23 Tips from 23 years of Book Reading


Video from Desiring God


"I’m honored to be here at Colorado Christian University this morning. The purpose of my talk is to share 23 lessons about reading I have learned from 23 years of reading nonfiction books. Some of these lessons will be new to you. Most of them won’t be. And they’re all in the book I mentioned, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books.

Well, the distinguished biographer David McCullough once recounted the following story from the early life of Theodore Roosevelt:

Once upon a time in the dead of winter in the Dakota Territory, Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat down the Little Missouri River in pursuit of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized rowboat. After several days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester [rifle], at which point they surrendered. Then Roosevelt set off in a borrowed wagon to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. They headed across the snow-covered wastes of the Badlands to the railhead at Dickinson [North Dakota], and Roosevelt walked the whole way, the entire forty miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in Roosevelt’s eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina [Leo Tolstoy’s 900-page novel]. I often think of that when I hear people say they haven’t time to read.1

We haven’t time to read 900-page novels, much less 200-page nonfiction. Partly we can trace this back to a moment when Roosevelt was fourteen years old, when Samuel Morse, of Morse Code fame, sent the first telegraph message from D.C. to Baltimore in the spring of 1844. His message was a biblical exclamation: “What hath God wrought!” (Numbers 23:23).

Well, we know what the telegraph wrought: a new opportunity to shrink data down into fragments, sentences, and phrases. The telegraph became the private text message, which became the public tweet..." from transcript.


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