In truth this should be titled Why I need a challenge.
Short answer? To grow and change.
I know, I kind of hate it too. Oh that I would just do what was in my own best interesting without needing the gentle nudge or, if I keep ignoring signs, the harsh slap of a challenge.
I am now far enough into my “health challenge” to see the good that has come from it. Now, mind you, not all challenges come with silver linings, I get that. Some are awful tragedies and no amount of contortionist positive thinking can negate the awfulness. But, real tragedies are more the exception than the rule. Annoying case in point: without my health challenge, I would never have made changes to my diet that will probably pay off for decades to come.
It wasn’t knowledge that stood between me and change. I knew that I probably “should” cut back on sugars and maybe not eat as much bread or bagels as I was. But knowledge isn’t the best motivator. Enter a challenge, and suddenly that change I had been meaning to make was made.
You know this is the second summer for the Summer Reading Challenge.
If you are anything like me, when I announced the challenge I was flooded with endorphins and good feelings.
Yes! Yes! A reading challenge, count me in. I looked over the categories and made a mental plan.
And then I promptly went out and “accidentally stumbled upon” a memoir I must-read-right-now-or-die. Well, ain’t nobody got time for death, so I read it. And then I read another memoir and another.
Clearly I have a type.
Left to my own, I will read nonfiction book after nonfiction book, mixing memoir and other genres.
Joining this challenge myself forces me to read books I DO want to read. I really do. But without the nudge of the challenge, I—sigh—won’t. I wish I would. I want to be the kind of person who does all the right things all the time.
Cue the angelic laughter.
So, I called my niece and asked her about that graphic novel she read and some other Young Adult book she recommended a year ago. People, sometimes we just start somewhere. Armed with the two titles, I set off to the library in search of Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad and Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey.
Looking for Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey in the graphic novel section I stumbled upon a graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion in China!!!!! What?! They make graphic novels about Chinese history? On impulse I checked out Boxers by Gene Leun Yang and discovered reading the cover that Part 2 of the series is Saints telling the missionary side of the Boxer Rebellion.
As if that wasn’t enough, I shared the above picture on Facebook and a friend linked this article from Christianity Today
In full discloser, I haven’t actually read Boxers yet. But my sister Elizabeth has and then she got Yang’s American Born Chinese and texted me “Really liked it. Quite a fast read. I’ll keep it for you.”
So, I am going to read Boxers, Saints, and American Born Chinese.
And this is why you need this challenge. Left on your own, your thing may not be memoirs or nonfiction, but you have a thing. And you love your thing and that is good. But just look what you may be missing. This challenge has lead my family down a rabbit hole of graphic novels we never knew existed. Will I become a raving graphic novel reader?
Um, no. Not a chance.
But am I grateful that for my own good I’ve discovered an author I didn’t know and will learn about the Boxer Rebellion? Without hesitation, yes.
It is not too late to join in the challenge. It’s not too late for your own reading rabbit trails. It’s not too late to share this adventure with other readers. Challenges are good for us :).
What books have you read during this challenge that you might not have read otherwise? Share and let us check them out too.