Having finished YouVersion's Cell Rule of Optina read-through of the New Testament by Thanksgiving, and planning to start a new chronological plan at the end of the year, I wanted something short to take me through Christmas. I chose Before the Cross: the Life of Jesus, which was billed this way: "This 80 day reading plan takes you through the four Gospels, in chronological order, walking through the life of Jesus from His birth to His ascension into Heaven." That's almost true, though they did leave out some of the less action-oriented passages. I easily compressed the 80 days into one month.
I also switched versions of the Bible for this reading. My favorite versions are either the old New International Version or the old Revised Standard Version, neither of which is often accessible in online form. I had been using the English Standard Version on my phone, which is a little modern for me but not bad. This time I decided to try the New King James Version. I'd heard a lot of positive talk about the NKJV, but I was not impressed. I was expecting a reworking of the beautiful-but-outdated King James Version that takes into account all we've learned in the field of Bible scholarship since the early 1600's. Maybe it's not outdated anymore, I don't know—but I do know it's no longer beautiful. Why produce yet another Bible stripped of its poetic language? We had plenty of those already.
Now that I've finished the Before the Cross plan, I've committed to another year-long chronological plan. Not the chronological plan I started with; that was a great one, but why not try another one, since there isn't completely agreement on chronology? This is called Reading God's Story: One-Year Chronological Plan, and this time I've chosen to use the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
I'm still gung-ho about the YouVersion system. Granted, most of their reading plans are not what I'm looking for (too short, too slow, too embellished, too disjointed), but I still find what I need. And having it right there, on my phone, easy to access, easy to keep track of—priceless.
The link to "Reading God's Story..." is broken. But that's the same one I picked! Be warned that every 7th day is blank, and I can't figure out how to check off that day, because there was nothing to read!
Fixed, thanks. The 6 days/week format is annoying, but I learned when I fit 80 days into a month that I can use the "catch me up" feature (under Settings) backwards to line things back up when I get ahead. Tomorrow is my seventh day, so I'll see how it works with this one. It's fun that we're doing it together. Where are you? Obviously past the 7th day....
I completed day 15 today.
When I first installed YouVersion I was very enthusiastic about it, because what matters most to me in a mobile bible app is quick access. At the time, a couple of years ago, it was a lightweight app that loaded quickly, and its method of getting to a different book, chapter, and verse was much quicker than, for instance, a copy of the Bible in iBook. But since then they've added features and the app has slowed so greatly that I turn to Olive Tree for my own use. I've kept YouVersion around, though, because it offers free access to the version I've been reading to my kids from: the CEV.
With the proviso that it's a so-called "thought for thought" version, and unsuited to word study, I must say it's doing a good job not only of putting the syntax and vocabulary at a level that is easily digestible for 4-6 years, with the occasional vocabulary definition, but also of providing a natural, fluid, conversational tone for reading aloud. I tried to find a nice print version for them and found that almost all the Bibles marketed for kids used the International Children's Bible, which I found so stilted, with its first-grade-essay short sentences, that it might be easier for young readers but actually interfered with read-aloud comprehension. I finally found this lavishly illustrated one, and am so excited about it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400316030.
For my own use, I'm staunchly in favor of the ESV, mostly because I have such a big crush on the people like John Piper and Wayne Grudem who are behind it. But I must confess to the opposite sentiment from yours--at times it's too non-vernacular for me. Sometimes a little inversion of syntax makes things such a hint of poetry that it's easy to forget momentarily that these are real people, who (in most passages) were speaking their own casual vernacular. (Actual books of poetry and "songs" are of course another matter.) I used to turn to The Message for my "make it real" translation, but am glad to have discovered one that isn't so belabored with forced colloquialism.