I've read through about ten to fifteen books this Summer. The following list contains the five I would recommend.
We don’t do anything in life without motivation.
We mow the grass because we don’t want the neighbors calling the H.O.A. We take the car in for an oil change because we like having a car that runs. We exercise because we don’t want to be overweight.
The same is true of reading. The reason why many people don’t read books on a regular basis is just that they aren’t motivated to do so. They don’t see the benefit or use of reading. After all, life is so busy — family, work, church, other commitments — that reading seems like something that “less busy” people do. So, why should people make the time and take the effort to read books?
When was the last time you slowed down enough to fill up your soul with a good book?
1. Our souls don’t replenish themselves.
Reading is a way we can pour fresh life into our often-weary souls. John Piper was well aware of this when he wrote, “I, for one, am not a self-replenishing spring. My bucket leaks, even when it is not pouring. My spirit does not revive on the run. Without the time of unhurried reading and reflection, beyond the press of (life), my soul shrinks… Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.” When was the last time you slowed down enough to fill up your soul with a good book?
2. Words change lives.
In God’s wisdom, He has designed words to inspire, create, and reveal ideas that revolutionize life as we know it. Books do not change lives, ideas do. And ideas flow from well-ordered, sequenced words. Have you ever stopped to consider the Bible itself is a deposit of words that reveal glorious realities about eternity, death, heaven, hell, life, and God Himself? And while there is no other book divinely inspired like the Bible, all books contain ideas that can be life-shaping, even life-altering, when reading in light of The Book. How many life-altering ideas are left unfound simply because we don’t read?
Martyn Lloyd-Jones once remarked that reading is a fight for one’s life. He’s right. If we are to be growing, flourishing people that impact others we must read books — our souls depend on it. So, pick up a book, put down the phone, and read.
"In the mean time he will enable you to sow the seed in patience, leaving the event in his hands. Though it does not spring up visibly at once, it will not be lost. I think He would not have sent you if He had not a people there to call; but they can only come forth to view as He is pleased to bring them. Satan will try to hinder and disturb you; but he is in a chain which he cannot break, nor go a step farther than he is permitted. And if you have been instrumental to the conversion of but a few, in those few you have an ample reward already for all the difficulties you have or can meet with. It is more honourable and important to be an instrument of saving one soul, than to rescue a whole kingdom from temporal ruin. Let us therefore, while we earnestly desire to be more useful, not forget to be thankful for what the Lord has been pleased already to do for us; and let us expect, knowing whose servants we are, and what a Gospel we preach, to see some new miracles wrought from day to day: for indeed every real conversion may be accounted miraculous, being no less than an immediate exertion of that power which made the heavens, and commanded the light to shine out of darkness. Your little telescope is safe. I wish I had more of that clear air and sunshine you speak of, that with you I might have more distinct views of the land of promise. I cannot say my prospect is greatly clouded by doubts of my reaching it at last; but then there is such a languor and deadness hangs upon my mind, that it is almost amazing to me how I can entertain any hopes at all. It seems, if doubting could ever be reasonable, there is no one who has greater reason for doubting than myself. But I know not how to doubt, when I consider the faithfulness, grace, and compassion of Him who has promised. If it could be proved that Christ had not died, or that he did not speak the words which are ascribed to him in the Gospel, or that he is not able to make them good, or that his word cannot safely be taken; in any of these cases I should doubt to purpose, and lie down in despair."
-John Newton , The Works of John Newton: Volume 1 (pages 698-699)
Purchase the book(s) here:
In his book, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, David Mikics writes, “The digital world offers us many advantages, but if we yield to that world too completely we may lose the privacy we need to develop a self. Activities that require time and careful attention, like serious reading, are at risk; we read less and skim more as the Internet occupies more of our lives.”
No doubt, we all feel this constant tug-of-war between purposeful consumption of content (i.e., books, audio resources, etc.) and meaningless consumption of media. Each day we live in what Mikics calls a “digital hurricane” — a constant swirl of information beckoning for our attention and focus.
How do we fight this hurricane? Through intentional, directed consumption of meaningful content that contributes to the building of self (for more on this topic, I suggest Andy Crouch’s excellent book).
"We all feel the constant tug-of-war between purposeful consumption of content and meaningless consumption of media."
I do this, in part, by choosing specific categories to learn in. I then find content in these areas and consume written, audio, and video content based on my predetermined plan. The categories I use are the following:
Once again, this isn’t limited to books. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and videos about these topics on a weekly basis. I have found time and time again that categorical content consumption helps me live intentionally about my learning and whole-self-development. I recommend it to you.
I recently finished a stack of books I had been reading through over the past several weeks. I hope you'll find something helpful in this list of recent reads.