New Years resolutions may seems like opportunities for failure, but I think we can all appreciate the sentiment behind them. We make New Years Resolutions because we want to be better. I’d like to run more, read more, eat better, and serve my wife more. I recognize how having a baby come July will make each of those things more challenging so I hesitate to make any hard and fast resolutions. However, I would like to suggestions toward getting a little more out of our interactions with pop culture, so I am thinking I will post some pop culture resolutions and perhaps they will help you interact with the world we live in a little more thoughtfully to the glory of God. If they do not accomplish that, feel free to express as much in the comments!
How to Read More (and more thoughtfully):
I feel like I have been reading a lot lately, which is a weird thing for me to say because I probably read more than the average person, but lately I have really upped my reading quota and I thought I would share with you how I have managed to do so:
1. Embrace a little technology: This Christmas I bought an eReader (B&N’s Nook) and the result is that I have found reading to be more convenient and accessible. Additionally, I have a Nook App on my Andriod phone (they have one for iPhone as well) and I have fond it relatively enjoyable to read on my phone as well. So when I am waiting to have my oil changed or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, so long as I have my phone with me (which is always) then I can read (if you are connected to the internet, your book marks will sink from Nook to your phone app). Rich has shared that having an iPad has helped him to read more, I would say that having an eReader has caused me to both read more eBooks and more print books. This year, I also became a member of Audible–which means I get one free mp3 audio book every month and discounts on their audio library and I have found fiction particularly enjoyable in the audio format. Certainly eReaders and mp3 books are not for everyone but you can read books in many more convenient ways than going to the library or the book store simply by embracing some tech!
2. Expand your gaze: Read outside your normal diet of reading. If you want to grow to love reading more, read something you normally wouldn’t consider reading. Because I serve as a pastor at a church, I find myself reading a lot of Bible commentaries and books on the ministry. I mostly enjoy these books but if I am honest, they can begin to run together and all start to sound the same. Sometimes when a new book on the church comes out, I quickly start feeling like I have read it before. If you always read the same things, reading can begin to feel monotonous–so I have remedied this by determining to read more fiction and doing so has rekindled my love for all kinds of reading. By reading things outside your comfort zone you may actually discover whole new worlds and ideas that will reinvigorate your love for reading. You might also discover what you don’t like but that can be helpful as well. In forcing myself to read more fiction, I have been challenged to think about what makes us human, I have been challenged to be more creative, more thoughtful, more empathetic–its yet to see how much reading will change me, but expanding my gaze has been encouraging and eye opening.
3. Ask for Recommendations: Life is too short to read bad books. I could recommend a whole host of Bible commentaries and books on the church but when it comes to fiction, ask Carissa or Seth or my friend Lisa or someone who reads more fiction–they probably have some good recommendations and will help you steer clear of the average and narrow your gaze to what is really great. If you want to read some great books on theology or the local church, by all means ask me (though I can’t promise you will like them as much as I do). My point is that there are a lot of bad books out there and I think people find reading tedious and boring sometimes because they are reading bad books. Who do you know who is a thoughtful reader? Ask them for recommendations, look for thoughtful book reviews, just because something is a New York Times bestseller doesn’t mean it is worthy of your time. Part of what I love about reading is talking about what I read with others–that is what another benefit of asking for a recommendation–if you read what that person recommends you immediately have someone to talk with about the book. However, all recommendations are not created equal, if someone recommends a book, ask them why–this will help you determine if its worthy of your time.
4. Interact with what you read: If you enjoyed a particular book, take some time to articulate why–this will help you think about what to read in the future and how to expand your palate of reading. Write a short post on Facebook or your personal journal or even Twitter stating why the book was worth your time. This will do two things–it will help you learn read more thoughtfully because you will be forced to articulate the main theme of the book and secondly it will pass on the love of reading to others. Perhaps I am weird but I love to talk about reading, especially with people who have read a book I loved, but also with people who haven’t. I would also encourage you to do the same with books you don’t like. If you don’t like a book you will gain nothing from the experience of reading it if you don’t articulate why and consequently you will continued to be wooed by poorly written books.
I realize this is a far from comprehensive list, but I have upped my diet of reading and enjoyed doing so–so if one of these suggestions helps you read more and get more out of what you read, then I count it a post worth writing.