In our modern age of technology, social media, information overload, and frenetic lifestyles, finding 30 minutes, much less 5, to crack open a book and snatch a few moments to indulge in the delights and wonders of the written word is seemingly impossible. Those fringe hours elude our desperate grasp.
Reading becomes exactly that: an indulgence. Not a necessity, but a luxury for the privileged few.
And yet, reading and books are essential for understanding and practicing what it means to be human. Reading requires forced reflection and meditation, contemplation upon the experiences and stories of other beings, real and imagined. Reading demands our full attention; we cannot comprehend the words on the page when our minds fly in a thousand directions due to incessant, external (and internal) distractions.
As C. S. Lewis eloquently espoused,
Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or a bee; more gladly still would I perceive the olfactory world charged with all the information and emotion it carries for a dog.
Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.An Experiment in Criticism (1961)
Reading… A Spiritual Discipline
Developing a habit of reading–and the sheer number of literary works available–may present a daunting task. Let’s break it down. Suppose the following:
- You are 35 years old and can expect to live until 90 (55 years left)
- You only read one book a year now, which means you will only read 55 more books
- You can read a book in about 10 hours
- You are awake about 16 hours a day (32 half-hours)
- You spend 1.5 minutes reading every day
Now, let’s say you spend 30 minutes–only ONE of those 32 half-hours–reading, you can read 1,000 books in the next 55 years. Yep, 1,000 books!
It is all about habits, or as I would call it, spiritual discipline. Stop checking social media and the news so often, even your text messages. Ignore all the dinging notifications on your smartphone, and whenever you find yourself with a few seconds to spare–going through a car wash, waiting for a meal, sitting in the doctor’s office, on your lunch break, walking the dog, etc.–pick up a book and read. There is no excuse, especially with the variety of ways in which to read: audiobooks and ebooks are incredible!
In the effort of disciplining myself, I began reading every single day. I thought it would be fun to have you all see the list of books I have read thus far in 2019.
Books I Have Read
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- The Legend of Sam Miracle by N. D. Wilson
- The Song of Glory and Ghost by N. D. Wilson
- Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt
- The Violent Bear It Away & Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor
- Little Britches series ( Father and I Were Ranchers, Man of the Family, The Home Ranch, Mary Emma & Company, The Fields of Home, Shaking the Nickel Bush, The Dry Divide, Horse of a Different Color) by Ralph Moody
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- With by Skye Jethani
- The House at Pooh Corner & When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
- The Wisdom of God by Nancy Guthrie
- The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- All-of-a-kind Family by Sydney Taylor
- All-of-a-kind Family Downtown by Sydney Taylor
- The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
- Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
- If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey
- The Christian Imagination by Leland Ryken
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Fear Not, Dream Big, and Execute by Jeff Meyer
- The Berinfell Prophecies series (Curse of the Spider King, Venom and Song, The Tide of Unmaking) by Wayne Thomas Batson
- The Door Within trilogy (The Door Within, The Rise of the Wyrm Lord, The Final Storm) by Wayne Thomas Batson
- The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
- Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
- All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
- 1984 by George Orwell
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- The Wingfeather Saga (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, North! Or Be Eaten, The Monster in the Hollows, The Warden and the Wolf King) by Andrew Peterson