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Friday, January 26, 2018

Four Healthy Reading Habits to Develop in 2018



Today I'm here to talk a little bit about READING. Typically when I discuss this subject it's in the context of a book review or a list of book recommendations, but this post is different. TIME TO MIX THINGS UP. Instead of discussing any specific books, we're discussing reading in general. 

Most dedicate little time to reading because our society is image-driven. Our culture likes to SEE things. Evidencing this, YouTube, Netlifx, Pinterest, and other image-based sites grow in their increasingly massive popularity. A simple Google search informed me that many adult Americans don't even read a single book a year.


These aspects of our culture spring a trap for unsuspecting bookworms. The trap shifts our focus from what we read to the fact that we're still reading. Kudos to us! After all, somebody has to keep the publishing industry alive, right? It becomes easy to lose focus of the actual books we're reading. It becomes easy to fall prey to the idea that what we read doesn't matter--just so long as we read.


But what we read does matter. The books we select shape our thinking by putting ideas into our heads. This effect can yield positive or negative results, depending on what you read. The right books can lodge truth inside your mind; the wrong ones can lodge error. So it's clear we shouldn't base our reading selection solely off appealing covers and intriguing synopses. How do we figure out which books are worth our time, and which ones aren't?


It's not a black-and-white issue. All of us have different standards, different tastes, different opinions. The point of this post isn't to tell you what you can and cannot read. Instead, it's to share a few healthy reading habits I've learned. Hopefully, by developing these habits, each of us will be less likely to waste our time on a book.



THE #1 MOST IMPORTANT THING TO GET FROM THIS POST: READ MORE OF THE BIBLE. Why is this so important? I already touched on that in the introduction. Books help to shape us--so doesn't it make sense that we should consistently read God's Word? The more we read it, the more it shapes us, and the more godly we become.


The Bible should hold more importance in your life than any other book. PERIOD. If you grab hold of this devotion to God's Word, SO MANY other things in your life will fall into place.


God doesn't tell us to read the Bible because He needs us to. As fallen human beings, we're the ones that desperately need the truth of God's Word. God tells us to read it because He knows what it can do for us. He knows it has the power to convict us of sin, illuminate truth, sanctify us, and ultimately change our lives.


The best reading habit (possibly the best LIFE habit) is adding more of the Bible into your reading diet. Resolve to read it. Resolve to study it. Resolve to apply it. 

If you're a student of any sort, you're probably used to school-assigned reading. To you, this point might seem PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. Yet it's still worth reiterating.


Developing this habit relates not only to school reading, but to ANY kind of reading. The idea isn't that you learn from reading when you're required to; it's that you strive to learn from EVERY BOOK YOU READ. When you're reading a book, no matter what genre, think: What can I get out of this? If you can't come up with any answers to that question, it might be wise to consider if the book is worth your time.


Reading isn't only about entertainment. Both fiction and nonfiction hold myriads of facts, tips, life hacks, ideas, warnings, lessons, and insights. Try and catch some of those! How does that story portray WW2 industry? Is the technology in that sci-fi novel feasible according to current scientific knowledge? When that essay expounds on the health value of coconut oil, what specific evidence does it site? Is its argument convincing?


Developing this habit doesn't necessarily mean you never, ever read for entertainment. Instead, it's a tool that helps you filter out books which aren't worth your time. So if you're going to read, APPLY YOURSELF. Focus on what you're reading. And think: What can I get out of this?

Again, maybe this seems like an obvious point to you. Still, due to its importance, it definitely deserves some screen time in a post about healthy reading habits. The choice to develop this habit hinges on the assumption that every author has a message. The medium by which he spreads his message is his writing. This isn't limited to any one genre--it spans across every written work. Even when writing in a very casual style and mode (kinda like me right now), it's safe to assume that a writer has a purpose in writing.


So that leaves us (as readers and as Christians) with some work to do! It's our job to carefully analyze what we read according to the standard of God's Word. We need to compare the messages in the media we digest with the truth of the Bible. In order to do that, we need to fully engage our brains while we read, and we need to consistently study God's Word so we know what it teaches.


The easy part about exercising discernment is that it's a lot like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. But this truth doesn't mean you habitually and intentionally expose yourself to unbiblical ideology in an attempt to "strengthen your discernment." Instead, it means that when you are exposed to unbiblical ideology through media (and you will be), you're better prepared to identify why said ideology is unbiblical. This gives you a better grasp on your own beliefs and on biblical truth.

Each of us have our "pet genres"--the ones we really, really like. It might be historical fiction. It might be nonfiction. It might be Young Adult. These "pet genres" are where we turn when we're looking for a good book. Nothing wrong with that! Naturally, we're more confident we'll find a book we love in a genre we've tried and tested.


BUT. A problem rises when we let our favorite genres define our reading limits. A fantasy book every now and then is okay. An occasional romance novel is okay. (Although why would anyone want to put themselves through a romance novel...? JUST SAYIN.) However, if you read EXCLUSIVELY fantasy you might get too caught up in things that aren't real. If you read EXCLUSIVELY romance, you might end up with the wrong perception of what a biblical relationship looks like.


A healthy reading diet consists of a variety of genres. Stay balanced, and be adventurous! Don't let a "pet genre" of sci-fi keep you from venturing into the realm of nonfiction. Even if you don't necessarily LOVE every single book you read, part of growing into a disciplined adult is reading things you don't always enjoy.


When considering these habits (and others like these), it's crucial to understand that habits are developed. They don't happen overnight. Time, energy, motivation, and discipline must be added to the equation before they can be made reality.


So if you don't always have good habits, don't stress about changing them in the next three days. It took you time to form those bad habits--it takes time to form the good ones. Focus on small steps, small changes, small mental shifts, and by the end of 2018, you might just have some new habits!


OK NOW TALK TO ME. :D Which of these are already habits for you? Any of them you'd like to try and work on in 2018?



22 comments:

  1. YES!! This is so true! I've definitely had to look at my reading habits (seeing as that makes up most of my homework) but this is a great reminder.

    I know I absolutely need to improve my Bible-reading habits, but that's improving. This was convicting, and that's good. I need those reminders!

    I'm doing pretty well on the other three, but I can improve my reading selection. *looks at all the fantasy books on my shelf* When I have time, I need to read more non-fiction.

    Thanks for a great post - and wonderful reminder!

    Brianna | noendofbooks.blogspot.com

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    1. Glad you agree! Improved Bible-reading habits are ALWAYS a good thing. I'm working on that also. When I sit down to read my Bible, I normally read it for a decent chunk of time--the thing is that I need to be more consistent.

      Even if you're used to reading fiction, you can find a lot of SUPER interesting nonfiction that reads a lot like fiction. It's a great way to introduce yourself/someone else to the genre. :D

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  2. I only have one thing to say at this moment: AMEN, BROTHER! (To all of your points. SO SO TRUE.) I found myself nodding and "mmhming" to everything. This stuff is totally legit! *two thumbs up*

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  3. Great post! Have you heard of #rebelliouswriting? It's a blogging community I recently joined that talks about things like this, promoting the desire to think about what we read and write, specifically in the YA genre. The blog is: http://www.rebelliouswriting.com/p/blog-page.html

    We are always looking for guest posts! You should totally submit this article :D

    Anyways, back to the post. I so agree with romance... like a complete waste of time. And there are so few talented fantasy authors anymore. I love history... but most current historical fiction is like so painful to read. And science fiction is weird. lol... I love books in all these genres, this is just what I think of them overall.

    Your first point is spot on! Bible first, and let that influence everything else we read, and why we read.


    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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    1. I have, actually! I'm not super involved but I DO stalk the blog on occasion. (If I remember correctly you're gonna be in charge of the YouTube? In which case GO YOU. XD That's a lot to handle!)

      RIGHT? Romance is definitely not my favorite genre, haha. I don't mind if a book has some romance in it but to read a book that's SOLELY about romance? HOW ABOUT NOT.

      Mmm yes I definitely agree with you on historical fiction. I still LOVE it, but I'm very careful when selecting his fic books to read because I think they can sometimes be more mature. Still, I'm okay with some mature elements if they're necessary to accurately represent history.

      Exactly! The Bible should take priority. *nods*

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    2. Yes, I am! I'm still not sure all what I'm supposed to do, but it shall be fun ;D

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  4. READ MORE OF THE BIBLE = Yup, doing pretty okay with that. Though I do need some work, as I only read a couple of chapters a day ... and I need to buy one of those art-ing Bibles, because I REALLY like doodling in mine and YET the MARGINS. ARE. SO. SMALL.

    READ TO LEARN = *goes and hides in a small dark hole* *whispers* unless you count assigned school reading ... nope xD.

    READ WITH DISCERNMENT = the minute you started talking about theme and God's Word my brain went WINGFEATHER SAGA (I can't with that series <3). But seriously, this is an awesome tip, I need to start doing this more often.

    READ WIDELY = YUP. I just read whatever I'm in the mood for. I've definitely got "pet genres", but mostly I'll read ANYTHING if I'm in the mood for it, haha.

    ANYWAYS that was a very long ramble from me. But this post was great, Jon! Thanks for sharing it, it definitely got me thinking.

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

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    1. LOL I FEEL YOU. The margins in my Bible are TINY. Not that I want an artsy Bible (hahaha... nope), but I do like to take notes in the margins, and it's hard when I have BARELY ANY SPACE. XD

      Assigned school reading is good too though!! That's a FANTASTIC place to start.

      Yess The Wingfeather Saga is awesome! Still, even for Christian series like that one, discernment is ABSOLUTELY necessary. *nods*

      I'M THE SAME WAY. *high fives* I'll read just about anything as long as it's clean and doesn't blatantly go against my beliefs.

      I like long rambles--everyone tends to share some really great thoughts! :D

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  5. Great post! One of my goals for this year is to read my Bible at least three times a week, and so far I'm doing it;)). I also would like to read more "read to learn" books, as I'm mainly just reading fiction this past month. I started "Cold Case Christianity" (which is amazing, btw) and I also would like to read the Lee Strobel books.
    Reading with discernment--yes. This is so important, especially since 89% of the books in my library's YA section are *ahem* interesting.
    Great post! :))

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    1. GOOD GOAL. Even if you're not used to reading your Bible super consistently, a solid goal like that one is definitely the place to start!
      Ahh I've tried to get "Cold Case" Christianity from my library but I haven't had any luck yet. D: Lee Strobel is great though! I've read a few of his books.
      Thanks!

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  6. Yes! Sadly, I need to work on most of these habits. But I am happy with my Bible reading habits so far this year (one of my resolutions, because I was not doing so well last year).

    My biggest problem is time, so I barely get enough reading in as it is. BUT I'm definitely hoping to read more widely this year. And I love what you said about reading to learn, and how it'll help determine if the book is worth your time.

    Thanks for this reminder!
    ~ riley aline

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    1. Good! I'm glad you Bible reading habits are improving--that's definitely the most important habit to solidify.

      UGH FOR REAL THOUGH. I RELATE. I used to have so much more time to read. D: The good news is I can still read a lot because I spend A LOT of time riding in the car. Good luck with your goals this year!

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  7. These are great! #1 in particular is something I'm working on this year, after not doing so well last year. :P

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    1. Thanks! That one's always a good thing to be working on. :D

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  8. By the way, I nominated/tagged you for the Liebster Award on my blog, and the post just went up!

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  9. When I talk to people who don't like to read, it always surprises me, as I LOVE reading. But I've been realizing lately how easy it is to get out of the habit of reading, especially when you've been in front of screens instead. Which is sad, as I can tell I'm a lot healthier (mentally) when I've been reading.
    To be honest, I went into this post a bit skeptical, sort-of expecting to feel attacked, like I've felt reading similar posts. But I actually loved this, and I agree with everything you said. It's also making me feel better about the fact that I don't read fantasy very often, even though it's my favorite genre!
    What you said about the Bible though. . . ! Yes!! I just wrote my own blog post about reading Scripture. I've been doing "daily devotions" for a long time, just because I felt like I needed to. I only noticed recently how much they really effect me.

    -Hanna
    takingmytime.rothfuss.us

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    1. SAME. Because how can anyone not enjoy reading? I TOTALLY understand getting out of the habit of reading consistently, though--and I definitely agree that screen time can contribute to that.
      Well glad you liked it and agreed with the points!
      COOL. *fist bump* I should do a blog post entirely devoted to reading Scripture, also! It's definitely an important topic.

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  10. Hey, you redid things around here. It looks really nice.

    These are great habits. I like how you don't shy away from the fact that God's Word is above all other books in the world. I think a lot of Christian bloggers (me being guilty of this sometimes) shy away from faith to be relatable to a larger audience. I guess what I'm trying to say through this rambling is it's important we don't neglect our faith in order to become relatable. We were meant to show the world the Truth.

    All these habits are super helpful and make me want to read more. XD I think discernment is a habit I try to keep with me whenever I read because so many YA books have so much smut inside that I almost feel it isn't YA anymore.

    Apparently girls are supposed to really love romance books, but I guess I didn't get the memo on that one. XD

    Great post!

    ~Ivie|Ivie Writes

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    1. Thanks! I actually had a friend do most of it for me, but you'll see more about that in my next post. :D

      Amen! I totally agree with that. It's important to put truth BEFORE popularity or a "broader appeal" or any similar idea.

      GOOD. Reading more is definitely a GOOD THING. XD

      Haha actually I know lots of girls who don't like romance books, so you're not alone!

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  11. (Although why would anyone want to put themselves through a romance novel...? JUST SAYIN.) <-- quality content I subscribed for! xD

    Anyways, jokes aside, I really appreciate how your posts can make a person think. Discernment is really important. I mean we often see on social media about how we shouldn't preach to our readers, bla, bla, bla... but I think there's always this subtle sort of preaching with novels. Like how some authors point out how strange a person is because of their Christian beliefs through the voice of their characters and also by how that character is treated by other characters.

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