I read a silly amount of books every week/month/year, and I’ve realized something:
The ones I enjoy the most are the ones with discussion questions.
Recently my men’s small group has been working our way through The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard (it’s a great book, by the way), and one of the most helpful things about it—even more than the content itself—is the discussion questions and application activities.
It’s really easy to read a book (or scan it in some cases) and say, “Yep, I’ve got it. Next!” Especially for me.
I read very quickly, I retain a lot… but if I don’t dwell on the content, it just sits in my head and doesn’t affect my life.
I find that I have to make the time for application. Discussion questions force me to do that, to dwell on the content and chew on its implications.
Now, there are some things that don’t require discussion guides, obviously. If you’re reading Amish Vampire Romance End-Times books, for example—okay, that might require some discussion (but not of the book itself).
I also appreciate how Francis Chan periodically writes, “Okay, stop reading this book, go watch this video here, read this passage of Scripture and look at what it says about XYZ.” That’s smart; it pushes the reader to interact with the text and not just let it wash over him or her.
So what do you do with a book that doesn’t have any questions?
Ask your own!
As a general rule, I have a few questions for every book I read:
- What is the main idea the author is trying to convey?
- How does the author support his/her idea(s)? Scripture, tradition, history, illustrations from real life examples…
- Do I agree with the author’s main idea? Why or why not? And can I support my position with appropriate Scripture? (Questions two and three are essential for anything labeled “Christian Living,” “Spiritual Growth,” or “Theology,” I’ve found.)
- If these ideas are true, what is one practical way I can apply this truth today?
A great book is one that doesn’t just challenge the way you think, but challenges you to think.
Ask questions. Enjoy discussion.
And think about what you’re reading.