How To Read Better, Part 1
I really enjoy learning. For me it’s like a treasure hunt, an adventure of sorts. I have found books to be the best sources of concentrated learning, and so my passion for reading has grown through the years, and the adventure continues today. Books are definitely a part of my schedule, my recreation, my life. They provide help for me as a leader, father, husband, speaker and pastor. It scratches the itch in my mind to want to know things, to learn and overcome my own ignorance, and to glean insights from people who have been places, done things and had experiences that I will never have.
Think about this: Some authors have spent years in research to put a book in your hands. You can read the BEST of someone’s last 5 years of research in about 6-12 hours. What a deal! Some books are a person’s life work, and the insights are invaluable. Yet what they have to share with you and me, we can in several evenings learn from someone else’s achievements, failures, controversies and unexpected experiences. Books are a gift from one human to another, and we must take advantage of these gems.
A common conversation I have goes something like this:
“You really find some great quotes that you share. Do you read a lot?”
“Yes, a fair amount. I try to complete a book every two weeks right now.”
“Wow! I could never do that! I have so many books I that I haven’t finished and many I haven’t even started. I would like to do what you do, but I don’t have the time.”
“There is something very satisfying about finishing a book. Can I give you some coaching on how to read a little bit more? Read a little bit better?”
Most people are very open to being better readers. Usually, the greater interest someone has in leading, the greater their level of interest in reading is. “Leaders are readers”. This is absolutely true. But all of us can read more. This is the first post in a series I will do sharing some of the specifics of how I developed my reading habits, how I track it, how I use what I have read, and how I choose new books. Hopefully this will help you in your leadership and life!
Let me start with this little tidbit. As I write this we are in 2018, and I graduated college in 1993. While I read a lot of books during college, I may have become burned out on reading. After graduation, I don’t think I read anything other than devotional Bible reading, and maybe a few magazine articles. It wasn’t until 2007, some 14 years later, that I picked up a book and finished it. But it was that book that sparked a fire for reading again, that continued to this day.
Several friends had read a book by a local author, Donald Miller, called Blue Like Jazz. Miller grew up in the Portland, Oregon area, and his book’s setting was there. Blue is a bit of a memoir for Miller, and it details how his faith shaped his life in the years covered in his book’s story. What made me buy this book, was the fact that I wanted to connect with a person who had also read it. I was captivated by the humorous writing style, the slightly irreverent but insightful religious references, and the hometown places I was familiar with as he was writing. Literally, I couldn’t put it down. Some of the writing was so well done, so refreshing (especially in comparison to my college books), that I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience of reading once again.
So thank you to Donald Miller, and the friends who have read his book ahead of me. You ignited what has become something so valuable in my life—reading books!
By the way, Blue Like Jazz is a great read, and you won’t be disappointed. It was even made into a movie! Some books are really great gifts for certain people in certain places in their lives. This one would be a great share with someone who is a friend, but not a Christian. It is a great introduction into the world of Christianity, especially for an outsider to the faith.
Stay tuned for more on how to read better. You can do it, and you will find it great for your soul.