too strong in this one.
We eventually returned it. It was the next week’s grocery run.
We had waited a whole week to return the Redbox movie. FAIL. We got an “F” as we call it in our family.
Never again will we rent from Redbox.
It was so much easier when we had Netflix. We could just step two feet outside our house and put the DVD in our mailbox.
Actually…now that I think about it…we would wait a whole week after watching the Netflix movie before we returned it.
You get on Instagram and see your friend’s picture of her and her boyfriend. They look happy. She’s beautiful, he’s handsome. Everything looks perfect in their world (especially with their filter that practically eliminates any hint of facial blemish). You start to question yourself. Why aren’t I happy like that? Why does she have a boyfriend and I don’t? OR Why isn’t my boyfriend/husband and I always like that? How is she so pretty? Why can’t I find a guy like that? Am I not pretty enough? I need to be prettier like her. How is she so skinny? Wow, I need to lose weight. Oh my goodness. My life is a disaster. I am not normal. I am not happy enough like her.
I admit, I have gone through many questions like this myself. I begin to question all that I am, all that I do, and all that I’m worth. I begin to wonder why my life doesn’t match that of my friends on social media. They all have perfect lives.
In reality, they aren’t leading perfect lives. Behind that picture is a relationship that is falling apart. They are barely holding on, waiting out just one more picture that captures their facade of happiness. She is struggling with self esteem and he is sick of having to share every moment of their life on Instagram.
If only she posted the real struggles she was going through in life. A picture of the last fight she and her boyfriend (or husband) had. A picture of her sobbing in her bed late at night, crying out to God to help her in the midst of her trial. A picture of her with her face on the ground with #contemplatingsuicide in the description.
No one does this. No one posts their worst days on Instagram or Facebook or any other social media outlet. Everything they post is double checked before they send it out to everyone. Is it funny enough? Pretty enough? Do I need a filter? The goal is to make themselves look as happy as they can possibly be without giving away their lie.
The way we view people is greatly influenced by social media. We think everyone is happy all the time and we find there is something wrong with ourselves. Ladies, your self-worth should not be measured by how happy you are compared to your social media friends. STOP questioning everything about yourself and realize that THEY are just like you: sinners crumbling in a fallen world. Take the focus off of YOURSELF and put it on someone who truly lived a perfect, holy life. Someone who won’t judge you on how bad your picture looked on Instagram. Someone who will love you, flaws and all. Someone who diedand suffered for your ugly heart. Look to JESUS CHRIST.
“12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
If you are looking at YOURSELF, all you will find is imperfection, failure, and darkness. Your life will not be happy at all times. You will not always have a perfect relationship with others like it seems there is on social media. You CANNOT rely on the social media fantasy as your reality. You MUST look to CHRIST. Stop looking at yourself, you are nothing, worthless. But with Christ you are made whole, saved, righteous, and worthy of His grace. Without Christ, you are nothing, but with Him you will find true joy that is real and that will far exceed the deceitful happiness on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat!
Look to Him and press on towards the goal of salvation!
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
This sentence is like the Genesis “in the beginning” of romantic novels. Ah the class! The decorum! And the simple yet oh so elegant lifestyle!
If you have not yet understood what on earth I am talking about, I sympathize with you! You have wasted precious moments reading my words instead of one of the greatest masterpieces on earth!
I urge you to STOP what you are doing, run to your local bookstore, or go to the Kindle store if you are one of those electronic people, and buy the wonderful, the glorious “Pride and Prejudice,” by the fabulous Jane Austen.
Seriously, do not even continue on reading until you get that book. I cannot have this discussion with you if you have not read it.
Bought the book yet?
…Are you sure?
…please don’t lie to me…
Okay, ready for our little chat?
Can we please talk about wanting to go back in time and be there with Lizzie Bennett at her first meeting with Mr. Darcy?! How I long to be there! I have read this book five times and have not yet been bored while reading.
Jane Austen captures every girls’ dream in her story: the finding and falling in love with a man that she has always hoped for. However, Ms. Austen tells a story that is so much different from the romantic stories I grew up with.
Cinderella had her Prince Charming and it was love at first sight. There was no flaw in Cinderella, she was beautiful, graceful, and could even sing. The only flaw between the two of them was that the Prince’s eyesight was not very savvy. He couldn’t even tell who his one true love was without looking at her foot (talk about weird).
Jane Austen writes along the lines of reality. Both Darcy and Lizzie had flaws. She was prejudiced and he was prideful (get it? Prideand Prejudice). Their flaws are what destroys the love at first sight shamble. Lizzie can’t stand the sight of Darcy. Darcy is worse than friend-zoned, he is what I call Mr. Collins-zoned (If you didn’t read the book yet like I told you to, you won’t get it!). Lizzie doesn’t see any hint of a possibility of marrying Darcy.
As Ms. Austen develops the story she makes the characters vulnerable to such weaknesses. These weaknesses almost lead to the complete ruin of either of them having a happy ending. This is what I find intriguing. Girls need to realize that their knight in shining armor won’t always come polished. We are all prone to sin. We are never perfect and these imperfections are what can truly destroy us. The “nobody’s perfect” and “we all make mistakes” statements are true, but when people turn this into something where we aren’t held accountable or we don’t suffer for those “mistakes,” we get in trouble.
Lizzie and Darcy both suffer damage from their foolish actions. However, they pull through the consequences and learn to not be like their former selves. Lizzie opens herself up to a newer outlook on Darcy. Darcy learns that by humbling himself, he can win over Lizzie. Both characters must make REALISTIC choices about their lives. They could have either chosen to be stubborn in their usual ways or change their attitude so that they can learn to love another. They choose the latter, and take the focus off of blaming the other for their trial. They look INWARD at what THEY can do to better change THEMSELVES. By putting the needs of the other above their own, they are able to meet each other at eye level and truly see one another. They finally are able to stand on common ground and allow their love to virtuously flow.
Ladies, your husband or significant other will not be shining all the time. It only takes ONE of you to make things right. By putting his needs above yours, you are amplifying your love for him 10 times more.
We can all learn a lot from Ms. Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Life doesn’t come with your personal perfect prince package. We should strive to fix our weaknesses and humbly admit ourmistakes. By reconciling our failures and putting our selfish desires aside, we can finally let ourselves love another person we never thought we could love. That person could turn out to be perfect. Not perfect in their behavior, but perfect as in a perfect fit for YOU. Someone who can help bring out your best qualities and who will love you in spite of your flaws.
What are your thoughts on the book? Did you interpret it differently? Did it affect you the same way? Comment in the box below!
Okay, I am about to share with you a very embarrassing moment that will probably forever ruin any desire to be a server. This is one of those moments that comes up to haunt you in the middle of the night and you do that weird twitch with your body and turn to your other side in hopes of forgetting it ever happened.
Last year, this wonderful lady, Jackie (Not her real name, but for privacy), at my church asked me to help her with her catering service at a small family get together. At first, I was going to be helping in the kitchen with clean up and I wouldn’t be serving (Mind you I had no experience whatsoever with the etiquette of serving). She had three other girls that were going to help, including my sister. However, the day before the gig I find out that two of the girls (who had experience) weren’t going to be helping. My sister and I were going to be servers instead. At this point, I was just a little nervous knowing that I had no clue what I was supposed to do. My only experience serving was watching the waiter or waitress serve me at a restaurant that I ate at (Oh goodness, I’m sweating as I’m writing this).
So, the day of the job comes along and my sister and I hop in the car of the caterer and her assistant. We drive through the beautiful scenery and we eventually approach our destination. The house is beautiful. It has a long driveway leading up to the top of their house. It looks big, but not as big as I thought it would be. I was wrong. As we enter their house, they have a map…
Let me repeat that..
A MAP of their house and it’s property.
This isn’t a simple “oh let’s have a cutesy drawing of our three bedroom one bath house,” this is a full blown, elegant map showing a house with like five rooms, four baths (I don’t remember the exact numbers), a tennis court, pool deck, and land for agriculture. Okay, by now my heart is pumping, this is the REAL DEAL. I’m just a little intimidated. There is no screwing up at this thing. The pressure is on.
Now, you have to understand one thing about me: I put major pressure on myself to perfect things and am a people pleaser. No matter how nice and forgiving a person may seem, I will still be freaking out about making things perfect for them.
I would like to make one thing very clear. These people were so kind! After we pulled up to the house, both the husband and wife who hired us came out and welcomed us. They were SO sweet and were very laid back. I should have felt no pressure whatsoever, but as I normally do, I pointlessly pressured myself.
They took us on a small tour of the house (which was gorgeous and so classy) and then guided us along what they would like the table setup to look like. The wife even helped us with the set up, which I thought was very kind.
The Wine Glasses
Anyway, back to the squirmy part…
She asked my sister and I to buff the wine glasses…
I have never done that before in my life, which may seem surprising, but my parents don’t drink wine. We try buffing the glasses, but there are still spots all over it! We buff them again, and there are still spots! I was so scared that we did something wrong, but it was just the wine glass’ fault. My sister and I finish the setup and wait for Jackie to finish the food. I ask Jackie what the etiquette is for serving. She tells me you serve from the left and smile and etc. She assured me everything was going to be fine and that they were very nice people.
Okay, phew, I guess that made me feel a little better, not much though…
The Dreaded Water Pitchers
So the big reveal of the servers approaches and my sister and I fill the water pitchers.
These water pitchers were SO HEAVY! And we had to hold them with one hand! The longer we held it, the weaker our arms got. We go out to fill the waters and to my dismay, YOU CAN’T FIT IN BETWEEN THE CHAIRS.
YOU CAN’T FIT IN BETWEEN THE CHAIRS!!!
The chairs are so close to each other that you have to reach super far, practically shoving your chest in the person’s face. I’m five foot one so my reach is not very long.
Don’t forget about the heavy water!
So I go to fill up the grandmother’s cup and, of course, I spill. I SPILL.
Oh goodness, I’m shaking and trying to keep up my smiley face without crying. I apologize and she is so kind and understanding. Luckily, I didn’t actually spill ON her, but all over the table.
I’m kind of happy it was the grandmother I spilled near because everyone knows that the grandmother would be the most reassuring, forgiving person.
The family was so kind and totally brushed off the event, but me? No. The night was ruined. I was ruined. I was determined never to do this again. If I spilled within the first five minutes of serving, what worse thing would I do in the next hour?
The Deceiving Restaurant Waiters
The story isn’t over. This next moment isn’t even a stupid, clumsy mistake. It was an intellectually stupid mistake.
So as you know I only have experience watching servers at restaurants. They ask the whole table if they would like more bread or water, small stuff like that. I knew you didn’t actually have a conversation with the people, but I figured small questions about their needs was fine.
I was wrong.
You are supposed to act like you are not there.
I go to refill their bread. Clasp my hands and say “Hello everyone, I hope you are enjoying your food, would you like anymore bread?”
*cue face palm*
Once those words came out of my mouth I knew something was wrong. The whole table stopped to look at me, kinda confused, and then the wife says (very kindly) “No thank you, Lizzie. Thank you very much.” ( or something like that) she was very kind and I didn’t get any snobby or “how dare you” vibe from any of the family members, but I knew I did something out of the normal from their slightly confused faces and I was mortified.
I practically ran back into the kitchen to Jackie and face palmed. Literally face palmed.
I explained to her what happened and she started cracking up. It was obvious that was NOT what I was supposed to do, but she, her friend, and my sister started laughing so hard. I started laughing too realizing my stupid mistake, but I was so disappointed in myself and I felt betrayed by the waiters in restaurants. They deceived me on proper etiquette of private party catering!!!
Needless to say, after we were finished serving the courses, my sister took care of the refilling of wine and water. I stayed in the kitchen doing dishes. But hey, I got paid really well, but at the cost of my dignity.
I’m still mortified and it probably seems like nothing at all to you guys, but it was a BIG DEAL to me. Some of you might relate to my personality and I hope you don’t go through anything like this.
As I continue to try to forget while I squirm in my bed and slightly twitch as I am writing, I have come to the conclusion that serving is not for me. I think I will be a port-o-potty cleaner instead.
Share your embarrassing story! Leave a comment at the top of the page. The best stories will be published!