Community Challenge 1: Reading Challenge


The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein, Paperback

Through this detailed amalgamation of carefully cited sources, sprinkled with the author’s analysis and conclusions, Richard Rothstein posits an uncomfortable truth about how federal, state, and local government were explicit and/or complicit in segregating many of the United States’ urban centers.

Highlighting policies dating back to the 19th century, Rothstein demonstrates that popular knowledge of the ways financial insitutiitions “redlined” certain neighborhoods offers an incomplete explanation as to how minorities, especially African-Americans, have been the victims of de jure segregation, that is, segregation by policy or law. Similarly, while many readers will enter the book with a general knowledge of Thomas Jefferson’s status as a slaveholder, many will be surprised to learn of the ways historical figures such as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were instigators or complicit actors in the carrying out of racist policies that prevented African-Americans from gaining a foothold on par with that of their white brothers and sisters.

The insight is both disturbing and hopeful, for only when wrongs are exposed can they be set right. Rothstein’s uncovering of a truth that was well-known in the post-war years but subsequently buried in the wake of “achievements” of the Civil Rights act is a must read for anyone who hopes to understand the history of the United States and its denizens.


The Book Nobody Read: Chasing The Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus, Owen Gingerich
Genre: Non Fiction
Source: Local public library, Hardcover

The Book Nobody Read chronicles the amazing personal quest by the author Owen Gingrich who set out to catalog all the known copies of Copernicus’ watershed treatise " De revolutionibus orbium coelestium". The author was inspired by another 1959 book by Arthur Koestler called “The Sleepwalkers” in which Koestler claimed that as famous as Copernicus eventually became…his famous book was actually an “all-time worst-seller”.

Gingerich set out to test Koestler’s hypothesis and in the process made some amusing discoveries of the first two editions of Copernicus’ book. He concluded that not only was the book widely read and traveled through collections of several famous people…but he also learnt a lot from the marginal notes made by the owners and helped establish the chronology of certain historical events. The author was also instrumental in helping law enforcement locate stolen copies of the book based on his extensive and detailed notes on each copy he had reviewed.

The progression of scientific thought and its clashes with religious beliefs and persecution has been a topic of great interest for me. I have read several books on related topics. Another one that comes to mind is “The Scientists” by John Gribbin…more famous for his other work…
“In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat”.

Gingerich’s chronicle is an excellent work that brings out the significance of how these early books were more than just another product on the assembly line but a living history of their
owner’s thoughts and comments and enriched with not just what was printed in them but all the markings and annotations through the passage of time.


Giving this a bump, as it’s the last day to add your book review.


If you enjoyed The Nightingale, here are a few others from the same time period in German-occupied France.

All the Light We Cannot See
The Zookeeper’s Wife
Sarah’s Key
The Lilac Girls (based on historical events and people)


I listened to the audiobook version of “Educated” by Tara Westover.
I found it to be a haunting memoir of a brilliant girl who lived through emotional and physical abuse to become an extraordinary young woman.
One of 7 children, she was raised in the mountains of Idaho by a bipolar father, a doormat of a mother, and suffered abuse of a sociopath brother and the neglect of her parents. After years of “homeschooling”, which provided no knowledge beyond bible verses and the antiquated English they were written in, she taught herself enough to do better on the ACT than most kids would have with a full education. She spent the next decade breaking away from the fundamentalist, conspiracy theories her father had convinced himself and his family were true. She went on to get multiple degrees from some of the top universities in the world.



Kind of late to this one but I cannot pass up a chance to share this extraordinary book.

Waking the Spirit by Andrew Schulman is about Andrew’s experience with the healing power of music. I read this book (in print) a couple of years ago when it came out, and I’m reading it again now. I stumbled upon it in my local library and the timing couldn’t have been better.

Andrew went through with flying colors what should have been and really was a pretty routine procedure to remove what appeared to be a mass on his pancreas. While he was being wheeled to ICU he crashed, and appeared to be close to death, from what his wife Wendy saw in the faces of his doctors and nurses throughout the next couple of days. They couldn’t stabilize him, his vital signs all over the place. They had put him in an induced coma and were in wait and see mode, and not very optimistic.

Wendy was looking in her purse for her phone to call Andrew’s mother when she spotted his iPod which he had loaded with his favorite music the night before the surgery. She wanted to try something and asked the doctor on duty if she could play it for Andrew. He said yes, but for no more than 30 minutes and she had to put one earbud in her ear to make sure volume wasn’t too loud. She played his favorite Bach piece for half an hour… It worked, it reached him. No spoilers here, obviously, since he wrote the book, but this is the beautiful story about his recovery, his commitment to helping other patients in the same ICU after his recovery and all the wonderful stories from that journey.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.


I just listened to The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis (read by Bahni Turpin)

This book was such a delight to listen to after quitting a book full of bad language. Miss Deza Malone was a positive, uplifting heroine throughout this novel. It really made me think about and appreciate the simpler things in life, like dental care and having a house and food each day. It is based on a black family in Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan in the early 1900’s. The reader was excellent and the story ended on a positive note after all their struggles.

So far Christopher Paul Curtis is 2/2 for me. I read Bud, Not Buddy to my boys a few years ago and we all loved it. My 12 year old has reread it at least 3 times to himself. I wish I had read this novel to my boys as well.

I plan to read Curtis’ other novels soon.


The Biggest “Prize” I’ve Already Received from This Reading Challenge:
I listened to and read a digital copy of a 140 page Spanish book in nine days. I started reading it on Saturday night, August 18th, and I finished it, Monday night, August 27th. The Linguist, written by Steve Kaufmann, is the 3rd Spanish book that I’ve finished reading this year, and it took me the least amount of time to do so. The time constraints of this Republic Wireless reading challenge helped me to achieve goals that I didn’t think were possible for me to do in Spanish.

I was very lackadaisical about reading my first Spanish book, El Camino a Cristo, so it took me around 9 months to read the 100 page book. It took me around 2.5 months or so to read my second Spanish book, Palabras De Vida Del Gran Maestro, which was around 300+ pages long. Now I just finished reading another Spanish book in 9 days.

My language learning goal for this year was to read at least 450 pages of Spanish. I have exceed that goal with time to spare. This challenge has shown me that with additional time and focus, I can be further along in my Spanish journey at a pace that I could not imagine.

Now, I believe this challenge has set a new bar for me reading books in Spanish. I’m not saying I’m going to read another book in 9 days, but most definitely I’ve seen that it doesn’t need to take me 2 months to read another 146 page book.

I recently stumbled upon this quote below about goal setting. I believe goals aren’t the source of happiness, but the later part of the quote really resonated with me.

"The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them, but we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.”

Source: Bufferapp

This quote inspires me to push myself more in Spanish continually in order to continually grow.

Why I Chose to Read This Language Learning Motivational Book:

For many years, I have said I wanted to learn Spanish, but when I finished my Duolingo Spanish tree in April 2017, I finally convinced myself I was serious. I had reasoned to myself that if I could decide the time and focus to complete that course then I was doing more than mere talking. I had started and stopped doing that Duolingo course several times, but finally I completed it.

Ever since I was seriously doing Duolingo, I have been in continual search of resources on how to learn a language. The more I study how to study a language, I’ve learned more and more about the intensity, focus, time, and determination required to be truly successful. Last year, I read a blog post about the input hypothesis that transformed the way I pursued learning Spanish. “The input hypothesis was formally defined by Dr. Stephen Krashen, a linguist specializing in second language acquisition at the University of Southern California. It basically states that input (reading and listening—passive activities) is the most important part of learning a language, and output (speaking or writing) is secondary.” That blog post gave powerful examples of people who applied the input hypothesis and reached a high level in their target language.

Especially for the majority of this year, reading and listening to things in Spanish has been my daily habit. Sometimes, even when I’m in Wal-mart, I listen to things in Spanish.

Steve Kaufmann is a famous polygot on YouTube. I’ve watched several of his videos on his YouTube channel, and I’ve read several of his articles on his blog about language learning, which basically embraces the input hypothesis. Also, one main reason I can read so fast in Spanish is because I use his app, LingQ as well as the desktop version of LingQ.

I wanted to read Steve Kaufmann’s book, The Linguist, because I wanted to know more of his language learning background and most importantly more of his philosophy on language learning.

How the LingQ App Helped Me to Read A Language Motivational Book in 9 Days:.

When I read my Spanish first book, I didn’t use LingQ. El Camino a Cristo a book that was much higher than my reading level, but I didn’t care; I believed that my mind would gradually get accustomed to that reading level if reading on that level became a habit. I went through the slow and tedious process of trying to read what I could in a paper copy. However, in almost every sentence I had to look something up in Google Translate. I also had a digital copy of the book, so I would highlight the word or phrase I didn’t know, and then I would copy and paste it into Google Translate. I would then write the meaning of those words or phrases in English in my book. Slowly but surely, I finished. My reading really progressed when I created the goal for myself of reading 1 page a day, 5 days a week. It took me around 30 minutes to read one page.

I changed my methods of reading, and I started using LingQ (especially the desktop version) to read my second Spanish book. Now, basically every day, I use LingQ to read. I read and listened to the Linguist solely on my Huawei Ascend 5W phone I got from Republic Wireless using the LingQ app. (By the way, while I was reading The Linguist, I got a new update to the LingQ app, and it enables me to look up phrases of words on my Android, which is helpful. This feature still needs improvement, but I really appreciate the update because it has helped me read even faster).

LingQ is very helpful because I look up the definition of unknown words faster, which allows me to read faster. The more I can read the better reader I become. Because I can read some, I watch Spanish Youtube videos with Spanish subtitles, which helps me listen better. Reading and listening to native Spanish materials helps me understand what other people are saying and helps prepare me for speaking and writing. Babies spend a lot of time absorbing a language, which helps them output it in the future.

I also like LingQ because it tracks my reading progress.

I can also import my own books I want to read into LingQ as well, which is a big plus. I get to read material that I’m interested in and still learning Spanish. This is a win-win situation to me. :slight_smile:

Some Things I Liked About The Language Motivational Book, The Linguist:

  • Steve Kaufmann emphasized that success in acquiring a second language doesn’t depend on the teacher, but the students. A teacher can only inspire students, but students themselves have to take language learning seriously. This echos the sentiments of YouTube polygot, Luca Lampariello, who said: “Nobody can teach you a language. You and only you can learn a language.” I’m personally an independent Spanish learner, so I liked the encouragement I received in this book. You might like to read Steve’s article called “Why We Need Language Teachers.”

  • Steve said to learn a second language, one must be courageous and rise above the fear of the unknown. I appreciated reading those sentiments because I’m in a lot of situations where I don’t understand everything I read or hear in Spanish–including The Linguist. Since June 6, I’ve gone to a Spanish church 16 times, and I definitely haven’t understood everything; I’m growing nevertheless because using Spanish is a daily habit for me.

  • He wrote that we can really only learn a language when its in an interesting and significant context to us. Steve is in favor of people reading interesting materials in their target language. As they become naturally familiar with the language, they will eventually notice language patterns and become better in grammar. He’s not a proponent of heavy grammar study.

  • People shouldn’t be afraid of committing mistakes in their target language. The fear of making mistakes is one of the biggest hinderances to true language learning. Steve encouraged language learners to use the language and seek to continually improve instead of worrying over whether or not we will make mistakes.

  • Steve shared his own language journey. I learned how his language learning helped him in various jobs and how it even was very useful in setting up his own international business among other things.

My Big Spanish Goal:
Now, that I’ve finished reading The Linguist, what’s next my next Spanish goal? My immediate plan is to finish reading my 4th Spanish book, Los Hechos De Los Apostles, in September. I’m 1/3 of the way finished with reading it already. I also plan to continue to watch Spanish YouTube videos and listen to things in Spanish when I have opportunity. My ultimate goal is to spend at least 1,000 hours with Spanish, primarily focused on input (reading and listening) and speaking and writing when I have opportunity. If I only read and listened to things in Spanish for 5 minutes a day, 7 days a week, it would take me 33 years to reach 1,000 hours. However, my 1,000 hour goal should be met sometime in 2019; I’ve learned more and more about the time and focus required to learn a language, and this reading challenge has helped me understand that even further.


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (e-book via public library, read with the Kindle app on my Republic Wireless phone)

Have you ever thought that everything you need to know in life you can learn from basketball? Even if you haven’t, you might be convinced after reading “The Crossover,” a fast-paced and rhythmic novel written in verse. Set categories aside – this is a book for everyone, not just young adults. You will be on the edge of your seat as you meet this close-knit family and experience the laughs, sorrows, and challenges that life throws at them.

Josh and Jordan Bell are twin brothers, seventh graders, who play on the same basketball team. They carry on a tradition started by their father, who played ball himself before leaving the game for reasons unclear to his boys. A rift develops between the brothers as Jordan develops a love interest outside of the game. Jealousy spills onto their court performance too and threatens the team’s championship hopes. Meanwhile, their father must face a reckoning of his own even as he continues to teach the boys the rules that govern both basketball and life.

You will smile and you may even cry as you read this book. I highly recommend you share it with others, especially if you have kids who perhaps don’t like to read. This is a book they might find easy to read (especially aloud) and relatable. They might even get hungry for more. Luckily, a prequel, “Rebound,” can satisfy that craving.


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Don’t forget to vote for your favorite book review in our Community Challenge 1: Reading Challenge!

Your votes pick the prize winners!



Hi all!

Sorry, I forgot Monday, September 3 was a holiday when I set up this challenge! Thanks for all the participation and votes!

Due to the small number of votes, the prizes can’t be distributed as initially anticipated. We’ll make the best of it, though!

Based on the poll (which auto-closed based on the giveaway rules) we have the following list of winners:

First place Members’ Picks winners: $25 Tangocard* and a Republic Wireless T-shirt

Rocket Men - submitted by @warriorpoet06

and a three-way tie for the other first-place slot:

Letters to Alaska - submitted by @michaelb.rb2yii
The Color of Law - submitted by @lee_v
Watership Down - submitted by @AUser.Resau

Three second place Members’ Picks winners: $20 Tangocard* and a Republic Wireless T-shirt

Goodnight Moon - submitted by our class clown, @louisdi
Mis(h)adra - submitted by @happywillow0
The Witch of Willow Hall - submitted by @susanb.sxa6zf

Third place Members’ Picks winners: $10 Tangocard* and a Republic Wireless T-shirt

The Nightingale - submitted by @michellen
The Lies of Locke Lamora - submitted by @double_virgule
Burning Bright - submitted by @kperik

I’ll be in touch with each of you later tonight, by personal message, for shirt sizes, addresses, and gift card distribution. (Please do not reply to this message with that information.)

Eligible members for the random drawing for five $10 Amazon gift cards:

Sleeping Giants - submitted by @gabrieln.0ldgly
Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence - submitted by @samuelb.38bhgc
The Book Nobody Read - submitted by @amitl
Educated - submitted by @curllyq
Waking the Spirit - submitted by @rosedoodle
The Mighty Miss Malone - submitted by @katieh.9cxfkl
The Linguist - submitted by @aFloridian
The Crossover - submitted by @cbeans

Since the drawing would leave only three of our participants without a prize, we will simply award all eight of our participants who are eligible for the random drawing with a $10 Amazon gift card. I’ll be in touch to distribute those gift cards later tonight.

Thank you all for participating!

And now you may be wondering… what’s the next challenge?

:muscle:We’re gearing up for a fitness challenge! :running_woman: Watch for details later in September, or submit your ideas here as to what would make you feel inspired to join the Community Fitness Challenge! :trophy:


I resent the implication that my review was not serious. Alerting the community to issues with a book that we’ve been blindly reading to our children for 70 years may have been the most important thing I did that day.

And, thank you.


Thanks for the giftcard! :slight_smile:


Woohoo! Thanks!!


Thank you so much! Made my day :slight_smile:


What do fellow RW community members think about this potential fitness challenge:

In 200 words or more, write a story about your fitness journey in the past 30 days that will inspire someone to get more exercise. Your story can include a single fitness event or a multiple ones in the past 30 days. It can also include pictures and etc.


Very cool. Thank you!


Thanks for the gift card!