A New Reading Method for 2017

My name is Dustin and I have a reading problem. I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. Seemed like I always finished second in the summer reading program in my small Central Illinois town to Matt Augsburger, a country kid who didn’t have a lot else going on. I got a lot of Pizza Hut personal pan pizza certificates that I never used because we couldn’t afford to buy anything else at Pizza Hut and there was a sense of shame at just getting the free thing and nothing else. I suppose that is a subject for another time.

My love of reading continued into high school and my favorite classes, well, the ONLY classes I enjoyed were English, literature, writing, and speech. I love language and words. If I had another life I would teach English literature. In fact, I considered pursuing a master’s in that when I lived in Tampa for a brief stint in 2005. But the call of vocational ministry proved too strong.

In any case, in the last 10 years I’ve typically read 60-70 books a year. It’s my common practice to be reading anywhere up to 5-6 books at a time of various genres and subjects. It’s really incredible how little you have to read a day to finish a lot of books in a year. Kelli teases me because I keep saying that if you just read 2 pages before you go to sleep every night, you would read over 700 pages a year just from that. That could be 2-3 books right there. Like I said, I have a problem. 🙂 It helps that I don’t watch much television. I’m just not real interested in long series. Feels like such a time suck.

But I’ve realized this last year that my practice may not be the best way to read. I’ve found myself in a place where I’m reading more compulsively than leisurely. I think I noticed that as I’ve felt increasingly more stressed to finish books and increasingly obligated to read everything everyone tells me I should read. My goal in the last part of the year has been more finishing books than enjoying the process of learning and discovery that come with reading. None of this is how reading should be!

Therefore, this year I’d like to take a step back, slow down my reading, and be more present to the books I choose to read. So instead of reading multiple things at a time, or feeling an obligation to hit the 60 book mark, I’m going to read one book at a time at home, and one at the office.

I’m going to keep my home reading based in leisure and enjoyment and read mostly novels and keep my work reading focused on theology/ministry/bible. I try to devote 30 minutes a day for further learning at work as part of my rhythm in regard to theology and ministry.

I’ve got a list of some of the things I’d love to read this year and/or next. But I’m gonna take it slow and when I finish one book, I’ll choose what I most feel excited to read next. I’m reading Great Expectations right now and without the distraction of being able to jump to “easier” books when things slow down in the narrative, I stick with it and I’ve connected with the book and noticed more than I have in times past when I’ve tried to read it and have gotten sidetracked with other reading. I’m trying really hard to shake off the impulse to just “finish” so I can get on to something else and rather enjoy a slow, leisurely pace regardless of how long it takes to finish.

Cheers to a great, slow, enjoyable year of reading!

Home Reading:
☐Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
☐Silence – Shusaku Endo
☐The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
☐The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
☐Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
☐Rabbit at Rest – John Updike
☐Watership Down – Richard Adams
☐The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
☐99 Stories of God – Joy Williams
☐American Pastoral – Philip Roth
☐God Drops and Loses Things – Killian Mcdonnell
☐Delights and Shadows – Ted Kooser
☐Laurus – Eugene Vodolazkin
☐Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
☐Hannah Coulter – Wendell Berry
Work Reading:
☐Ministry Mantras – Hyatt/Briggs
☐David; The Wounded Heart
☐You Are What You Love – James KA Smith
☐Being Christian – Rowan Williams
☐Being Disciples – Rowan Williams
☐After 50 Years of Ministry, Seven Things I’d Do Different – Bob Russell
☐Generation to Generation – Edwin Friedman
☐Faithful Presence – David Fitch
☐Strange Days – Mark Sayers
☐Spurgeon’s Sorrows – Zack Eswine
☐Playing God – Andy Crouch
☐Fools Talk – Os Guinness
☐The Power of Loving Your Church – David Hansen
☐Transforming Church – Kevin Ford
☐Healthy Congregations – Peter Steinke
☐Friedman’s Fables – Edwin Friedman
☐Presuasion – Rob Cialdini
☐Divine Sex – Jonathan Grant
☐The Road Back to You – Ian Cron
☐Hearing Beyond the Words – Emma Justes
☐Prophetic Lament – Soong-Cha Rah
☐How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All It’s Worth – Christopher Wright
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