How the French Revolution Hijacked my Reading Challenge

When Tim Challies throws down a reading challenge for 2017, I have no choice but to pick it up. Seriously, if you know me at all, you know I’m not kidding. And, in the same way I do most things, I dive into the crazy end of the pool. I don’t commit to the “light reader” plan. I go all in. You can read about his challenge here:

So, I’m blitzing past the first two on the list – a biography and a classic novel. I slam into the third one – a book about history. I decide, completely in random fashion, as per usual, to find a book on the French Revolution. I have no idea why, except I was probably thinking about cake, which leads everyone back to the French Revolution. Right?


I look up the topic on amazon and search through the top picks. I land on one that has fantastic reviews and I buy it for a ridiculous amount of money on my kindle, and settle in for an interesting read, thinking I can knock this one out in a matter of days.

People. I’m not going to tell you the name of the book, for fear that some of you have it sitting on your bookshelves in the “must read again” section. Meanwhile, I am totally lost. The author just assumes from the beginning of the book that his readers are smarter than I actually am, and doesn’t explain things that seem to me to require an explanation. Do any of you just already know what the First, Second, and Third Estates of France prior to the revolution are? Please say no. Apparently, I was supposed to.

And to up the challenge, the author also liberally drops french words into the text. They just appear, with no translation. Wait, what? Was I supposed to be able to read French to understand this? Why did none of the reviewers tell me this? Can they all read French?!

And then, no matter how much I read, I can’t seem to get past ten percent of the book. I didn’t think to look up how long the book actually is. It’s 500 pages. 500 pages of things i should already know about written in part in a language I should be able to understand.


I refuse to let my reading challenge get derailed by the French, and so while I’m faithfully plodding away and trying to get through it, I moved on and finished the next three categories in the reading challenge. And that’s the last time I let my reading material be influenced by my love for baked goods.

Just kidding. I’m sure it’s not the last time.