7 Tips For Better Book Reading

Bob Kauflin and Tim Challies recently wrote excellent posts on the place of reading in the life of a Christian and I would encourage you to read both posts. As a fellow lover of books, I thought I would add a couple of practical suggestions on what types of books to read. So here they are in no particular order.

Read Books By Dead People
We have a tendency to love what’s new and current. We like books that talk about new ideas, books by new authors, and books with new covers. We’re anxious to get the latest book by our favorite author. But in all our zeal for new books, we can miss out on the wisdom and insight of men and women that have been dead for hundreds of years. Hear the words of C.S. Lewis:

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.

We need to stand on the shoulders of men like Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, and C.S. Lewis. They knew God in a way that few people today do. So read books by dead guys.

Find A Dead Historical Hero
Don’t have a dead spiritual hero? Get one, and then read everything they wrote. Why should they be dead? Because, as John Piper says, that way they won’t disappoint you. My dead spiritual heroes are Charles Spurgeon and C.S. Lewis, and I’m slowly making my way through the vast number of books they’ve written. As I’ve read books by these men my soul has been fed and my love for God stirred.

Read Books Recommended By Godly Men
You can see C.J. Mahaney’s recommended reading list here. The Discerning Reader has a number of similar lists on their site as well. Read these books!

Read Books That Make You Laugh
Humor and laughter are a gift from God, to be enjoyed for His glory. For a good laugh I recommend “Letters From A Nut” by Ted L. Nancy.

Read Biographies of Godly Men and Women
Few things stir my soul with fresh passion for God like a biography of a godly man or woman. When I read about the life of Charles Spurgeon, my heart is moved to love Jesus like he did. When I read about George Whitfield, I long to proclaim the gospel as he did. Get a good biography and let your heart be stirred by the example of a godly man or woman.

Read One Good Book Over and Over
Charles Spurgeon read “The Pilgrim’s Progress” over 100 times during his life. Why? Because the truths found within the book gripped his soul. I want to emulate the example of Spurgeon. I want to find one book that sets my heart ablaze with love for God and then read it many times throughout my life. Consider doing the same.

Read “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Lord of the Rings”
Enough said.

  • beth

    where did you go to school?
    that’s seven tips brother.
    i’d answer Spurgeon for most of those.
    and to the last one – i’ll read Narnia over and over, but Lord of the Rings…?

  • Stephen Altrogge

    Whoops! I added two tips after I wrote the post. I guess that’s what happens when you are home-teached…

    Notice that I changed the title…

  • Bill Reichart


    Provocative Church came from a book by that title by Graham Tomlin.

    It is a fab book about the church being missional. And I felt as if the title captured the essence of what I wanted to communicate.

  • Lance

    Great tips, thanks!

    I was pleased to find “Letters from a Nut” in your humor advice. My pastoral library contains two of these, just a few inches from Spurgeon’s Sermons.

  • udli

    check out some of the very best book reviews…that too on video…book reviews

  • http://kowalkerjourney.com/ Erik

    Fantastic tips on better book reading, especially reading books by dead people! Your point on “finding a dead spiritual hero” and read everything by him was VERY helpful. A few years ago I got hooked on the writings of J.C. Ryle ( http://www.charlesnolanpublishers.com/Aboutryle.htm) and I’ve made it my aim to gobble up his stuff. Your post was so encouraging I placed it on my blog with a link (Hat Tip -H.T.-) back to you. May this post continue to be read all over the blogosphere! Enjoy your blog! -Erik

  • Stephen Altrogge

    Erik –

    I’m so glad you found these tips helpful. J.C. Ryle is excellent! What a great dead guy to select for a hero.

  • http://www.thandaza.org.za Jakes Olivier

    Thanks for an awesome load of reading!

    By the way, the link to CJ Mahaney’s list of recommnded books hould be: http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/category.aspx?categoryID=2017

  • http://livrariadothiago.com Thiago Bomfim

    Ótimo post. Eu sou brasileira e estou seguintes seu blog desde agora. Eu realmente gosto de blogs falando sobre livros, ainda mais se esses livros estão relacionados ao CS Lewis.

  • http://livrariadothiago.com Thiago Bomfim

    Great post. I’m brazilian and I’m following your blog since now. I really like of blogs speaking about books, even more if these books are related to C.S. Lewis.

    Sorry for the first comment in portuguese, please delete it.

  • http://www.humanitasremedium.wordpress.com Russ