Reading Like It's Important

Reading a book closely with a magnifying glass

Here’s seven tips on getting more out of your reading time by, oh good grief, I can’t believe I’m linking to this, Rick Warren, author of the The Purpose-Driven Life. I have no one to blame but myself. Anyway, it’s valuable advice for anyone reading something they consider important. Good advice for someone who, like me, tries to read even fiction of life and death importance.

Analyze Your Reading Habits

I sort of do this on the fly, making stacks of books to read and then ignoring them, worrying that I read like an old man, obsessing over the fiction to non-fiction ratio in my recently read pile. Warren wants you to be intentional about your reading. I do too. I like to pretend I’m a little crazy about it but it’s all very healthy.

Schedule Time For Reading

Warren points out that setting aside 15 minutes a day for reading knocks 24 books a year off your reading list. That’s 15 minutes a day. Don’t have 15 minutes? You could do what my father does and read during TV commercials.

Balance Your Reading

Warren’s idea of balance means branching out. Read something you’re not used to reading or would normally never read in a million years (The Purpose-Driven Life?). I recently started doing this myself whenever I find myself in waiting rooms. Instead of reading backwards through Maclean’s and Time I’ll read sports, business, and even equestrian magazines. At the very least it’ll make you less boring.

Don’t Just Read A Book Respond To It

Underline a sentence in the book you’re reading currently. Just try it. You can even use a pencil if you want. Or if you’re a little shy maybe just dog ear a page with a moving passage. C’mon, you can do it. Our sons and daughters will thank you. And, guess what, you’ll be making a connection with that book, the author and yourself. That doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Know What Not To Read

Warren points out that, “many Christian books are not worth reading.” The same goes for any genre of book. Do yourself a favor, read only the good stuff. Shoot for noble, not vulgar.

Make A Monthly Trip To The Library

Or, if you’re like me – I hate the Library – the used bookstore.

Build Your Own Library

Now we’re talking. This is something I’ve been doing for years. Look up at the preceding advice. Take it to heart when you’re out there buying your books and you’ll have a nice little wall of paper friends in your house one day.

6 responses to “Reading Like It's Important”

  1. Kelli Stewart Avatar
    Kelli Stewart

    I read our son your blog today.
    “Paper friends?” he asked.
    “A book is a paper friend.” I explained.
    “Who is your favourite paper friend?”
    “My favourite paper friend is Mowgli! and all the stories.”

  2. Kelli – my wife by the way, everyone, – it’s fun having the best son in the world isn’t it?

  3. By simply browsing the backlist of NYRB classics allows me to meet a lot of books way out of my range — that’s my excuse for skipping Mr. Warren’s no doubt very informative book.

    Also I like to shoot for the occasional vulgarity.

  4. Good advice. I have much more time than 15 minutes to read, fortunately, but that is partly because like you I drag along a book wherever I go. If I have to wait, no problem – it is an opportunity to read. With audio books my commute and dog walking chores also are put to good use. Libraries are essential though – I couldn’t stand the thought of only reading books I could afford. And besides, I don’t want to own them – I would have to buy a bigger house just for the books and my wife and I are quite comfy in a little home (over run with books even as it is).

    But, more importantly, why do you read magazines backwards? About 43 years ago I was reading a magazine backwards (as always) and came across a full page ad asking in big block letters, “Are you reading this magazine from the back to the front? And if so, are you left handed?” Indeed, I am. I have been wondering about that ever since.

    So why do you read them backwards?

  5. I hate the library and there’s no used bookstore’s nearby… which is why my main options are new books with the occassional used one from eBay. Though never the library!

    Must balance my reading… I only read fiction! 😀

  6. Imani, it’s okay to shoot for vulgarity once in a while – i do too – as long as we don’t shoot at nobility.

    Clemens, my brain thinks I’m left-handed, I’m artistic and whatnot, but the body doesn’t agree, I’m right-handed and rigidly logical. Anyway, why do I read magazines backwards? Two reasons. Firstly, my grandmother did and I thought it was neat. Secondly, that way the funny stuff comes first.

    Ashish, welcome to Upper Fort Stewart my fellow traveller in désespoir de bibliothèque. I used to read only fiction myself, preferring honest liars I said. Things changed in my early twenties and I haven’t looked back.

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