Hmm, this is a quote that I cut and paste a while ago and wanted to write about it but when I went back to it I realised that I did not record where it came from. But I think it is a quote from C.H. Spurgeon:

“Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them, masticate and digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes if hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be “much, not many.”

This is certainly great advice and I think I need to repent and search my heart concerning the idolatory of my reading list. But I do think that there are two ways to read and both of them have their own benefits.

Firstly I do think it is helpful to read (as) many (as you can) books straight through maybe making some margin notes (if it is your book!) as you go along but not really trying to digest it all but rather trying to get a good feel for the general idea of what the author is saying. That will help you to stay in touch with what people are reading and what the “new and innovative” new ideas are.

Secondly, and here is where I need to work harder, some books need to be read slower, more than once, and deliberately so. What I am now trying to do is target some books that I think are worth reading once straight through – getting the feel for the entire book and then going back slower and more deliberately, maybe a chapter at a time, working it over, meditating, taking notes, blogging about it, owning the thoughts.

I have decided to do this with Total Church, as I am sure that it is a book which will have a big impact on my ministry and I want to make sure I have understood and thought through all that is being said. I plan to read it 3 times – once straight through, once chapter by chapter – blogging and thinking it through as I go, and a third time with my wife, talking it over and discussing it with her.


~ by John on July 4, 2008.

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