August 2, 2023

Seven-day Readers

Seven types of books for each day of the week

Justin Kim

One keystone habit worthwhile for ministry, education, leadership, or any professional development is reading. We live in an age when we really don’t read but scroll. We listen to audiobooks and watch clips galore. Though these have their place, old-fashioned analog reading has the best benefits.

Studies have shown that read­ing increases intelligence, vocabulary, and sentence length; reduces stress and anxiety; improves analytical thinking, writing skills, creativity, and discipline; and activates the mental processes in general. There is nothing like reading—good reading—that expands the mind and soul together. This one habit primes the brain to enable other helpful habits.

Modifying what a mentor shared, I counsel seven types of books:

1. Read Scripture. There is nothing like the Word of God to strengthen the mind, sharpen the intellect, deepen the heart, and ennoble the spirit. It is a full course of education all by itself.

2. Read the Spirit of Prophecy. Read especially the five books of the Conflict of the Ages series: Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, The Desire of Ages, The Acts of the Apostles, and The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White. If you have read these, try some of her other books: Education, The Ministry of Healing, Christ’s Object Lessons, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, and Early Writings. Or if you’ve never heard of any of these titles, start with Steps to Christ. The contents of these troves range from education to biology, history to philosophy, and parenting to finances. How much more practical can you get? These wonderful gifts to the church should be read and treasured more than they are.

3. Read 10 books in an area in which you’d like to specialize. This is essentially what university courses do. By the tenth book, the information should be familiar. You will be very knowledgeable in that subject. You should ask yourself the question What do I want to know well? and read accordingly.

4. Read difficult books. Read books so difficult that you may not finish or understand them. The point isn’t to master them, but merely to stretch the mind. You are bound to have picked up something: an idea, observation, or at least one abstruse word.

5. Read random books. I once read a book on Iran that immensely helped my Christian witness to a government official. I read others on poetry, the Supreme Court, the education of Asian-Americans, and the rise and fall of Roman emperors. All have been so beneficial to my thinking in general, have ameliorated (learned this word from number 4!) my conversational skills, and piqued my curiosity to explore other topics.

6. Read something you enjoy. Whether a magazine (the Advent­ist Review!) with special interest, or something practical, read what you enjoy. With all the aforementioned heavy lifting, one needs to cultivate the enjoyment of reading as well. Ensure this book is short so that you enjoy the experience of having finished a book.

7. Read biographies. Historical Christian biographies are the best (and only) way to understand the lives of dead believers of the past. There is nothing like a nonfiction story of an inspiring individual. Reading not only about the greats but also the notorious can also help us to avoid the pitfalls of life.

“There is more encouragement to us in the least blessing which we receive ourselves than in reading biographical works relating to the faith and experience of noted [men and women] of God. . . . Let us keep fresh in our memory all the tender mercies that God has shown us—the tears He has wiped away, the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings bestowed—thus strengthening ourselves for all that is before us through the remainder of our pilgrimage.”* Read—don’t scroll or skim or listen while driving or cooking or mowing. Sit down and concentrate; prime your mind for receiving and loving truth.

*Ellen G. White, Our High Calling (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1961), p. 135.