Disciplined reading

Fuelled by my 2010 reading resolution, I’ve gone into a reading frenzy for the past two weeks. I finished a booklet in two days (Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur Jr) and have started on three books (the first three from my reading resolution, two of which I’ve gone half way through). But truth is, I don’t love to read. I would rather watch TV or surf the net anytime, but I realised there’s so much to glean and learn from books. It’s really discipline, to read rather than watch TV or surf the net whenever I have time. In fact, I think I don’t surf the net that much anymore, which is a good thing.

Anyway, Justin Taylor summarised a series on disciplined reading from the Between the Times blog. Ah… I love summaries, ’cause I don’t have to read the entire thing myself. =P But seriously, I think there’s some really good advice and tips bout reading.

On “what” to read, these principles are offered:

  1. Guard your time in the Scriptures.
  2. Avoid limiting yourself by era, tribe, or category.
  3. Reading the great authors is more helpful than reading a great number of books.
  4. Make a list of categories and read a selected number of books each year, in each category.
  5. Read a few select journals and magazines

I think reading books should never replace reading of Scripture. No matter how good a writer’s exposition of the Word of God is, it is still second-hand. It can serve as a commentary, but we must be inspired by the Holy Spirit when we read the Bible ourselves. I try to read books on topics that I’m personally interested in so that I don’t lose interest from the start. And you usually can’t go wrong with some authors, e.g. John MacArthur, John Piper, A.W. Tozer, etc. (I personally love Philip Yancey, but some don’t agree with me. Someone told me that she found him too ‘imaginative’. Whatever that means.)

On “how” to read, here are some tips:

  1. If you would like to become a disciplined reader, you probably need to make a plan.
  2. Figure out your “reading style.”
  3. Always carry a book.
  4. If possible, drink and read at the same time.

Since the start of the year, on weekday nights, after watching Oprah on cable (yes, I’m trashy) and perhaps News on Channel U, I would retreat to my room to read. I usually clock one hour of reading a night. On weekends, after having QT in the morning, I would read some more. Wow. Come to think of it, I’ve been reading a lot. But it’s the truth: if you grab every opportunity to read, you would find that you do have time to read.

On “why” to read, it is suggested that reading does the following:

  1. sharpens the mind
  2. exercises the mind
  3. gives one something about which to converse
  4. allows one to “travel” to other times and places
  5. reduces stress
  6. provides an inexpensive and low maintenance form of entertainment

In the final post, the writer answers questions he’s been asked throughout the series, on:

  1. How to find books to read
  2. How to find time to read
  3. How to choose between print and electronic media
  4. How to keep discipline from being drudgery
  5. How to retain and organize what is learned from a book

If you would like your reading to be more effective, read through the original posts.

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