In my last post, I talked about the importance of having a plan to read the Bible systematically and intentionally. This week I would like to encourage you to have a system or a plan to read through a set of good books every year. There are a lot of different ideas and thoughts surrounding how many books and what types of genres you should focus on. As with the Bible reading plan, I have landed on a system that is not too constraining and gives me a lot of freedom to make choices throughout the year.
I have found over time that if I box myself in at the beginning of the year with a list of book titles to read, then I lose momentum and the freedom to choose topics based on what is happening at different moments in my life. I have also found that if I don’t have a general outline of the types of books I want to read, I will inevitably not read the hard books and gravitate to the quick and easy ones or no books at all.
What works best for me is to set a goal of reading a certain number of books from a pre-determined list of genres. I may list out a few titles in the beginning that I really do want to read, but I try to leave as much room as possible for developing that over the coming months as my interests develop and situations begin to dictate a necessity to learn more about a particular topic. My 2016 list currently looks like the following:
- Bible Two-year Plan
- Currently reading in 1 Samuel
- Currently reading in 1 Corinthians
- Commentary / Devotional 
- Christian Contemporary 
- Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
- The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times by Robert Morgan
- Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ by Tony Reinke [Currently Reading]
- You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions by Tim Chester
- Christian Classics 
- History / Biography 
- Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
- C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet
by Alister E. McGrath [Currently Reading]
- Science / Scholar 
- Longitude by Dava Sobel
- Leadership / Development 
- Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
- How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath
- Current Events / Thoughts 
- Literature 
- The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Novels / Fiction 
- Plague Ship (The Oregon Files #5) by Clive Cussler
- The Maze Runner Series (The Maze Runner 1-3) by James Dashner
- Harry Potter Series (Harry Potter 1-3) by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) by J.K. Rowling [Currently Reading]
As you can tell, I like to try and get a well rounded reading plan together for the year. I have found this helpful in two ways. First, It helps ensure that I am reading books that will help me grow and develop as a person and not just pass the time. Second, It teaches me to continue to grow and widen my circle of knowledge. I don’t want to get caught in a circle of only reading theological books or even avoiding them all together. I want to engage my mind through a varied array of disciplines that will challenge me to think outside myself and my circle of life. Yet, I also want to challenge myself with the deep things of God. I want to learn from the spiritual thinkers of today and those that have stood the test of time.
I would encourage you to develop your own system and plan for reading a variety of books throughout the year. Start small and grow the amount you read over the years. You will find that the more you read and challenge yourself, the more you will want to read and be challenged.