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    Entries in goals (2)


    My Most Radical Goal for 2013

    Amazon logo atop the Kindle 3

    As each year turns, I pause to evaluate and set goals. Some stick, some don't. I write them down so that at year's end I can revisit them, see how many I've forgotten, how many I've acheived, and how many I've surpassed. Most of the goals our family achieved in 2012 were financial. I was about three pounds short on my weight loss goal. Most of my writing and professional goals fizzled in January, but that doesn't mean that I accomplished nothing. I ended my time with the bus company, I established my own small business over the summer, and I completed three short book manuscripts.

    I've yet to formalize all my goals for 2013, but I have settled on what I take to be the most radical. In 2013, I plan on purchasing zero books.

    Books are my primary recreation, pleasure, and source of inspiration. I read all the time. Looking over my shelves, it dawned on me that I am a very wealthy man. I am rich, and a good portion of our family's riches goes towards my increase of books. If I'm not populating my own shelves, I'm adding to my digital collection, now numbering an additional 250+ titles.

    In addition to the books I own, I borrow from the library quite frequently. Those books keep me from enjoying purchases I've already made, books that await my company. Over the past few years, I've worked to cull our library, giving away and selling various titles I have no intention of reading or looking at again. Nearly every book we own has been thoughtfully retained. The author is often counted as a friend, and I'm grateful for their company. I know that if I were given the space and the time, books would take up even more of my life than they already do. As long as I live, I intend to increase my friendships with those who write, and those who have written.

    So for the next twelve months, I'll remain content with the friends I have. This does not mean that I won't read beyond the books I already own--the library will still be a resource. Nor does it mean that this is a law--charity or participation in a study of some kind might precipitate a purchase, in order to build community around a book. I've also imagined it may be that I visit a place like Eighth Day Books or some other local retailer. If I do, I may buy a title to help an independent seller. My wife is a pastor, and has a continuing education budget, and I will have to resist the temptation to drop hints her way. Molly also pointed out that I receive review requests from time to time, or someone may send along a book for me to read. As long as I'm not buying, I'm free to accept.

    This decision appears to me to be a sort of fasting, and I plan to treat it as such. I must resist the temptation to consume more and more. Additionally, the money I do not spend can be put to other uses. We have a number of needs in the coming year, and long-term savings goals to work toward. There may also be some unforeseen good that I can do.

    Amazon, I'll be seeing less of you. As for the books I already possess, let's be friends in 2013.


    Reading Goals for 2013

    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.