I have a love / hate relationship with reading. I love books, but I rarely finish them. I don’t exactly know why, except that I do know I get distracted easily. I also like to “get to the point” and end up frustrated with authors who take forever to say “Jesus loves us and He died for our sins”. I don’t need to read a doctoral thesis to understand that. So, I tend to skim rather than read, and I end up missing most of the beauty the author was trying to sketch out for me.
Recognizing what I’ve been missing out on, I’ve been making an earnest effort to change those habits. Here are some things I’m doing to cultivate a love for reading:
- I really like eBooks. I like having easy access to any of my books wherever I am or the ability to buy a book at-will. eBooks have helped lure me back to the written word.
- I love the iPad and I’ve been a huge fan of the Kindle app for the iPad. However, I’ve found that the iPad is not conducive to “getting lost in a story”. There are too many temptations to flip over to my email app, browse the tech news, check my twitter feeds, etc. It doesn’t take too long after beginning a chapter that I find my mind beginning to wander.
- I’ve recently switched to a dedicated eBook reader – the Amazon Kindle 3. I like the single-focus aspect of a dedicated eBook reader. No bleeps, no twitter, no browser – just regular old reading.
- On Saturday’s or Sunday’s, I like to go outside and read. Due to the heat and the screen glare, the iPad is horrible for that. The Kindle, however, is perfect for that.
- I’ve never been good about looking up references the author includes inline, and I’ve been poorer as a result. I’ve found that when I take the time to look up a verse that the author references, it really enhances what I’m reading / studying and the Lord often shows me something totally new as a result.
- I don’t read well when there is too much going on around me. I do my best reading and studying early in the morning (like 4 am) or late at night. A cup of coffee and a comfy recliner at 4 am is where I long to be these days.
- I’ve tried audio books, but I just don’t retain the information like I do when I’m reading. Occasionally I’ll listen to an audio book while riding a bike or running, but I’ve really come to appreciate the silence of those activities more. That said, I’ve found the gym to be the perfect place to catch up on reading. A book is a great way to keep your eyes from visible “distractions” that are wondering the gym floor or on the TV.
- Most of the books I read are non-fiction: theology, writing, mercy ministry, stream-of-thought, etc. I wouldn’t mind reading fiction books by people who happen to be Christians, I just don’t want to read Christian fiction. I’ve heard it said that the worst place in Christendom is the Christian Book Store, and I believe that isn’t too far from the truth.
- When reading a chapter, I’m being intentional about not skipping paragraphs. In fact, I’m forcing myself to go back and re-read paragraphs to make sure I understand what the author is trying to communicate. I’m also going back and re-reading entire chapters. By doing those things, I find myself getting into the author’s world more frequently.
- Note-taking while reading is a skill I’m just now beginning to develop. Keeping some small moleskine notebooks around helps a lot.