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On Reading More

As the year rounds towards its 3/4 mark (can you believe it!), many of us are making progress on our goals and many have already fallen behind. For me, it’s already both! I’ve experimented with a few goalsetting strategies, including the very excellent “aim low.” This year, I’m going to change it up a bit and try to hit on a few main themes: 1) Create more than I consume. 2) Really enjoy those things which I consume. 3) Finish some projects!


Asher doing as his dad has advised and reading instead of watching Disney+!

To achieve a goal, you have to take the proper set of steps and have your critical success factors in mind. The one that ties all of these goals together, for me, is “read more.” Not only do I desperately love to read, reading develops creativity, craft, and knowledge that you’ll need to produce your own work. It keeps you in conversations and accesses for you wisdom unavailable by other means. Here’s a few things I’m doing this year to help increase my reading. Consider doing them yourself and let’s see how it goes!

  1. Unsubscribe from Streaming Services. I find two main enemies for my reading, and the first is the amount of video that I consume. Given the choice between reading a book and streaming something, video wins too often and too easily. Reading is more work, and having an easy default too often sings that siren song. Lash yourself to the mast of unsubscribing and make yourself work for video!

  2. Take Apps off of your Phone. The second enemy is the amount of social media that I read. It’s so easy to drop a half hour into scrolling your Twitter feed (of course mine is worth scrolling for much longer than that: @buzhannon) when you could have read a chapter or two of your novel or gotten to your next checkpoint in your Bible reading plan. Instead of pulling your phone out to read next time you have a lull, why not drag out the Kindle? And why not do one better by taking those apps completely off of your phone? If you have to “work” for your social media by pulling out your computer and logging in through a browser like it is 1999 or something, you will have created a helpful barrier that makes reading well an easy default for you. Do it–delete!

  3. Choose Better Things to Read. Do you ever get halfway through a book and then quit? Can I tell you…that’s okay! There are SO many things to read that if one doesn’t grab you, just let it go. Pick up something else more useful and helpful. That said, often we do need to power through a bit more to develop discipline and to generate the knowledge we need from those authors both wiser and more published than we are. Follow this space for The Best Possible Choices ™ or triple your money back.

  4. Consider the Purpose. Why do you want to read more? Just to check the list off? To be seen as smart? Because you know you “should”? Or is to to grow? To learn a skill? To develop your own sense of narrative? For beauty? For pleasure? Whatever it is, find a plan and a set of books that fills your goals. For me, I want to read more for pleasure and more for knowledge in two specific areas (biblical studies and narrative theory). I’ll choose a set of books this year that help me to do that. I started the year with A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles for fun and already have a few in the can about narrative theory. Towles gave me a hunger to move on to The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Check back soon for some reviews and responses of those. But what is your goal? Choose something that helps you meet it! As Pam Beesley told us that Jim Halpert said, it’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than to be halfway up one you don’t!

What about you–what are some of your techniques for reading more, reading well, and reading often? I’d love to hear!

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