I probably spend too much time considering my reading habits, but what’s a guy to do?
Every year, I give myself a challenge to read 100 books in the year (one I usually meet well before the year ends). A lot are books on theology and Christian living for reviews—but as much as possible, I try to include some material to break it up with a few biographies, a bit of history, some fiction, some marketing books, and the odd bit of sociology. Because I live increasingly in a Christian bubble—I work with Christians, I minister to Christians in a variety of ways, I primarily review books written for Christians—this is not only helpful, but necessary for me in order to have some sense of what’s going on “out there” as it were.
If you’re like me, you should probably think about doing the same. Here are three reasons why:
1. Escaping the “Bubble.” As I pointed out above, it’s really easy for Christians to get caught in the so-called Christian bubble (in fact, studies indicate that the longer we’re Christians the less likely we are to have non-Christian friends). Reading more broadly keeps our minds sharp and allows us to understand something of the world outside of the Christian subculture.
2. Opportunities to Engage Others in Meaningful Discussion.Now, obviously, there are certain books we shouldn’t read (such as anything including 50 Shades in the title). Books that profit no one except those looking to make a profit are worth no one’s time. That said, reading more broadly allows you to have another connection point with non-Christians that helps you to have meaningful discussions (whether at work, the gym, traditional or online book clubs or Starbucks) that can also lead to opportunities to share the gospel.
3. Enjoying God’s Common Grace. God has not reserved all the “good” ideas for Christian authors. Indeed, in His common grace, He has allowed many non-Christians to have amazing insights into the human condition, given them tremendous literary gifts and fantastic storytelling abilities. If you’re not reading a little more broadly, you might be missing out on something really interesting.
These are a few of the reasons I enjoy reading more broadly. Now it’s your turn: what are your reading habits like—how do you keep yourself from getting stuck in reading only one kind of book?
Updated June 2014