When Frank and I first met, I invited him to my book club. After grad school, a friend and I started a monthly book club called Books and Beer. We met at bars, and one of the goals of the club was to meet intelligent guys. He started coming, and we got to know each other through lively discussions for a few months before he asked me out. (Once we got engaged, he stopped coming….) An important criteria had already been met, before we even started dating: He loved books and learning.
We have fairly similar tastes in books: We both love nonfiction, biographies, and history. The subject matter tends to differ – I am drawn to stories, spirituality, social justice, women’s rights, and food matters. Frank enjoys adventure, Roosevelt, running biographies, and inspirational speakers. Over the years, we have exchanged some old favorites, but not many. In December, I did read Coming Out of the Ice, one of Frank’s all-time favorites. While it wasn’t one of my favorites, I did appreciate finally reading it. Many connections that came up in our discussions finally made sense, and it was nice to talk with him about a book that has deeply impacted him.
I mentioned before that last year was a record year for me, in terms of reading. I ended the year with 41 books read. Last year was also a record year for Frank, but at the opposite end of the spectrum: He only finished 3 books. For a lover of quiet time and new information, this was discouraging for him. Work has been nonstop and he wants to spend as much time with Bea as possible, so reading has taken a backseat in his priorities.
Last week, Sarah Bessey shared a reading challenge: In an effort to cross the borders of differing genre and theme, she and her husband will each read a book per month that the other has chosen. I loved the idea of choosing books ahead of time; of sharing with each other books that have challenged us or changed us or captured our imagination. Because of tax season, being parents to an active toddler, and my various book club commitments, we decided to tweak our challenge: We each chose 6 books for the other to read, giving us 2 months to read each book. We also chose one new book to read together.
My books for Frank:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Frank’s books for me:
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
We the Living by Ayn Rand
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Together, we’ll read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.
I love that our lists tell so much about us. If you don’t know us, the books we chose for each other will give a glimpse into our personalities; If you do know us, they should make perfect sense. Frank has already started the Omnivore’s Dilemma and I just began The Millionaire Next Door. Even if we don’t give 5-star ratings to these books, I love that we are honoring each other and learning more about our views and values.
If you could do a reading challenge with someone, who would it be? What top books would you include?