Saturday, January 28, 2006

Thoughts on Reading

This was a thought-provoking post on how to order one's reading life. Having seen Dr. Mohler's personal library, I can attest that he is a preacher who loves his books. While I don't have quite the library he does, I too can't remember a time when I wasn't buried in a book. Here are some of thoughts I had about reading:

1. Read deeply. I have a couple of interest areas in which I read everything I can: Jonathan Edwards, American Presbyterianism, American Civil War, and Wendell Berry. Then there are a couple of other areas in which I read fairly widely: John Calvin, Karl Barth, and Stanley Hauerwas. By reading deeply in selected areas, it enables me to reflect and think within a particular tradition.

2. Read widely. At the same time, it is important to sample widely--for me that means reading outside my discipline (and so reading biblical scholars like N. T. Wright or Pete Enns) as well as reading fiction or other historical time periods.

3. Read joyfully. I always read for enjoyment--if I don't like a book, I won't read very far into it. I don't feel obligated, because I spend money on a book, to finish it. I believe that it is the author's responsibility to help me enjoy what I am reading, but if he doesn't, I will move on to something else that I might take joy in. That doesn't mean I agree with what I read; but it does mean that I enjoy engaging an author's thoughts.

4. Read critically. It is important to think while you read. I feel like I am having a conversation with the author as I read, which is why I write in the margins, highlight, and mutter to myself and the author while I read books.

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