Reading is a powerful tool, and yet we often neglect the habit. It feels overly burdensome. So what is the secret to reading more and enjoying it? The answer is far more simple than you think.
I worked at a Christian bookstore all through college. I loved being around the books and Bibles. I felt smarter just by association, and as an employee, I was allowed to borrow books from the store. It was a great season of learning for me.
An older gentleman worked with me in the book department during this time. He was a retired theology and philosophy professor with multiple masters and two doctoral dissertations. He was a veracious reader. Every week he would borrow a stack of books from the store and bring them back finished. He was every bit the book-wormish professor.
The Secret of Reading More
One day I asked him the secret of his voluminous reading habits. How could he read so much? I was a literature major at the time, reading novels, poetry, and essays for class. I was doing my best to plow through classics during the holidays, and I would take home Christian books on the weekend. But as much as I desired to read and learn, I always felt behind and fatigued. I couldn’t keep up it seemed. So what made this guy so different? How could he constantly read so much?
He gave me a simple answer I have never and will never forget: “Read your passion.”
Don’t read what you think you should read. Read what you want to read. Read your interests. Pursue your questions. Read what excites you. Don’t fear abandoning a boring book. Chase the rainbow. And over the years you will find you have read the lists, you have read the “must-reads” and so much more. That’s the secret he said. And he was right. His advice has shaped my reading ever since.
Finding Your Book
If you want to read more, give his advice a try. Start thinking about what you want to read. Here are a few simple ways to find a book you’ll be sure to read.
- Identify your questions. What’s bugging you right now? What’s got your perplexed? Perhaps it’s parenting; then check out a helpful book on family. Maybe it’s a question of theology. Grab a work of systematic theology.
- Identify your joy. What brings you joy right now? Is it sports? Read Tony Dungy’s book on coaching and football. It’s fascinating! Is it hiking? Pick up a memoir from someone who’s hiked the Appalachian trail.
- Identify your guilty pleasure. Are you a closet Star Trek fan? Read all the novels! Are you a Louis L’Amour buff? Does Rilke make you sing? It’s all good! Give those books a go. They have a place in your reading diet. They will keep your reading habit alive in dry times.
For more great thoughts on the joy, art, and importance of reading, please check out Tony Reinke’s excellent book: Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books.
So forget what people say you should read. Read your passion. Read your interests. Read for you. And you will find a million gems along the way. So what are you waiting for? Begin your adventure!