I get questions about reading fairly often from people at church and Pastors, so let answer some of them here. First, let me say that I was not born a bookworm. In fact, before becoming a Christ-follower the only book I had ever read completely was a biography on the life of Madonna (who would lie about something so pathetic?). But when God changed my life, I got a thirst for knowledge and books were the best way to quench it, so I started reading. So every year, I set a reading goal as part of my personal development. (I'm not including my Bible reading here. Maybe I'll post about that some other time).
So here are some of the questions that guide me every year:
How many pages will I read? And/ Or How many books will I read? I prefer to count pages and not book numbers because books vary so greatly in size depending on the topic. This year, my goal was 6,000 pages. I will probably end the year at 7,500 so I'll set the bar at around 8,500 in 2007. (Which, by the way, isn't that much. A couple of guys I know, put away 100 book a year. I'm a lightweight (I read about 50-60) compared to them.
What types of books will I read? I have several categories that I hit every year without fail: Leadership/ Church/ Men's Issues/ Marriage/Culture/ Preaching/ Theology/ Management/ evangelism/ Jewish history. I also read 1 sports book a year. I wish I could read more, but there's usually 1 good Red Sox book that comes out and that's what I read as my sports book. Here was 2004, 2005, 2006.
I'm adding parenting books into that mix for 2007. There will plenty of daddy & daughter books read in years to come.
When do you read? All the time when I'm not working. I don't have time to read at the office. So I read when I'm home, with Carey at a Doctor's appointment, watching TV (some shows don't require my full attention). This issue is, I have a book with me at all times. But I generally read in the evening. If you don't have any set time for reading, you won't get any reading done.
How do you read so fast? I don't speed read very well. I just read a lot. I don't watch a ton of TV. Tivo cuts my TV viewing down a lot. I don't flip channels ever. I watch what I've recorded, that's it. During baseball season, I watch the Red Sox with a book in my hand. (Another reason I love baseball)
What's missing in this list? Commentaries. I read those in preparation for my messages. I don't count that in my personal list. If I did, that would be another 5,000 pages a year. But this is just my own personal development. Commentaries are for my responsibilities as a teacher, so I keep them separate. Also, I don't read fiction. It doesn't interest me.
What about Magazines? I read Leadership Journal and Wired. That's it. Magazines don't hold my interest very well.
The bottom line is this for leaders: You can't lead if you don't read. You can't stretch people's minds if yours isn't being stretched. That's why you have to read people you admire as well as those you disagree with. Most people buy critiques that people they like write and think that satisfies the "other camp" quota. Wrong. If you're theologically conservative, read a theologically liberal book. Are you Amillennial? Read something pre-milennial. Cessationist? Read something Pentecostal.