Saturday, January 9, 2010

Exercising Your Reading Muscle!

By Stephanie Duncan, Marketing Assistant at Moody Publishers

Welcome back to the new Moody Fiction Blog! Today we are continuing in the final day of our launch contest from Jan. 5-9th, and as our last day, we will be giving away 20 free copies of Latter-Day Cipher (fiction) and The Mormon Mirage (non-fiction) by Latayne C. Scott! Each of 10 winners today will receive a copy of each book. Read on for details...

I once saw award-winning author Mary Gordon speak, and came away challenged by her statement, “Exercise your reading muscle!” While at this time of year, many are implementing new health and fitness programs as New Years resolutions, it may also be a good time to get your literary intake in shape. Here are a few ideas to kick off your reading routine this year!

1) In Living By Fiction, Annie Dillard writes “the writer is interested in knowing the world in order to make honest sense of it.” Challenge yourself to pause and collect the details of God’s glorious world around you in a journal.

2) Finish that book you picked up last spring but only got through the third chapter!

3) Read Scripture with an eye for literary technique, looking for the Divine Author’s use of theme, foreshadowing, and character development. Start with biblical narratives such as Genesis, Esther, the gospels, and Jesus’s parables. Also check out A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards, a masterful storyteller who retells the drama of King David, Saul, and Absolom with devotional insight.

4) Enroll in an elementary education course just so you can teach The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo to a room full of imaginative, impressionable second-graders. Yes, the book is just that good.

5) Read-aloud to your kids. Try old classics like The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgsen Burnett, or The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. And if you really want to be brave this year, give all your characters voices.

6) Spend a day in a library; come with no agenda.

7) Balance your reading list by unearthing old classics and discovering new titles. Follow this advice from C.S. Lewis, “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”

8) Check out books on tape or CD from your library, or order them discounted online, to listen to on your commute to work or while you’re cleaning around the house.

9) Use fiction to connect with others: join a book club, read through a novel with your spouse, make a book recommendation to friends. Fiction is not an escape from reality, rather, it teaches us how to live reality better by showing us the interconnectedness of the stories of humanity. As C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.”

10) Try your hand at a piece of creative non-fiction.  Author Vivian Gornick says that to write one's own story is "to lift from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver wisdom." You could start by writing your testimony in a creative narrative account, jotting down an anecdote from family life, or starting a journal.

To enter to win a copy of Latter-Day Cipher (fiction) and The Mormon Mirage (non-fiction), all you have to do is leave your comment below (along with your email--important for us to contact you if you are a winner!) answering the following question or responding to this post, and you will be entered into the contest. Winners will be selected at random and will be notified the day after their comment is posted. 10 winners will each receive their own copy of both titles. Good luck!

Today's Question: What hopes, goals, or challenges do you have for yourself this year regarding reading and writing?

When rebellious Utah socialite Kirsten Young is found murdered in Provo Canyon with strange markings carved into her flesh and a note written in 19th century code, questions arise about the old laws of the Mormon Church. Journalist Selonnah Zee is assigned the story—which quickly takes on a life of its own. Even before the first murder is solved several more victims appear, each one more mysterious than the last.

Adding to a slew of other distractions, Selonnah’s cousin Roger has recently converted and is now a public spokesperson for the Mormon faith. But paradoxically, Roger’s wife, Eliza, is struggling to hold on to the Mormon beliefs of her childhood. If something is really from God, she wonders, why does it need to be constantly revised? And could the murderer be asking the same questions?

In the first edition of The Mormon Mirage, Latayne C. Scott shared her remarkable journey out of Mormonism as she uncovered shocking inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the faith she had loved and lived. Thirty years later, Mormonism and Mormon scholarship have evolved with the times. In this third, revised and updated edition of her well-known book, Scott keeps pace with changes and advances in Mormonism, and reveals formidable new challenges to its claims and teachings. The Mormon Mirage provides fascinating, carefully documented insights into • DNA research’s withering implications for the Book of Mormon • the impact of new “revelations” on Latter-day Saint (LDS) race relations • new findings about Mormon history • increasing publicity about LDS splinter groups, particularly polygamous ones • recent disavowals of long-held doctrines by church leadership • the rise of Mormon apologetics on the Internet


  1. My goals this year for reading include a continuation of last year's goal. I want to read more and more uplifting books, and more of the Bible. I want to be continually learning more about God and I want my reading to be scripturally sound. I especially want to make sure my fiction reading is always pushing me toward God and not away from Him. I am also hoping to continue to teach my children how to choose quality books and how to keep their faith strong.

  2. once again forgot my email address. princessbride42 (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. I'm an avid reader of Christian fiction, but my goal for 2010 is to read more Christian non-fiction. I'm already off to a good start, as I just finished The Great Eight by Scott Hamilton. This book is basically his Christian testimony and I enjoyed it very much.

    Latter-Day Cipher has been on my wish list for several months and I appreciate the chance to win a copy.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  4. Great question! This year, I am going to complete the second and third draft of my current WIP. I hope to have both drafts done by the end of August and then put the book into the "Operation First Novel" contest put out by Christian Writers Guild. I'm excited to see what God is going to do with this story!


  5. I love to read, and I want to continue going through my personal library - my goal is to eventually read everything I have.

  6. My goals for this year? To read more of the Bible, and to reread the Shack slowly digesting it. I also want to try to begin writing short pieces. I was a freelance photojournalist until MS got the best of me with losing words, etc. I am hoping I can pick up some of where I left off with a piece I was working on.

  7. From a writing standpoint, I need to be more focused and disciplined in getting projects finished. There's just way too many things left in a partially done state, and the inertia just gets overwhelming. In my reading, it's just a matter of spending less time online, and more time with a book in my hands. The Internet can be sooooo distracting and alluring that it just sucks you in. Thanks so much for creating this site to advance the Christian fiction genre!

    Blessings from

  8. My main reading goal for the year is to just continue reading lots of great books that make me think. Last year I finished 76 books (with over 25,000 pages read), so a fun goal would be to top that number this year. I am also dedicated to finish two Christian non-fiction books that I started last year, both over 500 pages. I am only about half way through both, and have been reading them slowly to savor them and think about the scriptural references in them.
    Thanks for hosting all the great giveaways this week.

  9. As a nontraditional student I will continue to read books that not only inspire me but continue to educate me on the facts. I hope to finish prelaw and go to law school in 2011.

  10. Monumental tasks lay ahead. ;)
    When it comes to reading, I already have a huge stack of books waiting for me, but somehow I am always finding new ones that cut in line. I usually end up reading more fiction, but I would like to dig a little deeper into non-fiction this year.
    As a writer, I am working on a project that I hope to release as an eBook sometime this year.
    We'll see...

  11. A whole day in a library? Oh, that sounds so decadent! I love reading aloud, and have been known to inflict my voices on innocent people who just dropped by for coffee.

    That's my favorite picture of Lewis - Well that, and the bathrobe picture.

    And I love Latayne's writing. I already have her books, but would love to drop them by a friend's house as an unexpected gift.
    kathleenpopa at gmail

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Goals? Do we really have to set some? Okay, my goal in reading is to read as much as possible and my goal in writing is to start a blog and share reviews on books that I have read to help others avoid the pitfalls of buying books only to throw them away when we discover they are filled with language or subject matter that does not glorify God.


  14. I hope to read a book every two weeks in the coming year.

  15. Reading is something I love to do. So this coming year I want to read at least 2-3 books every month.

  16. I hope to use my free time more wisely and leisurely this year. 2009 was a busy and stressful year and my goals for 2010 are to read more books, spend more time in scripture, write more on my blog, and take more pictures! These two books sound like a perfect blend of my personal and spiritual interests.
    kim.haire at gmail dot com

  17. I would like to broaden my interests in reading and definitely read the Bible more and study it. Oh, how I love Christian fiction, what I read always points me back to Christ and even shows me sometimes how to pray. Thanks for this opportunity.
    Mary Lou

  18. I have made and taken my own challenge:
    Read 2o New-To-Me Christian Authors.

    I plan to read 20 Christian authors that I have never read before. My goal is 20 and it's only the second week in January ad I have already been able to cross two off my list! ~ HOORAY!!!

    My challenge can be taken by others on my blog. =)

    Thanks for entering me into this drawing!

    ladyverlina AT yahoo DOT com

  19. Goals for this year? To discover new authors and expand my reading pleasure to different genres.

    These books sound great, please count me in.


  20. My goals for this year are to read as many of the books I have here as well as any new books, to help spread the word of God's love that is in these books, through my book review blog. These authors deserve to have the word spread about their works and I want to help be a part of that!

    Please enter me in this drawing for this book!

    mollydawn1981 at aol dot com

  21. I'm mixing non-fiction Christian writing with fiction. I want to grow spiritually. I learn from both. Actually, it so amazes me how God will speak to me through a novel at just the right time in my life. Non-fiction is always challenging me to grow. An example of non-fiction: 'Make Love, Make War' by Brian Doerksen. Wonderful book. And I also want to read through the Bible again this year.

  22. OOps. Forgot my email.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  23. My goals and challenges are one, To put a big dent in completing the great books I already have.
    copperllama at yahoo dot com

  24. My goal would be to finish writing my story for children!

  25. In many ways, this is a catch-up year for me after my wife's two-year battle with cancer. (She and the Lord won, and she's in remission.) For the first time in six years, I'm reading the Bible all the way through instead of specific studies. Though I'll continue to read new Christian fiction, I'll revisit classics like Milton's vision of the Creation in Paradise Lost VII, Dante's Paradiso, C.S. Lewis's The Discarded Image, and some of Dostoevsky. In writing, I plan to complete a historical novel (in progress) with deeper spiritual themes than I've attempted thus far. It looks like a busy year. My e-mail is donn at donntaylor dot com.

  26. I think my biggest goal is to read books to strengthen me. Please enter me. Thanks!!


  27. I can hardly wait to read these books this year! I plan on trying to read at least 2 hours a week (if I can stay awake) and have various tastes, so I skip around authors.

  28. Great article. I would love to read this book. It sounds fascinating. My reading goal is to read ahead a little for book club and be ready to discuss the book for that month.

    Thanks for putting my name in the hat. Thanks also for having this contest. I would enjoy the fiction book. THANKS AGAIN!!

    Nora St.Laurent
    Finding Hope Through Fiction

  29. Thanks for putting my name. Thanks also for having this contest Donna

  30. My goal last year was to start a blog reviewing my favorite books. Unfortunately, my memory needs improvement! I could tell you that I had read a book, and knew that I had liked it, but could not tell you much more! I am continuing and adding on to that goal this year, as starting the blog opened more doors for me than I could have ever imagined...and here I thought that I would be the only one reading my reviews! :)
    Keep up the amazing work! When I pick up a book and read that the publisher is Moody Fiction, I KNOW it is going to be excellent!


  31. In school I always got A's in creative writing. I love to write. But, because of "self-esteem" issues, I never felt I was good enough. So, this year, one of my goals is to put all my poems together and save them on a disk for my kids (all but one an adult now). Also, to try my hand a writing a small story. Sometimes as I go to bed or when I wake in the early morning, I have stories going on in my head... So, my challege to myself, is to put it down on paper (computer).

    As far as reading books, I am in a book club and we are always reading old and new. We will be reading a Jane Austin book in the next month or so.

  32. I'm not usre if it is too late to enter, but here goes anyway.

    My goal for reading this year is to take more time myself to read some of the many books I already own. I also would like to take the time to read some of the many magazines I receive.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net


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