Goodbye to the Winter Reading Challenge!

Over at Gracepoint Berkeley church, the first ever Winter Reading Challenge ended last Friday. Thanks to everyone who participated! I was personally blessed and encouraged by people’s comments. Many went well above & beyond the 2-3 sentence comments, and I feel like I got to know some of the people who were posting. 🙂

It was the most challenging challenge we’ve had thus far — reading 5 books in 5 weeks — and we had 37 people complete it. We even had several people complete the challenge two or three times!

They’ve won their very official looking gift certificates to the GP Bookstore:

bu_giftcertSince we don’t have those nifty polaroid looking pictures like we have for past challenges, I will list them here on the official winner board.

  • Amanda Gee
  • Angel Lam
  • Anna Liu
  • Brandon Fong
  • Carol Yang (Homegroup RED-HD, woot!)
  • Chris Le
  • Chris Liu
  • David Lee
  • Elaine Escalona
  • Emily Huang (making us Emilys proud!)
  • Emily Rah (another Emily!)
  • Grace Choi
  • Hallie Honma
  • Hannah Ling
  • Hernan Kim
  • Jana Guan
  • Jenn Chen
  • Jenny Young (most senior winner – TOTC Sisters represent!)
  • Jessica Gao
  • Josephine Gao
  • Joshua de la Paz
  • Kaylin Le
  • Kevin Lin
  • Krystal Han
  • Laura Kim
  • Lillian Ji
  • Louis Chen
  • Marty Krakora
  • Michael Kramer (most # of books logged)
  • Mike Park
  • Percival Chen
  • Roanna Lin
  • Sally Cho (twin winners!)
  • Sarah Cho (twin winners!)
  • Stephen Cheng
  • Victoria Chan
  • William Shen

For those of you who are into stats, here is a breakdown:

  • Total winners: 37
  • By gender:
    • Sisters: 24
    • Brothers: 13
  • By class:
    • Freshmen: 2
    • Sophomores: 4
    • Juniors: 8
    • Seniors: 12
    • Beyond!: 11
  • By ministry group (includes ministry staff):

There were a total of 298 books officially logged for this challenge! There were also 35 books people submitted on the form but did not post comments for, and countless other people told me they had been reading but hadn’t logged. I actually didn’t log any of my reading either! 🙂 All of this to say that we read a whole lot as a church this winter break, and I’m looking forward to reading even more this spring.

Can you guess what our Spring Reading Challenge will be? Post your guesses and/or suggestions in the comments below. 🙂 

Winter Reading Challenge Update & 2017 Reading Goals

Happy New Year, everyone! I bring you a mid-winter break update on the Winter Reading Challenge. So far we have 10 people who have completed 5 books, and many more who are almost there. You have until Friday, January 13 to complete the challenge!

Congrats to the following winners:

As a reminder, you do need to fill out the google form, as well as a comment on the blog FOR EACH BOOK. There are many people who have done one or the other. Unfortunately, those do not count. You need BOTH in order to officially log your books for the challenge.


With a new year, that means it’s time to set new reading goals. Some of you might know that I just celebrated my 40th birthday. So, during my 40th year, one of my reading goals is to read the remaining 40 of the 44 Christian Heroes: Then & Now books!

What reading goals have you set for 2017?

Recommended Reads: The Good Book is the Best!

While there are so many good books out there, you and I know that the best book is the Good Book. Today I want to highlight a couple of books that get young and old alike into the Bible.

61u4wwgzkcl-_sx428_bo1204203200_I’ve already featured a post on The Jesus Storybook Bible. It may look like just another picture book, but it is much more than that, and I’ve heard more than a few times that the adult reader was moved to tears while reading it aloud to a youngster. We currently carry it in the bookstore, and also have a Spanish-English bilingual version as well.

 

612l14kntsl-_sx327_bo1204203200_The Action Bible is a graphic novel that captures the overall narrative of the Bible in chronological order. And lest you think it is just a “guy book,” the girls of Bibliopolis are often crowded around the book reading it together, and fighting to get in line to check it out.

Just yesterday I had a pretty involved discussion with the 1st-2nd grade girls about why Pilate would have given Jesus over to be crucified if he knew Jesus was innocent. They had logical and insightful questions, and we were able to make connections to how we choose to do wrong when we are so afraid of getting into trouble.

There were some funny moments too. A couple of memorable lines from our discussion:

  • “Why was Pilate afraid of losing his job and getting into trouble? He could just lose his job and be a regular person.”
  • “Pilate should have listened to Jesus. And to his wife!”

I always have these two books out on the ottoman in the middle of our reading area, and without fail, whether 1st graders or 8th graders, someone will pick one up and read from it during part of our time together.

image1-1
Here’s an unstaged photo of 1st-2nd boys reading the books. 🙂

They’re great ways to get the kids and adults in your life interested in the Bible, and hooked into God’s story.

Do you have any interesting stories or experiences with reading or sharing The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Action Bible with someone? 

MYOB (Make Your Own Book (Table))

Having a gathering of friends, family, coworkers, and you want to feature some books as gifts? You can make your own book table. A few weeks ago, the Klesis Berkeley upperclassmen hosted a retreat for some of their friends, and they designed a great space using a pallet, some lights, and…a table! The theme of the retreat was about “home” and so they used the pallet for an interactive element.

Hope these pictures give you a bit of inspiration for any holiday gatherings you might be having. If you have any pictures to share, send them my way!

Defying Reading Statistics!

Yesterday’s Breakpoint Commentary entitled “Be a Bookworm, Not a Goldfish: The Lost Art of Reading a Book” cited new findings from a Pew Research Center study that over 25% of Americans, and a whopping 1 in 3 American men, did not read a book in the past year. The article’s title is a reference to the now-common shockstistic (a word I just made up) that the human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. There’s debate about how true it is that we can no longer sustain thought for 8 seconds at a time, but the bigger point is that reading good books* can help us fight against the effects of our 21st century instant culture on our brains, and more importantly our minds and souls.

Author Eric Metaxas references professor Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind:

The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency—the belief that the here and now is all there is.

In terms of actual reading of text, Americans have never read more than they do today, with innumerable text messages, emails, tweets, posts, news feeds, and other updates. As Christians, how much more important is it for us to learn how to engage our minds and enter into dialogue with an author about sustained arguments, ideas, or imagined worlds and characters so that we can become more reasonable, thoughtful, attentive students of the Word, and equipped to fight against all that is in the world that that tells us “that the here and now is all there is”!

While Metaxas brings up ideas and arguments that are familiar to us, especially if you’ve been in one of the “Effects of Living in the Internet Age” or “Technology and the Brain” type of workshops we have had, I appreciated reading this commentary and recommitting myself to defying the norm, and fighting for my mind and for my soul!

And as the Gracepoint “book lady,” I’m so happy that we at Gracepoint Berkeley church, as well as our other church plants, are doing what we can to defy these statistics together! It warms my heart when I receive emails from people who say they’ve read more in the last year than they did in all of undergrad. Sadly, just STARTING the Winter Reading Challenge will put you ahead of a good chunk of Americans. Not only are we refusing to be goldfish by being bookworms, I think many of us are on the way to being book dragons. 🙂

How many books did you read in 2016? Remember, more important than the number of books, is growing as a reader! Did you read more than you did in 2015?


 

* You can check out Breakpoint’s Recommended Reading List. It has lots of books that we carry at the store. 🙂

Recommendations from Pastor Ed Kang

Sunday at Gracepoint Berkeley church‘s college worship service, Pastor Ed Kang gave some suggestions for ways to make the most of the precious gift of winter break that college students have. When I was in college, I definitely did not appreciate and consider the reality that the time in college is the ONLY time I would ever have this gift of a month-long vacation!

Among some of the suggestions, Pastor Ed recommended some books. First, he suggested winter break would be a great time to read through the entire Bible. Then he recommended Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles, all by C.S. Lewis. And if that was too intimidating, to start with The Screwtape Letters.

 

It brought back memories to my freshman year of college a “few” years ago, when Pastor Ed issued the same challenge to start building up my faith by reading C.S. Lewis books.

Which C.S. Lewis books are your favorite? Which ones are you going to tackle this winter break? 

Reading Snapshots: It Must Be a Sign

The other day, while Elisa from Gracepoint Berkeley church was waiting in the car to pick up her older sisters from school, she was spotted doing some light reading in the car.

light car reading - we would see jesus
Though she’s smiling, this is NOT a staged photo. She was in fact leafing through the book in the car. 🙂 

What with Sammy and Elisa both reading We Would See Jesus, I think it is definitely a sign that you should read it if you haven’t already! Notice The Case for Christmas is also next to her. What were you reading when you were 4-years old? 🙂