Putting Flesh on the Reading Skeleton

In my last post I argued for the necessity of communal reading, specifically, reading aloud together as a family. The discussion of this practice naturally leads to questions about the reading life in general. I don’t, however, want to give the impression that the reading aloud that we do as a family should constitute the entirety of our reading. This will only be a single tool in our arsenal, and I plan to briefly suggest others to give a fuller perspective about what the Christian reading life can be like.

To assist us in filling out the picture of our reading lives, we need to ask ourselves about our goals. This doesn’t have to be a overwhelming question, but it can make you ask why you do a lot of things that you do. This is why the choices of where we direct our attention are pivotal. In the day of the smartphone and the television, if you are not intentional about reading, exercising, praying, etc. you will have something else presented forced to your attention for consideration. Technology, for better or worse has presented us with this difficulty. Why do you want to read?

While you’re wrestling with some of your objectives there, let me throw out additional options to enable the reading life to grow in a way that will help you accomplish your goals.

  • Reading aloud together- Again, I discussed this last time, so review the post if you haven’t seen it here.
  • Discussion about what you’re reading- My wife and I have reading tastes that can be quite disparate sometimes, but we still have a good time telling each other about what we’re reading and why we think its important (or not!). In some respects, we’ve both come around on some subjects, and they’ve gradually made their way to our ‘reading together’ list.
  • Audiobooks- This topic deserves many posts, though it would fall outside the scope of this blog. Jessica Manuel, English prof and blogger has written up several pieces on audio books and reading in general to get you started. The important thing to see here is that you can squeeze in this kind of ‘reading’ in many places and situations. Check out Jessica’s post. I highly recommend it.
  • Individual reading- This is undoubtedly where the meat of your reading life will reside. Privately, you can read books to entertain, inform, or challenge you. You will need to spend time sorting out why you want to be reading and planning how you are going to get there.

I’m aware that much more can be said here about the various ways in which we get the reading accomplished that we would like to. I can’t say enough how helpful a planning session can be for organizing your reading life into the kind of shape that suits your responsibilities and life situation. We will not drift into accomplishing these goals; let us take a long term view on shaping ourselves and our families with our reading. Let me know your thoughts on this post! Our reading lives can look very different so I would love to hear from you about what works and what doesn’t. If you’d like to receive regular updates to this blog, simply subscribe below.

2 thoughts on “Putting Flesh on the Reading Skeleton

  1. This was just what I needed to read. I am having the hardest time disciplining myself. It takes “discipline” for me to read! (Apparently!) At first I always considered myself too busy, but now I am noticing just what I spend my free time on and that it could easily be replaced by reading and I still don’t read! I just thought I was crazy that I read this while going through this mental struggle.

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  2. Thanks, Sarah. For hectic schedules, one author recommended establishing a reading schedule that you can reliably commit to. It needs to be realistic- so you could start by committing to reading 15 minutes every day at a specific time. Sometimes a plan is all you need to get the reading done that you would like to.

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