What books to do you plan to read this summer for your personal growth? Summer is a great time to pick up the hobby of reading good books. I’ve loved reading since I was kid and these days, I plan my reading so that I always have a good book ready when I have time. This week, I want to spend some time talking about the discipline of reading and share some ideas from my years of experience that might help you to be a more involved and informed reader. I’m no expert but I have gleaned some great ideas from others that I have used to effectively help me pick better books, read MORE books than I thought I ever could, and also apply what I’ve read to my life and work situation.
Pastor and Author Nelson Searcy advocates reading 40-to-50 books a year in his well done audio resource “Planning A One Year Personal Growth Plan” and I agree that is a good goal to shoot for. But HOW do you do it? Many reading this want to increase their reading I’m sure but when it comes time to do it, they wind up spinning their wheels and reading a book or two each year and never really feel satisfied with their effort. So for this first part of my 3-part series, let’s look at how we can organize and plan to read more. I promise you it will be painless.
Steve Leveen, in his book “The Little Guide to Your Well Read Life” suggests a tool to organize your bookshelves for reading. Without being too wordy, the system basically allows you to organize your shelves by books you are planning to read, those you have read, and those you will review again after reading. You might ask “why review?” and that I will discuss later this week. For now, let’s just look at your plan. Digital tools like the excellent “Shelfari” social networking site allow you to set up virtual shelves on your computer if you are space hindered in your home. I have several shelves set up on my Shelfari site for books on my “wish list” that I want to read, those I am currently reading, and those I have read and reviewed. Shelfari is like Facebook for bibliophiles but it is very easy to use. The key is for you to HAVE A PLAN. Whatever you choose to use, organize a reading list for your personal growth and then stick to it.
What should I read? It really depends on your interests and where you want to grow in the coming months. As a pastor, I want to continually be growing in my spiritual walk so I plan my reading by including books on Theology, Philosophy, and of course my daily Bible Reading. As a leader, I want to grow in those areas so I include many books in that genre both Christian and Secular. There is much to be gained from great business leaders like Ram Charan, David Allen, Ken Blanchard, and Peter Senge. The key is when you begin to review, take notes, and apply the books to your life, then you can find ways to make the text applicable to your life situation.
Once you have your areas of interest written down, then organize a list. Ask others who read what they are reading. Check out the reading suggestions on sites like Shelfari. Another good idea is to find a book of reading lists that you can review to make some initial selections. I reviewed one by Eugene Peterson and there are many others out there depending on your interests. Once you have some suggestions, pick a few and begin your journey. It doesn’t have to be expensive either as many libraries carry these books and these days, you can go online to larger library cooperatives in your region an reserve the books ahead of time to check out.
In the end, your reading success or failure will be a result of your prior planning. Plan well and you will greatly enjoy the endeavor. Plan poorly and you will still be spinning your wheels a year from now. As I stated, summer is good time to get into the habit of reading. You can take it slower, enjoy your time in books, and increase your intake of good reading heading into the fall.
Wednesday in Part Two, I will discuss ways you can take notes, interact with, and apply the books that you are reading. Until then, get planning!