You’ve maybe heard the statistics.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college. For Universities, which are entirely based around the idea of learning, the fact that they fail to make life-long learners after graduation is quite the fail. Perhaps more startling though is the statistics that, 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
Long story short, very few people read books.
I supposed I can understand this. I remember the rage I felt when I was given assigned reading in high school. Looking back now, though, it was more of a rebellious attitude and a frustration with the idea that they were making me read, and even selecting my books for me. It’s not that I didn’t like learning, I was just bored with what they were telling me I had to do. I supposed this was the case for many people in school. After graduating college, I finally felt liberated from the mandate of required reading, and I had no interest in picking up a book. But two things happened fairly close together that really changed my heart.
- God began convicting me
First, God began convicting me about how I spent my “unwind” time. My normal routine after a workday would be to crash on my couch watching TV with my wife, or playing video games by myself. Both these things are fine, they aren’t destructive at a normal dosage. But this downtime, wasn’t edifying or building me up at all and God began to illuminate this wasteful habit in my life. I began to ask the Lord to change my heart so that my natural “unwind” time would be something that also grew me. After all, If you don’t genuinely desire to do something, you will only get so far by sheer force of will. God slowly began to answer the prayer and grow my passion for learning.
2. A friend challenged me
In the midst of this conviction, I met a retired man from the church I worked at who could not have a conversation without bringing up books. This man, Bill, helped out at the church a lot and so multiple times a week he would pop in my office to visit and he would inevitably start spewing forth something he was learning from one of the books he was currently reading. This sounds like it might be an intrusion into productivity for most people, but I think the Holy Spirit was weaving this into my life because everything he brought up was actually rather compelling. After a few months of learning through his regurgitations, I decided to give reading another try. And being competitive, I soon challenged Bill to see who could read more books. The problem was that Bill was retired and pretty much all he did was read and watch Fox News. My solution? Choose smaller books and starting using Audible! In a few years I worked way up and started winning in yearly book count, but I was far from winning in page count.
Since 2011 I have read 52 or more books a year, and it has drastically benefited my life. (OK, in 2013 I only got 37 but that was the year I Graduated with my Master’s and I wanted to take a little break.) You may have heard this quote from John Wooden, “Five years from now you’re the same person except the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” If that’s true I want to make sure I’m taking every opportunity I can to stretch my mind and grow my potential. My honest prayer is that you would do the same, and find the same fondness of reading that I have.
Next week I’ll be sure to post some practical tips about how to read more.
What’s the last book you’ve read? How much do you read a year?
*I’ve kept track of all the books I’ve read and you can check it out here if you’re interested. I’ve rated and categorized many of them, and you might find it helpful when choosing a book for yourself.
*Statistics about American Reading habits found here.