Some people have asked how I expect to find time to read so many books. The short answer is: I read all the time. By way of offering some helpful advice, though, here are some specific things that I have done to increase both the quantity and quality of my reading.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) has many great quotes on the subject of reading, but the most helpful to me is this one: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” I am learning to discern which books are worthy of serious digestion, and reading through (most) others more quickly. While I was already a fast reader, this has greatly sped up the reading process, while allowing me to devote further concentration on the books from which I have the most to benefit.
I am typically reading several books at any given time. This keeps me from getting too bogged down in any one book, allowing it to grind my progress to a halt. I try to break my reading up strategically. For instance, I’ll read more substantial theological works in the morning right after my Bible study, when my mind is most prepared for learning. I devote some time at work to reading books about music, ministry, and music ministry. Evenings and weekends are given more to novels, biographies, and other lighter reading. I even try to have books that are broken up into smaller sections which makes for good bathroom reading (That’s right, I’ve admitted it. According to a magazine article I read last week, I’m not alone… this is apparently where men do most of their reading! After all, what else are we to do to pass the time?). Recently I’ve also gotten into audio books, so I can be “reading” while I drive. ChristianAudio.com offers a FREE book every month (this month is “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer), which is way too good to pass up.
The simple fact is, reading comes only at the expense of other activities. For me, what has been most notable has been the reduction in the amount of time devoted to sports & games, although this has been a gradual process that’s been going on for many years. I used to be very addicted to video games, and could spend entire days watching sports on TV. I now regret all the wasted years, because I have absolutely nothing to show for the thousands of hours idly spent on fruitless, mindless entertainment. I still love sports, and have not completely forsaken “fun”, but the time I currently spend on watching sports is a tiny fraction of what it once was, and video games have absolutely no attraction for me anymore. I used the word “sacrifice”, but replacing that time with reading and studying has been tremendously freeing, and more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.
The simple fact that I’ve set a measurable goal and made it public keeps my nose in the books when I am tempted to do something less productive!
Here’s a roundup of what I’ve read recently, and links to my reviews of those books:
- Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture, by Max McLean and Warren Bird
- Right Behind: A Parody of Last Times Goofiness, by Nathan Wilson
- Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers, by Patrick Kavannaugh
- A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God, by John Piper
- Christ and the Future: The Bible’s Teaching About the Last Things, by Cornelis Venema
Days remaining in 2010: 293/365
Books read in 2010: 18/100