How long has it been since you have read a book cover to cover? If you do not particularly enjoy reading you may find that it has been quite some time; perhaps even measured in decades. There may even be a small shelf of books in your home that you intended to read, started, but never finished. How can you make 2012 the year you finish a book? The key here is pace.
Because I have yet to publish a book I do not know the ins and outs of marketing them, but I have noticed that 90% of the non-fiction books on the shelves are 220-240 pages in length. I do not know what this means for authors and publishers, but I do know what it means for readers. If you average 30 – 40 pages a day, this equates to a book a week.
If you have not historically been a reader, 30-40 pages a day may seem like a daunting task. It is true that the more you read the better reader you will become. If 30-40 pages is too much for you right now, shoot for 20. At 20 pages a day you will read a book every two weeks. This is two books a month, which means in 2012 it may not be that you finish 1 book for the year, but 24 of them.
Things happen. It is at the point of things happening that most of our resolutions are flushed. We diet well until there is birthday cake. We put money into savings until an unforeseen repair frustrates our budget. We read our 20, 30, or 40 pages a day until another show as awesome as LOST enters our life, or little Johnny starts baseball, or for whatever reason things get busy. How do we keep pace when things happen?
I say to our church often, “You will do what you want to do.” There is an old proverb that illustrates the often flighty nature of Baptist commitment that says, “It takes a tub full of water to get a Baptist in, but a drop to get them out.” For a people so closely associated with water it is amazing how attendance will drop on a rainy Sunday morning. Yet the University of Alabama could be playing West Chickasaw in the middle of a category 5 hurricane and there will be 105,000 people in the stands determined not to miss a play. You will do what you want to do. This is why I enacted what I called “The Wal-Mart Policy” when I served as pastor in Crossville, TN. On a snowy Sunday morning my phone would begin ringing early, “Pastor, we need to cancel services, it’s just too dangerous for anyone to be out.” So I would. But later in the morning my wife and I, bored out of our minds, would travel to the amusement park of Crossville, TN, Wal-Mart. There we would find half the church, many of whom had called me that very morning telling me it was too dangerous for them to drive to church. You will do what you want to do.
Do you want to read books? The question then is not what are you going to do, but what are you NOT going to do? As a pastor I am amazed at how much we desire to add virtuous things to our lives without forsaking things that seem to make us stumble. We like to add. We do not like to take away. If you are going to add reading books in 2012 you must subtract something out of your daily schedule, the 30 – 40 minutes a day that it will take you to keep your pace. I will offer you this advice right out of the gate. People who read well watch less television. If you are going to read there is less you need to watch. If family activities are a hindrance, practice, homework, insanity, then try to identify those moments when you can fit in some reading. I promise you that if you think hard about your family schedule you can find those moments. Wake up 30 minutes earlier, before anyone else is out of the bed. I do my best reading and writing early in the morning. While your child is at practice, instead of staring aimlessly at the field, read. I have a book nearby almost everywhere I go. With the plethora of e-readers on the market as well as smart phone technology you can carry a library with you at all times. I will offer a response to a book entitled The Swerve next week. I read about 50 pages of it in the parking lot of the mall while Shannon was Christmas shopping. You will do what you want to do.
I hope this is the year that you want to read. Not to read only one book, but lots of them. I usually read fully 35 books a year. Keep a list. Watch it grow. At the end of the year share your top ten. Everyone else does. Make 2012 the year you read.