I conducted a life experiment in 2011. Knowing that my brain wanders to new ideas without an intentional plan, I created an aggressive reading plan with intent of only reading those books.
Toward the end of 2010, I asked myself, "What books do I want to read before I die?"
I started to list the books and I realized that I would not make any significant progress with the list if I did not create a plan. I recognized that if I did not "tell my reading time where to go" then I would end up with a stack of partially read books. A majority of those books would be ones that caught my attention on any given day.
Here was the plan:
- Find a list of recommended reading from authors, teachers, pastors, leaders that I respect
- Create a set of categories
- Create an initial list for the first year with books from the different categories ("balanced diet of reading")
- Categories: Leadership, Theology, Spiritual Formation, Relationships (Marriage, Parenting), Preaching, Engaging Culture, Church History, Biographies and Fiction
- Create a schedule that would allow for me to only read those books.
- Commit to reading according to the schedule and ONLY pick up another book IF I was ahead of schedule
- Commit to reminding myself that I will not achieve my goal of reading the "before I die" list of books if I pick up other books that randomly catch my attention
I went to work in 2011. I stayed with the plan for 75% of the year.
Below are the books that I read in 2011 in this order with the authors and categories...
2011 Reading Plan Books:
- Strengthsfinders 2.0 by Tom Rath [Leadership]
- Strength-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie [Leadership]
- 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan [Relationships - Parenting]
- A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther [Spiritual Formation]
- The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen [Spiritual Formation]
- Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend [Relationships]
- Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp [Relationships - Parenting]
- Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI [Theology]
- Leadership and Self-Deception by Arbinger Institute [Leadership]
- Faith and Justification by G.C. Berkouwer [Theology]
- Pensees by Blaise Pascal [Church History]
- Between Two Worlds by John Stott [Preaching]
- Covenant Marriage by Gary Chapman [Relationships - Marriage]
- The Descent of the Dove by Charles Williams [Church History]
- Bradshaw On: The Family by John Bradshaw [Relationships]
- The Pastor by Eugene Peterson [Leadership]
- To Be Told by Dan Allender [Spiritual Formation] - Story Workshop
- Primal by Mark Batterson [Spiritual Formation] - NHPC class
- Epic by John Eldredge [Spiritual Formation]
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell [Engaging Culture]
- Lifetime Guarantee by Bill Gillham [Theology] - NHPC class
- Walking With God by John Eldredge [Spiritual Formation] - MAN-era study
- Breaking the Idols of Your Heart by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III [Spiritual Formation] - MAN-era study
I did not stay with the plan after mid-September. I am re-committing to this approach in 2012.
What approaches do you use to focus your reading?
Do you know what books that you would like to read before you die?
Are you reading them now?