Last week Megan Allen posted an article called “Professional Creep: How Work Can Take Over Your Life (and Your Book List)” in which she tells the story of how she was preparing to bring books on grant writing on a vacation. She laments that she has failed to maintain the same joy and wonder that she had as a kid with a bag full of books.
Several years ago I could relate. I was in seminary, working full-time, and a part-time graduate assistant, and my wife and I had three children under the age of four. It was incredibly difficult to make time to read (for more on this topic read last week’s Musing “Fighting for Time to Read”), but when I did I was reading deep theological and philosophical books on hermeneutics, Old Testament studies, and more. Even my “leisure reading” was related to my (then future) career in education. I realized a staleness in my life that came from increasing in knowledge but not in Christian maturity. So I picked up easy reading—Radical by David Platt and Crazy Love by Francis Chan—and it made a huge difference. I also began to read fiction more regularly again. For the past six years, I read fiction every night before bed (if I don’t I can’t sleep!).
I was reflecting this week that the “Reading Wars” I talked about in last week’s musing extend beyond finding the time to read, but also being selective in what we read. There is a real danger that we fail to do the hard work of analytical reading, but I think it is maybe equally important to maintain our sense of wonder, imagination, and joy through reading books that don’t relate to our career. For me, I make time for this as I go to bed, and I bring a book with me nearly everywhere, that way I can redeem the time if I’m stuck at the dentist office, auto shop, or simply waiting for my kids to get in the car for school.
How do you make time for this kind of reading? What books help you maintain your wonder, imagination, and joy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.