Calling All Book Lovers!

“Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47)

The person you are—and the person you will be, say, five years from now—is in significant part shaped by the books you read, the people you meet, and the places to which you travel. I’ve seen this in my own life, and I’ve often taught this idea to my children while encouraging them to actively (and wisely) engage in such life-shaping pursuits.

It’s often difficult to find the time or money to travel, and you never know whom you will meet in life. But everyone can afford a library card.

Today I want to talk with you about the quality and quantity of the books you’re reading. According to the folks at Google, more than 130 million books have been published in all of modern history. Indeed, there are so many books available that you can’t possibly read them all, so you might as well spend your precious reading time on the great books.

How many books do you read in a year? How much do you read for recreation or leisure? Do you read nonfiction? Have you read (or reread) any classics lately? Your answers to these questions will likely vary over time depending on changing life circumstances, family responsibilities, ministry activities, and work load.

Some people keep meticulous records of the books they read. (I know someone who has maintained a reading list for twenty-five years!) This is a nice tool for tracking your efforts and knowing at a glance if you’re reading more or less than in previous years. You can also judge quickly if it’s time to revisit an old favorite.

Recently I came across a BreakPoint commentary by Eric Metaxas titled “Readers Are Leaders.” In it, he raises the possibility that you could actually read 200 or more books every year. Interested?

Metaxas cites a recent article by Charles Chu that sums it up this way: In the time the average person spends on social media each year, he or she could read 200 books. Chu’s reasoning? The average American reads between 200 and 400 words per minute. If a typical book contains 50,000 words, 200 such books equals 10 million words. At 400 words per minute, it would take you 417 hours to read 200 books. That might sound like a lot of time for one year, but it’s only a little more than an hour a day.

“Sure,” you might say, “but I’m a homeschooling parent. Where would I ever find that much time in my busy schedule?” Well, the average American spends 608 hours per year on social media and another 1,642 hours watching TV. “If those hours were spent reading instead,” Chu writes, “you could be reading over 1,000 books a year.” (Groucho Marx famously said, “I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book.”)

Concerned about being labeled a bookworm or recluse hiding away from the world with a paperback classic? I’m certainly not advocating antisocial behavior. The truth is that good books expand our imagination, introduce us to new worlds, and help us empathize with our fellow human beings. I am a reader not because I don’t have a life but, rather, because I choose to have many.

I plan to continually grow. Five years from now, I want to find that I’ve become a better person. And so I try to stretch my mind in ways such that it can never regain its original, more limited dimensions. Reading good books—make that great books—is an excellent way to get there from here.

You might be wondering if audiobooks count. What about illustrated books you read aloud to your little ones or grandchildren? Personally, I like to download a good biography to be my companion on a long plane ride. I also have several audiobook versions of the Bible that I frequently listen to. So my answer is an emphatic yes for both audiobooks and children’s books.

Here’s one more golden nugget recommended by a good friend who’s also a voracious reader. It’s a Christian reading challenge with a helpful chart that will enable you to set appropriate goals depending on whether you consider yourself to be a light, avid, committed, or obsessed reader. Check it out here.

A final, hard-hitting observation from Charles Chu’s article: “Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books: It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part—the part we all ignore—is that we are too addicted, too weak, and too distracted to do what we all know is important.”

I think I’ll turn off the TV this evening and read a book. How about you?

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!

Davis Signature

Davis Carman

© 2017 Davis Carman

Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He blogs at and is the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!


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