1) It may get icky and perhaps even a bit touchy-feely. If you are feeling that a more manly bout of reading is in order, check out THIS page.
2) I hope you’re reading with a browser that allows for tabs because I’ve got some links throughout here that you may want to peruse later on.
Don’t want to stick around for the whole thing? Alright then, no worries. The short summary? I’m planning on reading only those pieces of literature which will benefit me in both a spiritual and an intellectual sense this coming year. Starting with spending more time in my Bible, I plan on making my way through the works of some heavy duty Christian thinkers, to include CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Dietrich Bonhoffer, George MacDonald, AW Tozer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and even some Martin Luther. Everyone I listed made it into my crosshairs via a mix of both recommendations from people whose opinion I respect and/or a result of my own digging around for some definitive Christian theology.
That’s about it, really. I’ll go more in depth in a sec, but I know it’s football season so feel free to take off if you’ve read the prior paragraph.
The longer “how and why” of my 2016 reading goals? Glad you’re still here. Strap in, we might be here for a few minutes.
My wife and I asked one of our local friends, Michelle, some time back if and what she liked to read. She answered that she was convicted that she didn’t read her Bible as often as she should so she rarely took time to read for pleasure. It was a pretty valid point, and I am sad to say that as important as the Bible is and should be in my life, it is often the first book that I neglect. Of course I know a few verses, and I open it when I need to look something up specifically, but I don’t know it inside and out like some of my favorite authors’ works.
I have an account on Goodreads (you should get one too, dear reader) and one of the many perks of the site is that they allow you to sign up for a yearly reading goal. I’ve been taking part in them since 2013 (and have even done a year end summary the last couple of years, HERE (2014), HERE (2015 Part 1), and HERE (2015 Part 2)) but lately I have been feeling that my love of reading and learning is getting lost in the weeds somewhere. It’s like at some point, I’ve vied for quantity over quality. As a lover of words and how they play into the writing process, I should be more concerned about the words in my Bible (or books relating directly to my faith) than the words of contemporary fiction.
Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE reading, and I have a pretty good list of my favorite books. I have gotten to the point where I am not all that picky about what I read either. Just about any genre and/or subject matter is fair game to me if it piques my curiosity in any way. I have spent the last several years reading about so many different subjects that previously I would have never even been interested in.
I am guilty of reading multiple books at the same time. The advantage is that I get a TON more reading done, but the drawback can be (and this is not ALWAYS the case necessarily) that I may not get the entire “oomph” of one of those books being read in tandem. That’s another reason I need to retune my reading goals for 2016. I want to read more than just words on a page; I want to truly study what is going into my brain. It’s incredibly easy for me to read three or four books at the same time, considering they are different genres and “narrative voices”, but I want to soak up each word of what I read in 2016.
(***Full disclosure, I only really read multiple books in earnest if they are fiction or something that I wouldn’t consider too heavy of a lift. The previous intellectual books I’ve read were definitely set-aside-time-for level.***)
I have been blessed by God to have several people placed in my life who had their hearts set on him and improved my life by being in it. Although there are several who I respect immensely and still remain, the first few that come to mind have left this Earth recently.
My wife’s great grandmother, “Granny”, was our prayer warrior for years. That woman had the Lord on speed dial and she was a fantastic example of someone who would not be swayed from her fervent belief in Jesus. She was adamant about praying for us, and her prayers were always welcome. As sad as we were to see her leave this Earth back in June, we know that she is enjoying a face to face with God after a well lived and well loved ninety five years on this earth.
If you have been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I mourned the loss of my friend Nick in 2012 and, more recently, my young book loving friend Drew at the end of this August. While I don’t know what Granny read outside of her Bible, or even what Nick may have read outside of his Mormon doctrine, I *DO* know what Drew read. He is the person who introduced me to GK Chesterton and his book “The Everlasting Man” along with George MacDonald’s “Phantastes”. I had no idea what that kid was getting me into when he opened my eyes to those two men. While I’m not entirely sure a screenshot of words constitutes a “picture”, per se, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll just let you see how important the Chesterton book was to him in his own words last summer.
The amount of brain capacity we have been given and can continue to build upon is incredible. Why, if given the option to improve this brain power, would you not take it? Why would we not spend more time reading, what Drew called, “thought provoking” and “mind blowing” books? We are wasting this amazing capability for knowledge with useless information. I read for entertainment, yes, but there is a whole world of learning out there as well just waiting on you to check out that one book that will blow your mind. Trust me, there’s room in our noggins for both entertainment AND learning. Going back to Michelle’s previous statement about feeling convicted about not reading her Bible enough, why would I not read that and anything that may directly help me in understanding it fuller?
I’ve put together my “shelf” for my 2016 choices, as a sort of “to-do” list, even though I’ve actually just finished up “The Great Divorce” by CS Lewis, “Heretics” by GK Chesterton, and am working on both “Orthodoxy” by Chesterton (his sequel of sorts to Heretics) and “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan.
I have several other things I’ve been writing (I haven’t forgotten about the Book Haven stuff, Lia, I promise! I’m just a horrible mix of a procrastinator and a busy hubby/dad) and reading but as it usually goes with me, once I get inside my head for too long I end up thinking too much and that translates to writing something substantial.
I don’t know where I will be on January 1, 2017 but if I can ring in the new year as a more well-rounded, deeper-thinking Christian I can definitely see that as a good thing.