Tips for Reading Well

Here are a few tips from Justin Childers for growing in your ability to read:

  • Learn to mark up your books – Outline, underline, index, highlight, summarize, and do whatever else it takes to engage a book. Always read with a pen in hand. You are not just passing your eyes over a page. You are engaging with the book.
  • Set reading goals for yourself – He who fails to plan, plans to fail. If you don’t plan to read good books, you won’t.
  • Don’t just buy books, build a library – A library is a place to go for helpful information. Build a library of different types of resources that you can rely on when you need good information.
  • Vary your reading between old and new books – CS Lewis counseled us to read an old book after ever new book. This is wise counsel indeed.
  • Read only the best books – There is simply not enough time to read a bunch of second-rate stuff. Read what has stood the test of time. Read what people you trust say is good.
  • Utilize “free” moments by reading – Always have a book with you. If you utilize the “free” moments of your day by reading a few pages in a good book, you will be able to read a lot more.
  • Be willing to stop reading a book that is unhelpful – It feels good to finish a book. However, if the book is unhelpful, it is a waste of time. Swallow your pride and just put the book back on the shelf.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t remember most of what you read – Here is what John Piper has said:

“What I have learned from about twenty-years of serious reading is this. It is sentences that change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99% of what I read, but if the 1% of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99%.”

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Reading Well

  1. Summer Reading
    (50 People Every Christian Should Know. Learning From Spiritual Giants of the Faith
    By Warren Wiersbe. 2009. Baker Books. Grand Rapids. MI. USA)

    Reading:
    Attentively
    Intelligently
    Selectively
    Discriminatingly
    Reflectively
    Biography
    And Christian life-story.

    Reading:
    Perceptively
    Critically
    Interpretively
    Discerningly,
    The music
    From the background
    Noise.

    Reading:
    Identifying
    Noting
    Remembering
    What’s worth learning.
    Taking encouragement
    And nourishment
    Diligently applying
    Principles and paradigms.

  2. Thanks for this post Peter.

    I especially agree with this line…

    “Read only the best books – There is simply not enough time to read a bunch of second-rate stuff. Read what has stood the test of time.”

    Oh. So. True.

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