How to Read a Book (Part 3)

As I mentioned in a previous post reading the notes may pave a trail to other good authors who write good books.  This practice will also help you accomplish another key to reading that I find helpful; read in themes.
I find reading entertaining, but that is not the primary reason why I read.  I read to learn.  I read so that I can be a better communicator.  I read to gain wisdom and discernment.  I read as an act of worship.  The Bible calls for me to love the Lord with my mind (Matthew 22:37).  Our faith is not to be without the brain, so I read. 
Because reading is about learning I like to read in themes.  By reading in themes I mean that I like to read several books about a certain subject consecutively.  This is not a strange concept, especially if you attended college.  Your history professor required you to read in themes, as did your biology teacher.  For a semester they had you search, research, and read books that were focused on a certain discipline. Reading in themes makes you a student in the field.  With each book the information builds.  A few books down the path you will begin to notice repeated arguments, research, people, places, and events.  Every author offers his or her unique perspective, but because you have “done a little reading” on the topic you will find yourself not merely a passive reader, but a discerning one who is joining the conversation.
I also like to plan ahead.  Because I have been in school for the past few years my professors have picked my themes.  But from time to time when I had a month or two between classes I chose my own course.  The year before last I had a WWII summer.  The summer before that I read all the classics I was supposed to read in High School, but barely did.  Have fun with your plan.  Be creative.  Here are a few suggested “thematic” reading lists:
1.       New York Times Bestsellers from the year you graduated high school.
2.       Great leaders.
3.       Because I don’t know enough about _____________.
4.       It’s all Greek to me – perhaps a summer of Greek history, poets, and mythology.
5.       A few months of theology.
6.       Biographies of dead presidents. 
7.       Three Bible commentaries on a certain book cover to cover.
8.       The guy who invented _____________.
9.       Versus.  For example – read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and The Dawkins Delusion by Alister McGrath.  There are several excellent 4 views books series published by various Christian publishing houses such as 4 Views on Hell, Divorce and Remarriage 4 Views, 4 Views on Eternal Security, etc.  These books have never really changed my views on certain positions but they have helped me learn to appreciate those with whom I do not agree and to better understand them as people.
10.   How to be a Biblical husband, father, man OR wife, mother, woman.
Perhaps planning ahead will help you not simply accomplish books (read them cover to cover), but to learn from them.  For me the fun is in the planning.  Once you determine what you want to learn, begin searching.  Use your cell phone to take pictures.  Make a wish list.  Ask questions.  If you want to spend some time in the classics, don’t be ashamed to send a note home with your kid’s English teacher and ask for a suggested list.  The teacher will probably find it refreshing that a student’s parent hasn’t stopped learning themselves.  Go to the library and tell the librarian what you want to learn.  Those people are book worms and they will point you in the right direction.  As I stated in a previous post – ask your pastor.  If your pastor is a great preacher, I promise you he is also a reader.  He will have some suggestions.
 Every great book has a theme.  So do great readers!


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