Reading Reflection:

Lit!, Tony Reinke (Crossway, 2011)

It’s not so weird to read a book about reading. I mean, it wouldn’t be strange to read a book about any other occupation or hobby. And yet it does sound a little funny to be reading words on a page about the very act of reading. I’ll admit it’s not a page turner, but helpful nonetheless.

As I was reading through Lit! (the second book I’ve read on reading), I did hit a climax point of horror. Maybe it’s only effective on nerds like me but here is the part that caused panic and anxiety:

Imagine you make the wildly ambitious goal of reading one book per week for the next fifty years. Lofty aspiration! If you remain faithful to the task, you will read about 2,600 books. Not bad for five decades of reading.

Now consider how many more books are available for you to read…

Currently, the Library of Congress houses eighteen million books. American publishers add another two hundred thousand titles to this stack each year. This means that at the current publishing rate, ten million new books will be added in the next fifty years. Add together the dusty LOC volumes with the shiny new forthcoming books, and you get a bookshelf-warping total of twenty-eight million books available for an English reader in the next fifty years! But you can only read 2,600—because you are a wildly ambitious book devourer.

These numbers are not scientific, of course. But here is my point: For every one book that you choose to read, you must ignore ten thousand other books simply because you don’t have the time (or money!). Book reading will make you acutely aware of your personal limitations.

So how do we decide what one book to read? Or maybe more importantly, how do we determine which ten thousand books to reject (93,94)?

Horror of horrors!

I’ve recently discussed the importance of reading books (as opposed to merely scanning the internet for everything) in my article Are We Still Thinking? But even if you are a devoted reader, this excerpt makes your limitations painfully clear.  It’s like picking a puppy from a litter of ten and watching those other 18 eyes as you walk away with your new beloved. Did you pick the right one? Who knows what this little guy is going to turn out to be, what kind of memories he will make with you, and how destructive he might become. Same thing with a book. They make lasting impressions.

Do you have a plan or purpose in your reading, or is it just like lucky-dipping in the bookstore? What genre do you tend to read the most? How do you determine what books you will read this year? Do you have a summer list? What book has taught you the most? What book do you find yourself actually investing the time to re-read? What is your favorite fiction book of all time? Because clearly time is ticking, and you can only read so many. Share your favorites!

Oh, and obviously the Bible is the most important, best everything! Hopefully that doesn’t even need to be said on this blog! It’s like that question you get asked, “If you could invite any three people to dinner, dead or alive, who would it be?--And you can’t invite Jesus!”

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15 Comments

. . . and that's just

. . . and that's just American publishers - British publishers send out almost as many as well.

You are so funny! Ha-lair! I

You are so funny! Ha-lair! I love you!

I love his gritty sense of

I love his gritty sense of humor.

Another vote for Hannah

Another vote for Hannah Coulter! So, so good.

"liked it" is way too mild,

"liked it" is way too mild, Aimee. I am planning on re-reading it right after I finish Johnson's book (which I recommend really really really highly to you!). Trueman had so many nuggets, and wrote so clearly and cogently that I feel like I need to go back in order to get them all.

Here's how I put it recently on Michelle Van Loon's blog when she asked for folks to give recent reads: Carl Trueman’s “Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread” – It’s a collection of essays strongly recommended by Aimee Byrd over at Housewife Theologian, and I’m really glad I picked it up. He comments on – and occasionally skewers – the church, theology, pop culture, and all the while gives fantastic insights with elegant writing.

So yeah, I guess you could say I liked it ... A TON!

Tim

Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, guys. I'm intrigued by Hannah Coulter. And Tim, I've been wondering how you liked Trueman's book. I'm so glad you liked it.

Oh, I finished Hannah Coulter

Oh, I finished Hannah Coulter not too long ago. I LOVED it. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is also a wonderful book.

I just finished Hannah

I just finished Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry and wonder if perhaps it is the best fiction book I have ever read.

One comfort I take is that of

One comfort I take is that of those 10,000 books I won't be reading a lot of them are junk. Then again I've read a few clunkers too, so proportionally it might work out.

I agree with Angela too about recommendations. Your review of Carl Trueman's Fools Rush In, along with your comment that you thought it fit my style perfectly, led to me reading it, and it is a hooot. In fact, I think I mentioned that my wife ordered it for me as a Father's Day present since she saw that I had the title written down somewhere (along with Darrell Johnson's Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey Through the Book of Revelation, which I am in the middle of right now). Trueman's book turned out to be one of the best collections of essays I've read in ages. Thanks for steering me right on that one, Aimee.

Tim

I won't be able to read

I won't be able to read everything I want to, but I sure enjoy trying!

"recommendations" - ugh!

"recommendations" - ugh! Typos.

Does a pile of books next to

Does a pile of books next to my chair count as a "plan?" :-) I have so many books I want to read, and lately, I notice that I'm reading less and less fiction, which used to be a staple of my diet. I appreciate discerning bloggers for book recommendationd.

That same excerpt struck me

That same excerpt struck me and made me think long and hard about what/how I read. I used to read more fluff fiction, just because it was Christian and therefore clean. However, I've learned that there's great value in reading beautifully written prose (although I still like to read clean books). It's caused me look harder to find wonderfully, beautifully written books - and I've benefited tremendously from it. My favorite fiction books are Jane Austen's, and also the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

I don't really have a plan, and I find too many books I want to read. I usually read one non-fiction & one fiction at the same time.

The thought, "They make

The thought, "They make lasting impressions" is something I have been thinking about recently. Which books and movies do we decide are worth reading and watching? - deciding just from the book cover or movie trailer if it is Godly and will make positive impressions on us. I'm sure you have heard all that people are saying about "Magic Mike" and "50 Shades of Gray" now - these can make LASTING impressions on us and we as readers and viewers must decide if they are important and good for our easily-influenced hearts and minds.

I have a basic plan for what

I have a basic plan for what I read. I try to read something from doctrine, practical theology, church history, and fiction. I never stick to what I planned, because as I read, I end up wanting to investigate something I was just reading. I don't read differently over the summer than I do the other time of the year, simply because I actually have less time to read during the summer. I like to do other things like quilting, home repair and other domestic lovelies. I have Lit! on my Kindle, but as with most things on my Kindle, because I can't "see" the books, I totally forgot about it!