The Lost Art of Reading

by hamiltonmj1983

Since graduating in May of 2010, I have not kept up with the reading that I need to do in order to be preparing myself to enter a Ph.D. program within the next 5 years, which is my goal. I found plenty of excuses, and with the birth of my son last summer, July of 2011, I had more excuses than I knew what to do with.

Through all of my excuses, I missed reading. My love of books began at a very young age. I remember reading the newspaper in Kindergarten (I distinctly remember reading about President George H. W. Bush winning the election in Fall of 1988, and my Kindergarten teacher had pinned the paper to the bulletin board. Nobody believed that I could read the paper at age 5 until I read it aloud), and started reading full 200-300 page books by the time I started the 1st grade. I was reading 700+ page fantasy novels by the 3rd grade, and continued my obsession of reading, usually between 1200-1500 pages per week, until I graduated high school.

“Required reading” should have been an awesome thing for me when I entered college. During my 3 year stint at a community college, however, I refused to read anything. I cannot explain why, I just did not do it. When I transferred to Carson-Newman, I read some, but not any more than what was required. Even my first two semesters of my Master’s degree was devoid of any but the most necessary books.

Finally, during my final 4 semesters of my Master’s, I started to read again. I now was in love with non-fiction books, particularly history and religion (obviously, if my Master’s was in Biblical Studies, that makes sense!). Unfortunately, at the time of graduation, my schedule became incredibly busy. I graduated, moved, got married, moved again and went through a couple of short-term jobs in the first year. Then we had a baby (and keeping me more busy is the continual “we have a baby”), and I basically stopped reading. While at work I managed to read Wellhausen’s Prolegomena and a few other books, but ultimately my total reading for calendar year 2011 was probably under 2000 pages.

I decided that I needed to change, and that I needed to read in order to (a) enjoy myself! and (b) stay current on scholarship in religion and Old Testament biblical studies.

My plan? Writing book reviews! I started with reviewing popular books on my blog through such opportunities as Booksneeze and the Tyndale Blog Network, which send me a free book in exchange for an honest review on my blog (and I have to repost the review on Amazon). Then, just this past month, I have had the opportunity to review for a number of publications. I have already read and reviewed a book for Bible Study Magazine, and am currently reading books to review for the Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament and also for the Religious Studies Review.

Besides the excitement that this means that I will actually have published material (albeit only book reviews) to increase the length of my CV by three lines, but I also am reading and enjoying books! While my reading speed is slower with non-fiction compared to fiction, I am certain that I am still reading between 800-1000 pages a week, which is awesome.