Last year I decided that I wanted to read more. Because I have lived with the assumption that everyone else reads more than I do, and sometimes absurd comparisons like that can lead to positive life changes. So, I'm gonna read.
I ended up reading more than 12 books (13 to be exact), which is more than I've ever read in a calendar year in my 32 years of life.
THIS year I chose to set a goal. A goal that would push me further, but also a goal that I could absolutely obliterate if I really wanted to. And also, I suppose, in the process of demolishing my goals I would get to read a lot of really great books that help my brain be better and stuff.
The goal - Read 18 books. 1.5 per month.
Or, more likely, 2 for the first ten months and 16 through November and December.
In January I finished 6 books! (full disclosure, two of them I began reading in 2015, but this is my goal, and I'm excited, so shut it!)
Since then I've managed to find space to read and listen to some books that I have wanted to dive into for quite a while now. I think there are two reasons this is succeeding, and they apply to just about any goal you might have:
a) I have to choose [reading] instead of other activities.
Which include but are not limited to: watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, watching baseball, sleeping, scrolling Instagram, giggling at Jimmy Fallon vids, and staring aimlessly at the ceiling.
b) I have been rewarded by [reading] in ways I didn't know I could be.
Which include but are not limited to: reading to my wife (Harry Potter), learning how to talk about the Bible to my kids (Telling the Story), and growing a passion for a need I was unaware of (It's Not Okay With Me).
Here's the first 8 books I read this year.
*With a tiny review and completely objective score attached*
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling - (4/5), I am loving these books, and this one was really exciting with the tournament and all, but I get to the end and feel like I could've saved some time and just read the last 3 chapters to capture everything that happened that year at Hogwarts. Maybe that's normal, but it cost Rowling on my scoring system.
2. Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal - (2/5) I read this for my Leadership Development class, it's another classic case of a blog post that was extended into a book. Could have been much shorter, there were a couple of great chapters, but too many words.
3. It's Not Okay With Me, Janine Maxwell - (5/5) I don't know how to talk about this book, the stories are gut-wrenching, the challenge is immense, and a response is required. I know and care about hurting children in the slums of Kenya more than I ever have.
4. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield - (5+/5) *Second Reading* The easiest to read, most underlined, and most kick in the butt challenging book I know. If you want to not do what you're made for, keep not reading this book. Otherwise, get it, now.
5. Flesh, Hugh Halter - (4.5/5) A great way to look at how we think about Church. Halter is bold and seems to be the real deal, living out what he's talking about. He almost has inspired me to be a bi-vocational pastor...not yet though.
6. Telling the Story, Peter Enns - (5/5) I'm so very thankful for this book at a time when we are trying to figure out how to talk to our kids about the Bible in a non-fundamentalist way. Enns suggests that we start with Jesus, and always point to Jesus. It seems so obvious, right?
7. Covenant & Kingdom, Mike Breen - (3/5) Love the practicality of reading the Bible through this lens, but he could have cut the book in half.
8. Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli - (5/5) Such a beautiful display of story and truth that speaks beyond academic knowledge to the depth of your soul. Reminds me a lot of Brennan Manning; we are a mess and in the mess is where we find God, so deal with it.
I understand that for some of you, this is not a big deal at all. It would be like me trying to have a marathon runner be excited that I walked to pick up the mail today; it's a good start. And I agree, it is a good start. I doubt I'll ever be someone that reads 100 books in a year or more, I don't think I have to be. So, today, I'm celebrating the small goals, and the fact that I'm on pace to beat my big goal!
Get out there, set a goal, and move towards it.
By the way, I will post the next 8 books shortly.
Currently I'm reading a few different ones: The Alchemist (FINALLY), Love Does, The King Jesus Gospel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Show Your Work.
What are you reading?!