THREE ON THURSDAY
Today’s topic is on reading (and a new book club that’s starting). Here are links to three articles on this topic:
Reading When You’re Really Busy by Trevin Wax
“When someone tells me they don’t have time to read, I don’t believe it. I’m often as busy as they are, and somehow I manage. If you want to read well and widely, have a book with you nearby at all times. When you’re waiting to get a haircut, or before a doctor’s appointment, or you’re five minutes early and you’re in the school pick-up line, you have a choice. Either scroll through Facebook and Twitter, or steal a few precious moments with a book.”
To All the Books I’ll Never Read by Cass Watson
“I don’t have a chance of reading all the books I want to in my lifetime. This is a bit depressing to me. I love reading Christian books so that I can understand God better, grow in holiness, and do ministry more effectively. They are good teachers, helping me to see beyond my own limited experience and understanding. But I also need to remember the right place of books . . . I will never read enough books to ‘arrive’.”
12 Rules for the Bookish Life by Doug Sikkema
“To read as an escape is to surrender and be imprisoned by the ideal of no-place and no one. Books should never be a fire exit from the slow burn of a humdrum existence. Rather, they should provide a “momentary stay against confusion,” helping you return to the real world empowered to reimagine your particular place there, seeing with new eyes that particularly crooked neighbour with your own particularly crooked heart.” (NOTE: There’s some language in this one.)
THOUGHTS ON THE READING LIFE…
AND AN INVITATION TO JOIN A BOOK CLUB
The first thing I do when I wake up is read. And it’s the last thing I do before falling asleep. You could even say I became an English teacher so I could get paid to read — and teach others how to read.
My love of reading began early as I trailed my mother to the local library every week. Like going to church on Sundays, we went to the public library on Fridays. Every visit meant I came home with a fresh stack of mystery novels and choose-your-own adventures.
Nowadays, I am a shameless collector of books. Not the fancy leather-bound editions with golden embossed letters on the cover. Just regular books like paperbacks and hardcovers. I never have enough shelf space for all of them because, naturally, I can collect books faster than I can read them. (One of my biggest fantasies is to have a home library like the one in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast.)
All that to say, I love books and I love reading.
There’s something about immersing yourself in a story, whether fiction or nonfiction, to learn from someone else. The main reason I love to read is the simple fact that I love to learn. I love discovering new things.
I shared recently on Instagram that I have a quiet suspicion you can know a person pretty well by seeing the kinds of books they read. That’s why I’m always drawn to the bookshelves in other people’s homes and offices. I’m not just reading titles on spines; I’m reading hearts and minds, learning about the things that interest them.
Books tell you about people. They show you the inner workings of the heart, and they help you understand your own. Reading expands our understanding and shapes the way we think. I love how English professor Karen Swallow Prior puts it:
“Just as water, over a long period of time, reshapes the land through which it runs, so too we are formed by the habit of reading good books well.”*
Last week, I wrote about the Apostle Paul’s admonition to lead a quiet life. I would contend that includes sharpening our minds, so when we engage with the world around us, we do so in thoughtful and helpful ways.
Part of leading a quiet life is to lead a reading life.
And I have some ideas about how we can do this together.
In the articles I linked to today, you’ll find some helpful tips on reading and some thoughtful ideas about the reading life. I could add more, but instead of writing a list about the many benefits of reading, I’d like to invite you on a reading journey with me. We can explore the virtues of the reading life together as we examine the virtues found in good literature.
What do you say? Want to join a book club?
I imagine your first question would be: What books will we read?
In her newest book, On Reading Well, Karen Swallow Prior devotes each chapter to a virtue that is presented in a work of literature. Thus, each chapter expands on another book. So, I thought it would be fun to read each novel she discusses in each chapter.
A quick glance at the Table of Contents for On Reading Well explains everything:
Chapter 1 – Prudence: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding
Chapter 2 – Temperance: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Chapter 3 – Justice: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Chapter 4 – Courage: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Chapter 5 – Faith: Silence by Shusaku Endo
Chapter 6 – Hope: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Chapter 7 – Love: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
Chapter 8 – Chastity: Ethan Frome by Edith Whaton
Chapter 9 – Diligence: Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Chapter 10 – Patience: Persuasion by Jane Austen
Chapter 11 – Kindness: “The Tenth of December” by George Saunders
Chapter 12 – Humility: “Revelation” and “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Flannery O’Connor
That’s ten novels and three short stories — plus, of course, the book that talks about them. (And you may notice that several of the books I linked to are available for free on Kindle. Just follow the links!)
How quickly would we read through these books?
Well, that’s up to you! Depending on reader feedback, we can read through the books as quickly or as slowly as you would like. Click on the links below to let me know if you’d like to join an online book club and read some books together!
*On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior, Brazo Press, 2018.