Monday, April 2, 2012

how to choose what to read (what I'm reading: Tony Reinke's Lit!)

"For every one book that you choose to read, you must ignore ten thousand other books simply because you don't have the time" (page 94). So says Tony Reinke in Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books.

He gives some hints. Choose carefully. Decide why you're reading a book before you read it. Don't finish the book if it's not achieving anything. Read bits of some books, and all of other books. Yes, it's true: you don't always have to read all of a book!

How do you choose what to read? At the start of each year, I make a list of books I want to read in particular categories. Tony recommends something similar. Here are his six categories (yours will look different - except the first, I hope):

  1. Reading Scripture - both in big chunks, and small bits for close study

  2. Reading to know and delight in Christ - theological books about Jesus, his cross and resurrection

  3. Reading to kindle spiritual reflection - this can include anything from a book of poems or an autobiography to a Christian novel

  4. Reading to initiate personal change - such books pack the shelves of Christian bookshops, but must be chosen and read with care, or they will lead to legalism or pride: books on Christian living, prayer, anxiety, parenting etc. Choose ones that major on the gospel and biblical truth (e.g. Tim Chester, Ed Welch, Jerry Bridges, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Paul Tripp).

  5. Reading to pursue vocational excellence - business, writing, teaching, studying, homemaking, etc.

  6. Reading to enjoy a good story - yes, it is okay for Christians to read for joy not just usefulness! More about that next week.

Why not go away and write a list of categories you'd like to read in this year? (You can check out mine here here and here.) Then choose some books (you can ask me for ideas, or ask someone you trust). Just make sure you include the Bible and books about Jesus' death and resurrection. And a little something just for fun!

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image is by pamhule at flickr

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