I was thinking recently about some goals for my life, and one of them was that I wanted to do some intentional reading in 2008. I read a lot, all the time really, but not very much of it is what you might call intentional or planned or with a purpose. I’ve always been a “jump reader,” meaning that I jump from one book to another without ever finishing any of them. I suppose I’m currently “reading” 30 different books in the sense that I dip in here and dip in there and read a chapter or two. But I never seem to get around to finishing any of them. It always sounds impressive to say, “I’m reading 30 books,” not that anyone ever asks me. So I thought to myself, “You should do some serious reading this year.”
That led me to decide that I would read ten substantial books this year, substantial defined as something more than a comic book or a thin paperback. Not something that for me would be an easy read, like a coffee table book about the History of the Chocolate Milk Shake. A substantial book for me would be . . .
1) A book that challenges me,
2) Of longer than average size,
3) In an area of personal interest,
4) That I would actually enjoy reading,
5) And feel good about once I finished.
So it’s a personal list, meaning that my ten books wouldn’t match anyone else’s list, but it would be a list that wouldn’t feel like a burden but an enjoyable challenge. And it would take me most of the year to get the job done.
Then I decided to break it down further:
That last category doesn’t mean strange, it just mean books I wouldn’t normally consider that don’t fit into one of the earlier categories. So far I have picked out my first four books:
Commentary on Acts by Darrell Bock
Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. by D. A. Carson and Gregory Beale
Boswell’s Life of Johnson
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The first two are hefty tomes of New Testament interpretation that will take me a long time to read. Boswell’s Life of Johnson is a 217-year-old classic. The book on Lincoln is in the 30 books I’ve dipped into lately. A great study on Lincoln and the men in his cabinet.
That’s what I have so far. Since I’ve got a lot of reading already on my plate, I’m in no hurry to fill out the remaining six books. I’m sure one of the books will be about China. I figure that I’ll run into the other books later this year more or less by chance, and I’ll say, “That’s a book I need to read this year.”
I actually thought about starting a website called “The Ten Books Club” because I think this is a useful idea. That way we could share our reading lists and encourage each other. Maybe I’ll do that eventually. But for the moment let me ask you some questions:
What are you reading right now?
What do you recommend?
What book would you like to read this year that you haven’t started?
Click here to offer your responses and recommendations.