I love to read. I love to learn. For me, a perfect vacation is sitting at the edge of a body of water (preferably on a tropical, Pacific island) reading books hour after hour. Fortunately, Julie loves to read, too, so she’s at my side in this dream vacation! I read a total of 56 books in 2017 and I’ve done a brief analysis of what that list looks like. From that, I’ve developed some initial thoughts about what I plan to read in 2018.
I don’t have a sophisticated categorization system for my books. My categories are broad and utilitarian. Here are the categories and quantity of books I read in 2017.
- The Bible—6
- Christian Living—23
- The Church—2
Some notes about that list:
The Bible is exactly that, but I didn’t read the Bible six times, nor did I read 6 Bibles. What I read is the ESV Reader’s Bible 6-volume set. I counted each of the volumes as one book, because each volume is comparable in size and length to a standard trade publication. (By the way, I highly recommend the ESV Reader’s Bible. Click on that link to learn more about what a reader’s Bible is.)
I read only eight titles in Biography and History this year. That’s a bit of a surprise for me because these are among my favorite titles. I am currently in the process of reading two books in that category, so I’ll start off 2018 with two completed books pretty soon.
Christian Living is a very broad category from which many subcategories could be devised. Along with traditional Christian Living, I included biblical counseling and evangelism, as well as special topics like domestic abuse, sex, and money. This is an incredibly diverse category of publishing and there is no end of interesting titles to read.
Lifestyle was a smattering of books that included household organizing, life planning, how we form habits, and career coaching. This is sort of a catch all category for books that don’t fit elsewhere.
The Church consisted of two books about the modern Christian church and its work in the world today while Theology was a group of books including systematic theology, apologetics, Christian worldview, and a couple others.
Here is one of my big takeaways for my 2017 reading. It’s a bit of a surprise that I read only three books from the Leadership category. After all, the core of my profession is leadership coaching and consulting. On the other hand, it’s not too surprising that I didn’t read more in that category. For several years past, the balance would be flipped the other way—mostly leadership books and a few others. I’m finding that there is very little that is new in this genre and the real growth area for me personally is to understand other aspects of life and to look at them first through a biblical lens and second through the leadership lens.
Another thing to note about my reading list in 2017 is that most of those books are from the “unread” stacks of books in my office. I have many titles that have been given to me, purchased at conferences, or acquired as part of my work as a university professor. It’s been a goal for a couple years to work my way through all those books before investing significant sums in new books.
So what about 2018?
I still have a lot of interesting books in my unread stacks. At the rate of 50-plus books per year, I could go another two or three years working through those.
However, I also sense a call to be more strategic with my reading plan in 2018. I have some significant goals for the next few years (more on that in the future) and it seems foolish to read what happens to be lying around my office. It might be better to purge them from my “system” by taking them to Goodwill and Half Price Books (a retailer that buys and sells used books) so that I can instead be very intentional about what I acquire and read in 2018.
I find I learn more when I read with purpose. Reading for pleasure is good, but when my reading pleasure has a purpose, there is great power in the learning and growth.
When my 2018 reading plan has more structure, I’ll share it with you. What about you? How do you choose what to read? Do you have a learning goal? Do you have a goal for book quantity, or pages, or time? Having some purpose in your goal will make a difference.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.