Thursday, December 3, 2009

the quotes that taught me how to read

I believe many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand. (CS Lewis' introduction to Athanasius' On the incarnation.)

Unless reading is your passion, you may need to be very deliberate about setting aside time to read. You may need to force yourself to do it. Set yourself a reasonable target ... and work towards it. Set aside time every day or every week and make sure you pick up the book during those times. Find a book dealing with a subject of particular interest to you. (Challies 10 tips to read more and read better)

It just a few years ago that I decided, mostly on a whim, that I would try to read a book each week for what I hoped would be the rest of my life. ... I read all the time, or most of it ... It is amazing how many ten and fifteen minute periods there are in life that can be used for reading ... a bathroom break is the perfect time to read a page or two of a book. ... I begin by giving the book a quick scan ... I read with a pencil in hand ... and highlight liberally. I also tend to jot short notes and questions in the margins or at the end of chapters. ... By doing all of this, I am making the book my own ... [W]ork on a system that works for you and stick with it. But don’t be afraid to mark your books. (Challies Random thoughts on reading)

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. (C.S. Lewis)

If you would like to become a disciplined reader, you probably need to make a plan. Make a list of books that you would like to read ... How many books would you like to read per month? How much time can you devote per day or per week? What time of the day is best for you? ... [A]lways carry a book. ... If possible, drink and read at the same time. ... There are few things in life better than settling down to a good book ... with a steaming cup of tea or coffee at hand. ... Start or join a reading group. ... Read with a pen in hand. (Bruce Ashford How should I read? from On disciplined reading).

Write in your books; mark them up and make them yours. Books are to be read and used, not collected and coddled. [Make an exception here for those rare antiquarian books that are treasured for their antiquity. Mark not thy pen on the ancient page, and highlight not upon the manuscript.] Invent your own system or borrow from another, but learn to have a conversation with the book, pen in hand. (Albert Mohler Some thoughts on the reading of books)

I would challenge you to throw off the notion that weighty books of doctrine are joy-squelching, while light devotional books are joy-producing ... Raking is easier than digging, but you only get leaves. If you dig you may get diamonds. ... It is a tragedy that hard thinking has come to be associated with cold hearts. (John Piper When I Don't Desire God 125-7)

My memory is not very good, so I don't remember what's in books if I don't make some effort to preserve the content ... So I do a lot of underlining and marginal commenting. ... I always use pencil instead of pen ... When I read some remarkable insight or illustration, I will chose a 1-3 word phrase that captures what it is about, write it in small print inside the flap, and then put the page number beside it. And I'll draw a line down the middle of the page so that I make two columns. And by the time I'm done I may have 100 or so of these references, filling 2-4 pages. (John Piper How do you remember what you read? and see Meet John Piper).

I feel what I read. ... I pick fruit and I pause and I eat it. (John Piper The Pastor as Scholar).


Valori said...

It's me again, Jean. Kind of continuing from the comment on the last post and moving into this one . . . With my women's ministry responsibilities, I've read several "extra" books this year on women's issues, but I really prefer to work slowly through a "rich" book. I think I told you before that it took me a couple of years to get through Gurnall's Christian in Complete Armour, and that was the modern version! I feel like I know the author and have been pastored by him in a way. With so many new and good books out there, I can at times feel pressure to get to them all, so it was wonderful to just slowly digest an old book. That's why I totally love the quote that you put in here by C.S. Lewis about reading authors from a different era. Now I am reading Packer's updated version of Keep in Step with the Spirit, and I am amazed at the broad view he has of the church and his understanding of the times. He is very good at perceiving the errors of the past, as well as the errors of our own day. And he is good at seeing the strengths and benefits of different "movements" that may have had a lot of erroneous thinking in them -- very discerning. Anyway, just a few meandering thoughts . . . Have a wonderful day!

Jean said...

Lovely to have your meandering reflections, Valori! You enrich my day.