If you’re currently reading our first challenge book, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (Kindle edition here), you are no doubt benefiting from some sound, biblical wisdom as it pertains to the things we read. Perhaps it’s obvious, but I wanted to start with this book to give us a good framework for the rest of our reading, and to help you develop a framework for your own reading priorities.
In Chapter 7, Reinke shares his reading priorities and how he groups them. This is a practice I have engaged in for several years and find it tremendously helpful in weeding through the millions of options that are available to read. Reinke has 6 categories (which I assume means he has all 6 types of reading going on consistently/simultaneously – this is also how I read):
1. Reading Scripture
2. Reading to know and delight in Christ
3. Reading to kindle spiritual reflection
4. Reading to initiate personal change
5. Reading to pursue vocational excellence
6. Reading to enjoy a good story
I like his categories and think they offer good diversity. My personal categories are as follows:
1. Reading Scripture – This year (and probably into next year) I am reading individual books of the Bible entirely, 20 times each, until moving onto the next one (to include a chapter of Proverbs every day).
2. Reading devotionally – (Tabletalk Magazine, Valley of Vision, Morning and Evening, etc.) – probably similar to Reinke’s #2
3. Reading for study – books related to what I’m teaching/preaching now or in the future.
4. Reading to counsel and be counseled – (Books on marriage, parenting, depression, relationships, etc.) I always want to know how to better counsel my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I want to grow in my sanctification. Reading a wide range of books related to the hearts/minds of sinful people has proven helpful to me and has given me much to recommend to others when they have specific needs. Books in this category have proven helpful in identifying specific areas of sin in my life, and the Lord has used these books for my sanctification.
5. Reading theology and ecclesiology – (Books on God’s nature, attributes, works, etc. and books about God’s Church) All Christian reading is inherently theological, but this category is for specific works that relate to systematic theology, biblical theology, and ecclesiology.
6. Reading biography and autobiography – I think it’s important for Christians to regularly read about the lives of other Christians and non-Christians. I like biographies and autobiographies and always have 1 going.
7. Reading to learn something new – I have a lot of hobbies and interests. I like to learn new things. In this category I read about all sorts of different things: Beekeeping, gold/silver investments, politics, golf, running, music, education, business – it’s a catch all category that doesn’t specifically relate to Christianity/theology.
8. Reading fiction – I don’t spend much time in this category, but I’ve increased my fiction reading a bit. I resonate 100% with Reinke’s statement: “In all honesty, it has taken me many years to simply delight myself in beautiful books. Now they provide me with relaxation, pleasure, and a delightful weapon to foil the devil.” I have mostly found fiction to be a waste of time, but there is good fiction and, if nothing else, I like to read good writing no matter what it’s about, so there are some gems of fiction worth reading. The last fiction book I really enjoyed was Peace Like a River (Kindle edition here) by Leif Enger.
Of these 8 categories, I usually have 5-6 of them going at one time. But, I realize that’s not going to work for everyone! Some people need to read one book to completion before picking up another. Others read a lot of different books, but perhaps haven’t discovered the joy and importance of categorizing and prioritizing them. So, let’s look at Reinke’s challenge:
“Now make your own list of reading priorities. First, look at the books you have read over the last twenty-four months that have benefitted your life. Create categories for those books. Second, include any category that you don’t currently read but would like to add, perhaps something mentioned in [chapter 7]. By now you should have a list of two to five categories. Start small and be realistic. Third, begin making book selections informed by your reading priorities. Invest the time you need to define a purpose to why you want to read books. Once you have an answer to this question, you will find it much easier to choose your next book from the twenty-eight million attractive options.”
So, what are your reading categories/priorities?