How to Use Books Well

open book

Reading is one of life’s great pleasures. It is an amazing thing to open a book or tablet, and to think someone else’s thoughts. Reading informs, entertains, challenges, and shapes us. Many of our lives have changed because of something we’ve read.

Reading is also one of our greatest responsibilities. Jesus taught that we’re accountable for all that God has entrusted to us. I own (or license) close to 10,000 books in Kindle, Logos, and paper. I have access to another 10.6 million books in the Toronto Public Library. You may have more or less access than I do, but what we have is staggering.

How can we enjoy our access to books, and also steward our access responsibly?

Prioritize Books

I’m grateful for blogs and magazines, but I’m convinced we should prioritize books. Tim Sanders advises:

Most important, read good books. If your mind diet is weighted heavily toward reading good books, you’ll enlighten your perspective and gain wisdom over time. I recommend this mix in your mind diet: 25 percent media, 50 percent books, and the remaining 25 percent social and workstream (offline and online).
Books, by their nature, offer a depth of knowledge and completeness of ideas that can build you up, especially if you are reading the right ones.

Blogs, Twitter, newspapers, and magazines have their place, but good books offer depth and insight you won’t find anywhere else.

Read Challenging Books

Some books, they say, should have been an article. Some articles should have been a tweet. And some tweets should remain unshared.

Look for the books with substance, and read those. Don’t ignore the easier books, but find some that stretch you, and savor theme. Allow them to stretch and challenge you.

Read Different Kinds of Books

Different kinds of books do different things. Read practical books, theological books, historical books, and philosophical books. Read biographies and memoirs. Read literary fiction and summer cliffhangers.

I joined a book club, and it’s forcing me to read books I would never have found on my own. I’m discovering the joy of reading fiction before I go to bed.

We also need older and newer books. Older books help to identify the blind spots of our age.

Read With Intention

Tony Reinke says that for every book you read, you must ignore ten thousand others, simply because you don’t have the time or money. It makes sense to set priorities in our reading, so that we’re reading what’s most helpful and enjoyable.

“Plan to the extent that feels right to you at a particular time in your life,” writes Steve Leveen in The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life, “but always be open to serendipity.”

Share Books

Don’t hoard your books; share them with others. Recommend them and gift them to others.

I know pastors and CEOs who include book giveaways in their budget. Books can begin to shape the culture of a group or church.

We’re blessed to have so many books, but they’re also a responsibility. Let’s steward these books well so that we enjoy them, grow by reading them, and bless others.

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How to Use Books Well
Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada