Reading Goals for 2013
Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 8:32AM
Ben Simpson in Books, Life, Reading, goals

read up!

It's no secret that books stand atop my list of passions. I read them, I write about them, I discuss them, and with the wrong audience, I come across as a guy who simply wants to discuss the latest book I have read (a painful lesson I learned in 2012). For the past three years, I have logged every book I have read in a notebook, keeping track of the number and making small notations for titles I deeply enjoyed. I've read plenty of Christian living and theology titles, but I've also read stirring novels, thought provoking non-fiction, and a number of leadership/business books. In 2010, I read 118 books. In 2011, I read 139 titles. In 2012, I read 83.

My goal next year is to read less.

As I look back over the titles I have read, I haven't always read wisely. I'm the type of person that likes to finish what I begin, so whenever I start a book, I believe I owe the author a complete reading. Or because a book has appeared on a "best of" list or recommended by someone I respect, I think I should try to tackle that book to remain in the loop. I've read some trendy books that have ignited controversy in evangelicalism, for instance, that keep me informed about the state of the discourse. But those same books discourage me, at times, for I know that within a decade, or even less, the book that opened a fissure will not be remembered nor even discussed, and that weightier and more important books are ignored in favor of the new, to our collective detriment.

Stepping back and evaluating my habits has led me to resolve to read much more selectively and more slowly, more deeply and contemplatively. Whether it be critical scholarly works or Christian classics, time tested fiction, or well researched social-science, 2013 won't be a year of volume, but of mass. That's why N. T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God, John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, and Wesley's Sermons are near the top of my priorities. I also plan to carefully select works of fiction, like Moby Dick or A Tale of Two Cities or Jane Eyre, and read them carefully and slowly. Chris Smith may be on to something.

My first experiment in reading less, and reading slower, began in 2012 with the Psalms. That might be my most important assignment of all. I'll be reading and attempting to memorize these treasured writings, hoping they will find a way in to the texture of my life. My Bible reading plan for the coming year isn't to move through the entire book, but to focus in on one book that I think will profit me during this season of my life. Why do I think this book will profit me? Because I believe it will teach me how to pray.

I'll post my initial list in the next few days. Everyone is invited, of course, to read what I read and explore what I'm exploring;  to discuss what is learned. Communal ventures are more fun than individualistic pursuits.  

Better readings emerge that way.

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