By Deac. Mary J. Moerbe
Summer reading challenges first caught my eye once my children started to read. Suddenly a challenge for them could mean an easier time for me. But now I’ve grown very fond of the summer reading challenge precisely because it is something I can do for myself.
As a young mother, I hear the phrase “take care of yourself” frequently. Frankly, it reminds me of a joke: “Out of all my body parts I feel like my eyes are in the best shape. I do at least a thousand eye-rolls a day.” If I always knew how to take care of myself, I wouldn’t be in such need for self-care. And if I had time to pursue what I wanted to, I wouldn’t need to be reminded to do so.
Reading, however, is both outlet and inlet. Out flow the noise and frustrations of the moment. Out flow the multitasking, decision-making, and multi-relational aspects of the day. In flows a renewed awareness of detail, relationship, character development, and the passage of time.
A reading challenge need not hinge on the prescription of others that one ought to read such-and-so-many books. It can be both extremely personal and entirely open, tailorable to one’s own needs and situations.
Here’s a set of summer reading challenges that I made up for you to consider this year. There are neither prizes nor pressure, just the promise that the house will be ok if you read a while today. The people in your house may seem a little less demanding if you can find a little space in a book and a little time for yourself. And you may really benefit from just having your feet up and your eyes off a screen.
Ultimately, the challenge in a summer reading challenge isn’t finding and reading books. The challenge is choosing to seek personal time, personal development, and emotional catharsis. It’s a reason to get out of the house to go to the library or to pursue a little literary retail therapy.
Reading friends, I can’t raise a glass to you all. That would have disastrous consequences! I can, however, raise a page, a paragraph, and the footrest of our recliner, wishing you all the very best this summer and always. May all the blessings of Christ be yours, as well as a girls’ summer reading challenge, if you are up for it.
Mary J. Moerbe is an LCMS deaconess and writer. She blogs to encourage Lutherans to write at “Meet, Write, and Salutary,” and her books can be found on the website of Concordia Publishing House.