Reading is my hobby. It’s one I never thought I’d take up. However, due to the volumes I was required to read in seminary the habit turned into a joy. So much of one that now when I come home from conferences it’s not uncommon I return with many free books. In fact, the picture to the left of this paragraph shows the amount of free books I received at one conference alone. Humorously, my wife has requested that I not purchase any more books until I read or discard of some of the ones I currently own. Yet, there still remain some I can’t go without purchasing anyway. In truth, my wife has a point, which is why I developed a plan to be more selectively towards what I read. It’s a plan that I think can benefit anyone at any reading level. So here are my suggestions:
- Read the Best
A few years ago my friend and I, Tom Hicks, were discussing how to not read everything, but how to read a lot. In summary his advice was, “Read the best!” This sound advice I’ve found to be true, but the question still remains, “How do we determine the best books?” My answer involves a few tests.
- Seek Out Authors Who Are Dead
As morbid as this may sound, hear me out. No matter what genre of books you prefer there is a never endless supply of books one could read. In fact, as I’ve read a vast amount of books over the years there is one thing I’ve found; many of them repeatedly say the same thing. Therefore, a weeding out process I use it to choose authors who are dead. This is because if people today are still talking about their books then the content has stood the test of time. The way they write and the things they say are worthy enough of our attention because something about their writing has reflected quality over time.
- Seek Out Books That Are Ten Years Or Older
Local bookstores feature all the best-selling books prominently. Some of these books a year from now will not be best sellers. Some will, but even some of those are still not the best. Literature fads come and go and as they do the wisdom in these books may not apply over time. However, if someone is talking about a book ten years after it was first published there is a strong chance it’s advice will be a valuable investment of our time.
- Enjoy Some Recent Authors
So far I have argued that we should focus on older books and authors. While this approach can be helpful, admittedly it can ignore current events. In response to this it’s helpful to have a few favorite authors. Try to limit it to only five or less and include authors from different genres. This way you can stay current with recent topics while enjoying your favorite modern authors too.
- Enjoy Some Current Books
Lastly, list out some of your favorite topics or genres you like to read. For example, I love books on leadership and on grace. As a result, I will consider buying a more recent book on either topic. For others I know they enjoy certain types fiction and this tip allows them to include those areas too.
Like my posts on journaling, you are free to disagree or adapt my approach to your own needs. Again, I share with you what has found helpful for me. My aim is to enjoy reading than getting bogged down in the piles of books could be read. Rather, I want us all to focus on the best works, both past and present. This way our hobby of reading energizes us than drains us. So please alter these tips anyway needed and let’s learn for life as we read together.