Thoughts on Reading

I enjoy reading Tim Challies blog at and have just read his post on reading. It is something that I have recently reflected upon myself- why I read. The reason I was reflecting on it is that I am reading Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections again. Although i haven’t read the book for a number of years I was shocked when I started to read it again. I was shocked by how much it had influenced me and yet I could remember so little of the detail. It reminded me that reading for me has, during my adult life, been something that I have engaged in to give me a suite of mental furniture.

I seldom takes notes when I read. Nor do I underline books- I was put off that practice by a fearsome university lecturer! My interest in reading a book in seldom in consuming the detail  but using it as an aid to thought. The book becomes an interlocutor as I engage with its ideas. It is through this that my own thinking is shaped. Thankfully I usually retain some detail, if the book is good. And like Challies I usually retain the capacity to revisit the page where I read something- though i wonder how long that will last the more I read and the older I get.

I believe that good reading and consistently reading has been of immense benefit in my Christian growth. Like Challies I’m grateful for the gift of reading, the provision of books and the joy I have received through this practice over the years. I would earnestly encourage all Christians to start reading for its immense spiritual benefit. I would encourage you in part because I’m not naturally a reader. Often I find it hard work to keep reading. Due to ill health I often missed school when I was younger and I reckon it took me a long time to catch up in terms of reading.  My reading at times remains frustratingly slow. But the benefits far outweigh the labour. It is a great discipline to keep reading and forms an important dimension of training ourselves to be godly.

If you’re a blogger but not a disciplined reader how about an IT fast until you read and finish a good book?

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on Reading”

  1. Budgeting on books « Taking every thought captive Says:

    […] Tim Challies wrote yesterday on his Excessive Reading. It prompted our pastor to comment on it in Thoughts on Reading earlier today. Unlike him I’ve always been a reader, but however we approach reading, I agree […]

  2. sibbesian Says:

    I’m sure you’re probably right about reading pencil in hand Peter. It’s probably a more disciplined way to read and I can see that it may have longer term benefits. Although I think I’m still under the spell of a university lecturer who once told me that if you couldn’t remember it then it probably wasn’t worth writing down in the first place! I’m not sure he applied this rule when marking exams.
    Perhaps because I’m a slow reader I’m reluctant to slow myself down further by note taking. A word of encouragement for slow readers is John Piper’s comment- he also classes himself as slow reader- that even reading slowly for 20 minutes a day we can accomplish a good deal.
    Of course I can’t remember where I read that! Possibly in ‘When I Don’t Desire God.’

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