A reader has asked me a question:
How do you decide what books to read? And how do you find the time to read them?
I thought I might take a little time to answer because other people have asked the same question over the last few years.
What to read?
It’s probably as basic as I choose to read what interests me. I have always been a reader, from childhood my nose was buried in a book. Usually fiction in the teenage years, but when I became a Christian it was a natural progression to read books that had a little more depth.
This blog started after an email book club disintegrated. When we left theological college almost 10 years ago, a group of the wives decided to have an email book club. We were scattering to 4 corners of the world, so email was the only way to do it. We decided on one book per month, often based on the list of all the books you know you want to read while at college but never have the time! We read quite a lot over a few years, all Christian books and ones we wanted to read. Early on we decided we did not want to read rubbish, but good stuff. If we were going to spend time reading, we wanted the time to be well spent. At the end of the month, we would email around answering the following questions:
- What did you like?
- What did you learn/what challenged you?
- What did you disagree with/dislike, etc?
- Who would you recommend this to?
As time progressed, fewer and fewer of us had time to contribute. So, I decided to read the books on my personal list and review them on a blog.
When I read a review or hear about a book that interests me, I write it down straightaway. When a Christian bookstore has a sale, I go and buy up (or order online these days!)
For a while I was reading lots of blogs which highlighted books to read. However, towards the end of last year, I found it overwhelming and I couldn’t keep up, so I cut right back on all the blogs I read. My main blog sources for book ideas over the years have been: Jean, Nicole and Meredith and Tim Challies. There are many more out there, so if you are a fellow blogger, don’t be offended! But these four have been my main source of reading ideas online.
Also, I follow through ideas relevant to our life:
I read marriage & relationship books – both because we think it’s important to continue to work on our own marriage, and because we do a lot of marriage preparation and enrichment with couples.
I read parenting books – because as a parent you are always looking for new ideas, and now friends ask for book recommendations. I seem to have a revolving lending library of parenting books!
I read books about ministry and mission work – biographies and ‘how to’, both for interest but also because that is a key part of our lives and many people whom we love and support.
I read books about God, theology and the Christian life. I would love to read more in this category. Most of my sources here come from my husband, also a keen reader. He seems to always have some good theology books on the go.
I read non-Christian books – both fiction and non-fiction. Whatever takes my interest, what friends and family suggest, and authors that I like.
And I always am open to suggestions. Now that people seem to know that I read, more and more people are suggesting books for me to read. I love it, it's how I find our about many more books. I don't guarantee that I'll review it, but I will probably try to read it.
When to read?
I read for about an hour every day. We have had scheduled ‘rest time’ in our family since the children started dropping their day sleep. After lunch ABC2 or a DVD goes on for about an hour. It happens less now, as 2 kids are at school and our youngest is at pre-school. But the understanding is that if you are home, rest time happens and it is also for Mummy who gets some quiet time then. If we have plans that night, I also try to include my bible reading and prayer in that time, but more usually, I leave that for early evening, and put my feet up with a pot of tea, some dark chocolate and I read. These days I read about 30 mins of fiction and 30 mins of a Christian book. It’s not specified, I just find I relax with the tea, chocolate and fiction, and then am ready to turn my mind to weightier things after!
What about you? How do you choose what to read? When do you read?