Friday, June 8, 2012

Good Words on Reading

This is from a new friend, Sean DeMars.  You can find his great website by clicking HERE.  And you should do so now.

I love what he says about reading in this post I'm quoting below.  I'm the kind of reader who is always tempted to feel guilty if I'm "breaking up" with a book before I've read it all.  Trying to outgrow that...

Here's Sean...


  • Get a whole bunch of books that you are really interested in. 
  • Start reading a chapter from each one of them. 
  • Decide, after 2 or 3 chapters, which books aren’t worth your time (as of right now). 
  • Differentiate between the books you actually enjoy reading, and the books you know you “ought” to enjoy reading, but don’t. 

Now, follow along:

Take the books that, for the time being, aren’t worth your valuable time. Put them back on the bookshelf. Don’t forget about them, they may come in handy, but don’t let your conscience sear you, either. Make a clean break. If you have to, tell them that it’s not their fault, it’s yours. You’re just in a weird place in your life right now, a place where you just need to explore and be available for other books. Not better books, necessarily *wink*, just different books.

Now, for the second category: the books that you “ought” to enjoy reading -but you don’t- put them in a pile. These books can be unenjoyable for any number of reasons. I most often find myself feeling this way about books that have great content, particularly theological, but are dry, lifeless and just plain ol’ egg-shell white, make you wanna hit your head on a pole, boring. Again, for me personally, the Vern Poythress’ and John Owens of the world fall into this category. Both write extremely helpful, insightful, and rich books, but their excitement factor is roughly equivalent to an afternoon of toenail clipping or a women’s bowling marathon.

When you sit down to read, always start with one of these kinds of books. Commit to reading a chapter.  Get the bland out of the way as quickly as possible, before the fog of your autumn mind closes in on you, forcing you to hit the high-beams, resulting in reading fatigue and all around blah-crap-blah feelings. You chose these books for a reason. You know they have a purpose. You don’t have to read them all the way through, just read a chapter. You’re not any smarter when your eyes go cross and you haven’t actually read anything of the last four pages. Scanning from left to right with your eyes doesn’t beget information. Reading does.

Read a couple of those kinds of books. Now, obviously, not all books will be that bland. Some will be moderately fun to read. They can go in the aforementioned category. I’m not a category dictator. The Gestapo aren’t watching…waiting…waiting for you to make a mistake. After you’ve read two or three of the books in this second category (from “blah” to “meh”), read a book from our third category (the ones that you really enjoy!). Read as much of it as you like. If you enjoy it, read it until you have to force yourself to put it down.

Once you’ve done that, make it a point to read a few more chapters from a few more of the books in the second category. At the end of the day, you will have read books that range from aggrivatingly boring, to moderately entertaining, to really fuh-reakin! enjoyable. And, you were able to do it all without that blah-crap-blah feeling that can so often accompany large chunks of reading.

This can be a helpful strategy for college students, seminarians, or the average housewife and mom. Also, please feel free to make any adjustments. This isn’t “set in stone”, it’s just something that has worked for me. I’m weird. Maybe you’re not. Maybe normal people think this whole plan is whacky-doodle-doo. Do what works for you. (that rhymed)

I typically do this throughout the day. I don’t ever read 12 chapters at once. I’ll read a chapter or two (or, if it’s a really hard read, just one), and then I’ll take a break; go hug my wife; hold my baby. Hug myself. Whatever…

I hope this has been helpful. Part 2 will be coming soon…

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