If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will realize that I love to read. I haven’t always loved to read, but the more I read, the more I want to read.
I partially blame several friends who are voracious readers who have insights on a variety of topics.
One of the reading practices that I have found helpful is that of reading several books at the same time. I used to feel confined to finish a book before I start another, but I have broken free from that and enjoy a greater freedom to vary my reading habits (although admittedly, I need to discipline myself to finish the important books 🙂 ).
Here are a few reasons I read several books at the same time:
1. I read for different reasons.
I love to read to deepen my knowledge and understanding of God and Scripture; I love to read because it deepens my critical thinking skills, and because I love to learn.
Some books I need to trek through slowly and carefully, which are usually more theological, detailed, or read with a specific purpose of learning/growing in an area. Right now I’m slowly reading through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, trekking through The Cross and Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson, and the more popular level the biography Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (most of which I had my Kindle Touch’s Text-to-Voice feature read to me).
Calvin and Carson are so rich that I often have to put on the brakes to meditate on their rich truths, while I was able to move at a faster clip reading the Bonhoeffer biography. If I am tired or want something a little lighter, it is nice to both stimulate my brain and give it a break in reading something different.
2. I don’t feel pressure to finish every book I start.
There are just too many books in the world to force myself through something that isn’t worthwhile. I used to guilt myself into finishing every book that I started—but now have seen the light and have no problem setting a book aside for a while or forever.
Before I buy a book or start reading it, I make sure a specific book will help me achieve one or more of my goals (a few goals are to learn Scripture better, learn to write better, and deepen my effectiveness and efficiency in various areas of my life).
3. Reading some books more slowly allows me to meditate on it over a longer period of time.
This is the same reason why many people are against “binge watching” a TV series. If you fly through five seasons over one weekend, you miss out on so much time to think and process what happened like having a week between episodes (or six months between seasons) would give. When I can think more deeply about a book or issue, I benefit more from that book and it helps me as I review.
4. I read on multiple devices.
For some types of books, I prefer a physical copy. For others, I prefer to listen to it with my Kindle’s Text-to-Speech function, or on audiobook on my iPhone. I don’t always have a book or device with me, which might make a book I’m reading temporarily unavailable.
I am curious like a cat when it comes to theology, Christian living, and books that help develop me professionally. This means I might have an answer in my head such as, “How can I best understand what Isaiah 53:5 means when it says ‘by his wounds we are healed’?” or “How can I be a better storyteller?” To find immediate answers, I turn to different books.
What are your reading habits?
[image credit: Horia Varlan]
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