James W. Sire in his book, "How to Read Slowly: Reading for Comprehension," provides a motivating reason for us to read, and to read with understanding. He writes, ". . . I am most interested in encouraging Christians to think and read well. Christians, of all people, should reflect the mind of their Master. Learning to read well is a step toward loving God with your mind" (12). Sire's book is a classic on the topic. Reading, reflecting, and living well, are all ways we can love God with our minds (See Sire's helpful chapter on "A Time to Read: Knowing What to Read and When").
When picking up a book at your church or local bookstore, sit down and read it in ten to 15 minutes. How? Begin by overviewing the book (see the link to the article below). Read the back of the book to get an idea about it's topic and who endorses the book. Then read the front and back inside jacket. Skim quickly through the preface and introduction and read the last three pages of the book. If you have time, look over the outline. Select one chapter that catches your eye. Turn to that chapter and read the first line of several paragraphs in the chapter. By then you should have a good idea of where the author is going with the book, and whether or not you want to buy it.
You may want to simply read most books at leisure, but other books you may want to master. The following is from a web article written by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason ministries (http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6761). The three steps he suggests for mastering a book are: Preview, Read, and Postview Immediately. I've applied this process on a few books whose content I've wanted to master. With discipline you too can obtain mastery over books you read.
When previewing a book you want to skim the entire book at a rate of 4-10 seconds per page. Don't stop, just read through to the end. Then write in pencil on the title page a concise summary statement what you think the book is about. Once you have previewed the entire book you are ready to preview each chapter. Read each page quickly just as you did before. Then go back and read the chapter again as fast as possible, using a pointer, but this time stopping only to mark margins for later study. The final step in the preview stage is to go back to the beginning of the chapter and write a 1-4 sentence summary in pencil on top of the title of the chapter.
Now you are ready for the post-read of the chapter. Re-read the chapter one more time. Do this quickly, but stopping at points where you made a mark in order to interact with the author, adding additional comments or questions on the margins. After reading through the chapter refine your 1-4 sentence summary at the beginning of the chapter. Then return to the end of the chapter and try to write an outline of the main points you read. Before going on to the next chapter in the book always review your summary statements and outlines from the previous chapter. Although it requires patience, I've found this method to be a valuable tool in helping me learn well the material covered in a book.
Do you think you can read six books in year? Some of you may be avid readers, but for others this would be a challenge. However, it isn't difficult if you discipline yourself to read a book of about 200 pages in sixty days. How? Simply read four pages per day. You can read any particular book for mastery if you apply the steps given above.
There's one more thing I want to touch on. Some people might say, "But isn't reading the Bible sufficient?" "Shouldn't I concentrate only on devotional readings?" Or, "Why read anyway when there's better things to do with my time?" Sire encourages us to read beyond the Bible, although reading and studying the Bible should be done regularly. He challenges us to think of the value of reading, and of reading broadly. Sire writes: ". . . Those who read little other than the Bible do so to the detriment of themselves and to diminishing of the radiant glory of God who is the fount of all knowledge and truth" (155). In other words, God's truth in creation comes to us through many disciplines, and is not limited only to the spiritual truths found in Scripture. And don't worry about how many books you read, just enjoy your reading experience, stretch yourself a little, and continue growing as an individual. "The point is to start and then to read well. How far we get, how many books we read, must not become the issue" (Sire, 155).
Once again I want to encourage you to read a book, grow in your understanding of our world, and share your knowledge with others. Then pass the good title along.
Por Su Gracia y Poder