This year, as I summarize my reading from 2021, I do so with a fair amount of frustration; frustration at the current context of being in a pandemic; frustration with myself because my reading goals for the year were nowhere close to being achieved; frustration that my lack of reading gave rise to wasting time. Let me explain.
This is the third year in a row that I have read fewer books than I had hoped and fewer books than the year before. Now, I realize that it isn’t about numbers per se. That is, one could read one book—I’ve got a good suggestion if that is the route you want to take—for the entire year and still have a good year in regards to a lot of the things reading helps me with; things like sanctification, increasing in knowledge, keeping informed on current issues, and using leisure time well. However, I also know myself. I know that, generally speaking, when I’m reading well and reading a significant amount, that is generally a good indication that my walk is going well.
Some might be surprised that I didn’t read a whole whack of books this year since the COVID pandemic and its accompanying lockdowns meant many other activities were curtailed. But, as I noted in last year’s summary of my reading, pandemic restrictions are not good for my reading!
I gave less time to reading and more time to YouTube. I gave less time to reading and more time to Netflix. And let me be blunt: I feel dumber. I feel like I have a shorter attention span and less capacity to think through hard truths. Some of that may be excusable, but much of it isn’t. And reading can help me here; I believe one of the great benefits of reading simply comes from the fact that spending time reading curtails my time spent on social media, on the internet, and watching entertainment. That is why I keep track of my reading and write blog posts such as this one every year.
This is going to change. I am committed to return to practices that saw me reading 40+ books in a year. I have read 4 already this month and will complete at least 2 more before February. It is a good start and I intend to follow through for the next 12 months. May God help me!
As many of you know, at the beginning of each year for 12 years I have blogged about the reading I did the previous year. Here are some links: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. I blog about the past year of reading for several reasons which I have shared in the past and share again today. First, it is a means of holding myself accountable. I value reading and intend to make it an integral part of my life. By making my reading life public, I can allow people a glimpse into one of the disciplines of my life. Second, I hope for my reading history to be an encouragement to others. Though I know many others who read much more than I do, nevertheless, my year-long record of reading often surprises people in terms of what is possible if reading is a priority. I have a full-time job and five kids involved in extra-curricular activities. A very small portion of my reading occurs at work; though, I think I should read more at work and I hope to do so in 2021. I think that if I can share some of my successes with reading, that other busy people will be encouraged to read more. And that, in my estimation, would be a good thing. Third, to give glory to God. It is by grace that we read, desire to read, learn from our reading. The fact that my life allows me time to read, and that I have the faculties to do so, are nothing more than gifts from God to a person who has done nothing to deserve such favour.
Here is a list of the books I read in 2021:
- Finding the Right Hills to Die On by Gavin Ortlund
- The Sovereignty of Grace by Arthur Custance
- Not Afraid of the Antichrist by Michael Brown and Craig Keener
- Raised with Christ by Adrian Warnock
- Sanctification: An Alliance Distinctive by Samuel J. Stoesz
- Wholly Sanctified by A. B. Simpson
- Living with the Living God by George Smeaton and John Owen
- The Fourfold Gospel by A. B. Simpson
- The Ascension of Christ by Patrick Schreiner
- The Christ of the Empty Tomb by James Montgomery Boice
- Christ Crucified by Donald Macleod
- Divorce and Remarriage by Wayne Grudem
- Corporate Worship by Matt Merker
- Deacons by Matt Smethurst
- Ruth for You by Tony Merida
- Ruth and Esther by David Strain
- The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman
- Does God Care How We Worship? by Ligon Duncan
- Men and Women in the Church by Kevin DeYoung
- I Still Do by Dave Harvey
- The Church: An Introduction by Gregg Allison
- G. K Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense by Dale Ahlquist
- God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew Walker
I’m hopeful for better things in 2022 on many fronts and my personal discipline in reading is one of them. I hope the same for you!