Recently a friend and co-laborer were discussing books and he told me I should get on goodreads. I had a goodreads account from years ago, and so I spent a few minutes on Saturday updating my “shelves”, as I marked off the books I’ve read (goodreads is tied to my amazon account so this makes it very easy to do) I saw the total number just go up and up.
When you add up my goodreads books and the books in my Audible library, in the last ten years I have read at least 300 books. This doesn’t even seem possible. It didn’t seem like I was reading this much. But as I counted them up, I’ve read A LOT of books.
So that leads me to ask two questions: How on earth did I read that much and what in the world did I read?
How did I read that much?
I do almost all of my reading in the little pockets of the day when I have a second. When I ride with my family, my wife does almost all the driving and I read a bit. When we go to a swim meet and there is down time, I read a bit. When I’m stuck in line at a store, I read a bit. I’ve done almost all my reading on kindle and have my kindle always with me. I don’t browse Facebook and Twitter, I read whatever book I’m reading.
Audible has been a huge part of this too. When I go for runs, I listen to books. When I have to sweep a floor or fold laundry, I listen to books. On my daily ten minute commute to the office and back, I listen to books.
Of course, reading is a part of sermon prep. Every week I am reading concurrent chapters in three or four different commentaries.
Before I go to sleep at night, I read for a few minutes (I don’t watch a lot of TV). When we go on vacation, I always set aside time to read.
So how did I read 300 books in the last ten years? In five to ten minute packets, whenever I had a spare minute or could do some work mindlessly.
What did I read?
These are the types of books I read:
- Commentaries (Kent Hughes, David Guzik, and the “For You” series are my favorite)
- Christian living/philosophy books (The two Wilsons are my favorite authors in this regard – Douglas Wilson and Jared C. Wilson)
- Ministry books – (i.e. Preaching by Timothy Keller)
- Classic Novels (Narnia, P.G. Wodehouse, books like 1984 and The Jungle)
- Contemporary Novels (I’ve been known to read an occasional Jack Reacher or Brad Thor novel, I also occasionally enjoy young adult fiction – Lemony Snicket, Andrew Klavan, etc.)
- Biographies (Alexander Hamilton, Einstein, Leonardo DaVinci, etc.)
- Historical books (The Great Flu, anything by Nathaniel Philbrick)
- Productivity and Business books (i.e. Atomic Habits, everything by Mike Michalowicz)
- Web development/Software project management books (i.e. Making Work Visible, Sprint, User Story Mappingetc.)
I think the key here is (with the exception of commentaries) I just follow my interests. Right now I’m on an old fantasy novel kick, so I’m reading the Narnia books to my kids at night before they go to bed and listening to The Hobbit as I drive back and forth to my office in the morning. We are building a habit forming exercise app for a client, so I’m reading Hooked by Nir Eyal (a book about building habit forming apps), I’m preaching on family issues on Sunday Night, so I’m reading lots of books about childrearing and marriage by Christian authors.
Next month I may be curious about the life of John Knox, or the Scotch Irish settlement of Appalachia, or better managing my calendar, so I might spend time reading books about that stuff. Do this kind of reading for long enough, and you’ll look back and say “Oh, wow, I read over thirty books this year and over 300 in the last nine years.” It happens faster than you think.