January is soon upon us, with its empty calendar blocks and fresh new beginnings. I'm not one to make resolutions, but I do tend to make reading lists. Not that I finish them, ever. I generally get side-tracked by the latest must read, which leads me to even more books I didn't plan to read. Still, I am ever hopeful that a list will keep me focused.
I thought about joining Tim Challies' 2016 Reading Challenge, but I realized I'd only be tempted to buy more books to cram onto my overflowing bookshelves. Which caused me to look at those shelves and cringe at the number of unread books there. Which in turn caused me to think about the place reading has - or should have - in my life. How many books can I realistically read well? What do I need/want to learn? Exactly why do I have so many books I haven't read? And, most importantly, how can my reading be edifying not only to me, but also to others? As I pondered these questions, I also thought about four areas of my life that need the most improvement, the things I want to dwell upon and do well. I started pulling books and before I knew it, I had a reading plan made complete with the addition of just three books from my monumental Amazon wishlist.
My list is a response to Kim's excellent post about digging deep in our reading in 2016. I plan to spend each quarter of the year immersed in single topic. I've chosen 3 - 4 books for each quarter, to give a steady pace that allows for deep thinking. Inspired by this article, I'll also be reading and re-reading one book of the Bible each quarter. I want to contemplate the truths I discover and apply them to my life. I'm hoping that my reading will provide food for thought to write about here and on my own blog. I would also love to have some discussion with you, reader, about what I'm reading. Think of it as an informal book club. If you'd like to read along, I'll be reading and writing about the following books (in order):
January - March: Loving Others/Gospel Living (Bible Reading: 1 - 3 John)
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands (Tripp)
Love in Hard Places (Carson)
Counsel from the Cross (Fitzpatrick)
Stop Loving the World (Greenhill)
BONUS: A Quest for Godliness (Packer)
April - June: Grace (Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes)
Anchored in Grace: Fixed Points for Humble Faith (Walker)
By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me (Ferguson)
The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel (Boice & Ryken)
BONUS: From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel (Hoover)
July - September: The Gospel (Bible Reading: Galatians)
What Is the Gospel? (Gilbert)
A Gospel Primer for Christians (Vincent)
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Dever)
How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Thomas)
October - December: Prayer (Bible Reading: The Psalms)
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Keller)
You Can Pray: Finding Grace to Pray Every Day (Chester)
Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer (Beeke & Najapfour)
Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Carson)
I also pulled these unread biographies from my shelves:
Amy Carmichael: Beauty For Ashes
John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology
John Knox and the Reformation
George Whitefield: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought
The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards
Spurgeon: A New Biography
Since there are 6, I decided to alternate them with 6 as-yet-undetermined fiction books from my local library. Narrowing my "other" books to 12 should help me keep my focus on my goal of reading well. If I read the bonus selections, I'll read a total of 29 books during the upcoming year. That may be ambitious for some, and not nearly ambitious enough for others. Looking ahead to what I expect 2016 will hold - with my girl graduating from high school and flying the nest - I know this is the perfect number for me.
Finally, I've committed that 2016 will be the year I finally read through the entire Bible. I'll be listening to the ESV M'Cheyne Reading Plan podcast by Crossway. So I won't technically be reading through the Bible, but I'll be listening through it and redeeming the time on my drive to work each morning. I'll close each day with Carson's For the Love of God (Volume 1) to reinforce my listening.
What about you? Do you have reading plans for next year? We'd love to know! Whether you choose to read 2 books or 102, read through the Bible or just portions of it, stick to non-fiction or novels or a mix of both, may 2016 find us all reading well and for the glory of the Lord.
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