Last year I fell short again of my goal of reading 50 books in a year.
It’s a lofty goal I have reached only a few times, but one that stretches me, which is a good thing. One of the reasons I fell short last year was I spent entirely too much time reading the news. I sometimes spent an hour consuming the news on my iPhone before I got out of bed in the morning.
Sure, some of that reading was focused on COVID-19 and the pandemic, which was useful in my job, but much of my reading was also about current events, and sometimes about celebrities, the Kardashians included.
And here’s the thing, when I finished reading the news, I never felt I had accomplished anything of any importance. I was up-to-date on the events of the day, but the next day there would be a new set of events, and I would repeat the process, taking the click bait of interesting and usually misleading headlines, and gleaning facts of no particular usefulness.
1. The Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton. G.K. Chesterton is the greatest writer you’ve never heard of, and if you have never read him you cannot imagine what you are missing. Tagged “The Prince of Paradox,” Chesterton has a way of turning a sentence back on itself while clearly expressing a thought you never thought and you never would have thought to write. Chesterton is at his best in this book, which C.S. Lewis called the best apologetic he had read and which influenced Lewis’s conversion.
2. Beyond Bullet Points, Cliff Atkinson. What, might you ask, does a book about Powerpoint have to do with the kingdom of God? Well, it has to do with work—my work as an attorney—and work has everything to do with the kingdom of God. This book swims against tide, arguing that text on a slide does not a powerful presentation make. In fact, Atkinson argues that text actually divides the reader’s attention between the speaker and the slide, making the communication less effective. His suggested solution is worth the price of the book.
3. The Destruction of Jerusalem, George Holford. Written in 1809 by a British lawyer and member of parliament. This book shows how Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem was fully realized in 70 A.D. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is one of the most important historical events for Jews and Christians alike. For Jews it marked the end of the Jewish sacrificial system; for Christians it marked the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 and puts much of what many Christians worry about as a future event firmly in the past.
As I’ve mentioned here before, one of the secrets to reading faster is to read multiple books at the same time.
When you are not in the mood to continue reading one you pick up where you left off on another.
Reading multiple books at one time also challenges me to read on more subjects simultaneously.
It is the difference between eating a steak or eating a dinner that includes all the major food groups.
As you can see from the list below, my major food groups currently include leadership, legal (my job), theology, writing, history, and self-improvement. That’s a pretty well-rounded meal.
Cross-Examination: Science and Technique, Larry Posner & Roger Dodd. If you are a trial attorney, this is a must read. This the best book on cross-examination I’ve ever read. This is my second time to read it. If you are not a lawyer, never mind.
The Elements of Eloquence, Mark Forsyth. This is a very well-written book about writing well, and if you read the book you will understand why what I just wrote is very funny.