Finding a Strategy for Reading Non-Fiction Books

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thoroughly digging Tony Reinke’s book, Lit: A Christian Guide to Reading Books.  It has inspired me to read more and has helped me to develop a strategy for my practice of reading.  The following is a section of the book that helps a reader know how to read different non-fiction books:

Different books must be read in different ways… So what should I do with a particular book?  After a slow inspection of a book I have four options:

  1. Chew and digest it like a steak.  This approach says, yes, this appears to be an excellent book that will answer the questions I have asked.  I want to read the book carefully and intentionally from cover to cover.
  2. Swallow it like a milkshake.  Yes, this appears to be a helpful book that will answer my questions.  I want to read the entire book, but at a quick pace.  I don’t want to invest too much time on this single book.
  3. Sample it like a cheese platter.  Yes and no.  Portions of the book seem to be unrelated to my questions, but other sections appear to be very pertinent and helpful.  There is nothing wrong with reading only portions of a book or specific chapters.  By doing this you keep your book reading focused, and this focus can protect you from losing interest.  Most importantly, this choice will protect you from the common myth that books must always be read from cover to cover.  Not so.
  4. Spit it out like expired milk.  No, this does not appear to be a book that will answer my questions, or at least not as well as another book might.  I will move along and look for a replacement.


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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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