My Reading Plan For This Year

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
When I was a freshman in college, a very wise older guy said to me: "In five years you will be the sum of the relationships you cultivate and the books that you read".

I think he was right.

Technology has changed since 1986 and so I would expand "books" to encompass the Internet in general and Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, etc. in particular. But the principle is the same.

Ever since he told me this, I have tried to be very intentional about my reading plan for each calendar year.

Specifically, I try to have a strategy around reading the Bible, the most important book of all; a strategy around reading that is for entertainment; and a strategy for reading for personal growth.

For the last decade or so my personal growth reading has focused on a specific area of interest I want to know more about. The strategy has included delving deeply into subjects such as screenwriting, song-writing, the Revolutionary War, family systems thinking...topics that may or may not related directly to my "job" but surely make me think differently and see things in new ways.

I buy a fresh Moleskine notebook each January, record all of the books I read in it, and write down the quotes that strike me.

I have a Kindle Paperwhite because I travel so much, but I mostly use it for periodicals and light reading. If there is a book I think will be significant I am still enough of a dinosaur to buy a hard copy.

So, here is my plan-in-formation for 2013:

1. Bible.
A little different this year. Most years, I make sure to get through the whole thing, using a variety of approaches to keep it fresh (very, very rarely do I start in Genesis and end in Revelation because one tends to bog down in Leviticus!).

This year I am going for depth over breadth. The first 150 days of the year will be devoted to one Psalm each day, read carefully and repeatedly and savored and prayed over.

Of course I am studying other passages of Scripture as I prepare to teach each week, but the Psalms are going to be my personal mainstay for the first five months of 2013.

After that? Not sure yet!

2. Personal Growth.
In March I am taking a group of leaders on an intensive two day tour of the Gettysburg battlefield and National Cemetery  studying the leadership lessons of that battle as lived out by Lincoln, Lee, Meade and other commanders. So my reading is going to focus this year on that great Civil War battle.

I'm going to be reading everything from technical military analyses to historical novels to character studies by eminent historians. The spiritual lives and convictions of many participants in the battle will be a main focus.

Because this is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, I have already collected a small shelf of books on that amazing few moments in American history and I can't wait to get into them. A cool part of the trip is that we will actually stand in the room where President Lincoln made his final revisions to the Address.

Also, I keep on my Kindle Paperwhite a few subscriptions to periodicals such as The Harvard Business Review and The New York Review of Books, which always help to sharpen my mind and introduce me to new ideas.

Finally, the last volume in the magisterial three volume biography of Winston Churchill written by William Manchester and finished by North Carolina's own Paul Reid after Manchester's death just came out and I am already in to its 1000+ pages.

3. Entertainment
I'm not going to lie - I love mysteries, police procedurals, and detective thrillers.

I spend a lot of time traveling in my role as a consultant and my rule is that in a hotel room at the end of the day I read stuff like that - fun stuff - it is an incredible way to unwind and refresh after an intense day of travel and engaging in sticky workplace challenges for our clients.

What I am reading right now is the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series set in England and written by Deborah Crombie. They are a detective and sergeant at Scotland Yard who (SPOILER ALERT) end up getting married and blending families. The mysteries are great and so is the human element. These Brits get me through many long nights in Oklahoma and Texas hotel rooms!

Oh, and if Lee Child or Michael Connelly should happen to add to the Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch franchises or if Harlan Coben brings back Myron Bolitar, I am all in!

So, that's my plan for reading this year. What's yours?


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