Friday, December 23, 2016

Book reading plan for 2017

Darryl Dash wrote yesterday on his blog,
When my kids were younger they attended schools with an initiative called “Drop Everything and Read.” The idea was simple. Students could pick their own book, lay aside other obligations, and read for the joy of it. There would be no tests or reports. I loved the idea.
When I taught first grade, waaaaaay back thirty years ago, we did the DEAR program. We loved it. I taught in a PK-2 school then and when the principal announced DEAR time we all dropped everything and read for the pleasure of it. Nowadays, the day is so crammed for students with tasks and assessments and being 'productive,' that reading for pleasure is often scooted to the side. Sadly.

Mr Dash wrote his essay intended as an encouragement for pastors not to neglect good reading, hefty reading, non-fiction reading...all reading. It's part of the job. He said that when we leave reading until the end of the day after everything is finished, we don't read.

I have found this to be true. My day, just as most of you have experienced, is crammed with so many obligations and tasks, that I've left reading to the end and consider it a leisure activity. But it's not. Reading good books about missionaries, books on theology, commentaries, or just plain good fiction (Elmer Gantry!!!!) helps keep our mind sharp and encourages our thinking. And make no mistake, Christianity is a thinking religion.

I've made a decision to read more. I have gotten out of the habit. I downloaded Challies' reading program and selected the 'Avid level.'

There aren't many rules, just go through the list at the pace suggested. One can mix up the order, but I'm a rule follower and I'm going through it in the order given. Starting at the very top of the Challies list, my first book, the biography, will be-

Hearts of Fire: Eight Women in the Underground Church and Their Stories of Costly Faith by Voice of the Martyrs

The classic novel will be The Encantadas and Other Stories by Herman Melville.
And, Ben-Hur.
I'll also be also finishing Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.

A book about history will be Life in a Medieval Castle by Frances Gies and Joseph Gies.
I'll also finish Salt: A World History by Michael Kurlansky.

I'm not looking forward to 'A Book Targeted at My Gender' and really have no clue about that one. It's hard, being child-free and unmarried at age 56, but I'll do my diligence and scrape a female book up from somewhere. Maybe Women's Ministry in the Local Church by Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt, hee hee.

The book about theology will be Concise Theology by J. I. Packer

A book of at least 400 pages will be Fireside Book of Dog Stories, 1943, by Jack Goodman (Editor), James Thurber (Introduction)

A book my pastor recommends will be decided upon later, when I get to that point and ask him.

A book about Christian living will be What Every Christian Ought to Know by Adrian Rogers.

A book more than 100 years old will be easy to choose, I have tons of them laying around. Maybe The Decameron by Boccaccio (almost 700 years old) or Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions by Edward Abbott which is over 130 years. I've read Flatland before, but focused on the math. This time I want to focus on the sly satire on Victorian mores, and maybe combine reading it with some Lytton Strachey.

Those are the starters.

I already posses the books I've mentioned, except for the women's book by Duncan and Hunt. I already own all these! I have had some of them for 20 or 30 for years, always saying "I'll get to them some day." Some of these I've been carrying from apartment to apartment from Maine to Georgia, since 2004. Don't get me wrong, I've made hefty use of Amazon and the Public Library and Kindle and have read many books. I've also read many of the books I personally own. But I turned 56 years old last week and I've been toting around some of these for 10, 20, 25 years, always intending to read them. Like The Decameron. I bought that book after my first trip to Italy in 1990 when I was 30. It's shocking how fast time flies.

So I decided to Drop Everything And Read. Time is too DEAR to waste any more on stupid TV or unprofitable activity. Once you get out of the habit of reading, whether due to social distractions or technology or work pressures, it is hard to get back into it. And since time is always short, I have to MAKE time to read.

It's my resolution anyway. We'll see how that goes.

From current apartment all the way back to 2004, no matter how small the apartment I always had books.

This bookcase filled rapidly,
especially after I received my MacArthur Commentaries.

I had to co-opt a table into becoming another bookcase.

In this apartment I had four six-foot bookcases, filled.

This was an attic apartment of a Cape Cod style house in Maine
with a weirdly shaped middle room due to the low ceiling & dormers.
I made it my library.

This was a temporary transition apartment which was really
a furnace room in a garage, but I made do and brought my books.

When I moved out of the temporary apartment above,
I lived here which was one of the best places. It also had a large deck
onto which I'd go out and read, when I had time.
I was running my own business then and time was in short supply.


Anonymous said...

Inspired by this post this morning--those books sound terrific. "Time is too DEAR to waste...on unprofitable activity." You are right about that!

Grace to You said...

This was so interesting to is good to know one is not alone in their obsession with books. :)

I was especially grateful for your admission that you have been toting books around with you for 30 years without reading them...I am in the same boat! The oldest have been through 10 moves from North Carolina to Missouri to Maine, back to North Carolina and on to Colorado.

While we were in Missouri I started getting rid of books - it was painful, but I felt so guilty about the ones I hadn't read, and I was amazed at how much lighter I felt without that burden of guilt weighing me down. I've continued to get rid of books ever since, but there are still some I can't part with.

The good news is that the task of reading what's left is not overwhelming anymore, so I started working on that last year. I too had gotten out of the habit of reading books, as I was reading a lot online, but I cut back on that last year and managed to read quite a few books. Not only were most of them very good and/or helpful, I also had a wonderful sense of accomplishment, which I have never gotten from reading anything online.

I have a recommendation for you if you're ever looking for a good commentary on the gospels or the book of Acts....I've been reading F. B. Hole's book "The Gospels and Acts," which I've had for at least 20 years, and it is excellent. He is very succinct, which I think you would appreciate, and he has a wonderful gift of insight into the Scriptures, particularly in sensing order in things, which I also think you would appreciate. Here's an example from Matthew 5, the beatitudes:

Repentance produces poverty of spirit, and there all must start. Then comes the mourning and the meekness induced by a true sight on oneself, followed by a thirst for the righteousness which is only found in God. Then, filled with that, the saint comes out in God's own character - mercy, purity, peace. But the world does not want God or His character, hence persecution closes the list.

Happy Reading in 2017!

Elizabeth Prata said...

I felt better too when I gave so many away. Thank you for the recommendation of Hole's book :)