It is a new year, so why not read a book?

It is a new year, so why not read a book?

Reading seems to be a lost art these days. It is so easy to get busy with all kinds of things and never get around to it. And when we do have time to relax, so often it is scrolling through social media or binge watching the latest series on Netflix. If we want to know something, we just google it and find some blog post or news article. Why would we bother with books?

I fear that we lose a great deal if we fail to read. Here’s a list of reasons why reading books is helpful for Christians:

  1. Reading books makes us use our brains

Reading any kind of book makes us follow a storyline or idea, holding different concepts in our minds as we go. As we mostly don’t read books in one sitting, returning to where we left off forces us to remember what has already happened. Those things are true of all books, but the best books are ones that also challenge our thinking and engage us with ideas.

  1. Reading books builds our logic and concentration

It is not a coincidence that teachers report that the ability of children to concentrate has declined dramatically at the same time screen use has markedly increased. Social media and YouTube videos can wash over us with little thought or lasting impact at all. Having to follow a sustained story or argument builds concentration, a skill needed in many other areas of life. You will need it whether you are a bricklayer or a surgeon.

  1. Reading books enables us to go deeper into topics

Yes, you can google anything you want, but there is a limitation to blog posts and the short answers we get back from our online searches. Some topics are complex and need deeper thinking than whatever clever couple of lines someone has come up with. In fact, any topic can be explored more deeply by a book than a blog post or YouTube video. If we are to think carefully about topics and not just grab onto a slogan, we need the kind of deeper engagement a book helps us with.

  1. Reading books means we intentionally choose the content we consume

Mindlessly scrolling social media puts us at the mercy of the algorithm that decides what we watch. Over time, we get more of what we like. (For me, I see a lot of cute dogs, golf videos, and birds). The social media company is dictating what you consume, and this is not a conscious choice we make. If that is all the content we consume, we are allowing programmers we have never met to control our intellectual diet. Selecting a book to read means you have decided what to consume instead.

  1. Reading books helps us when we read the Bible

The Bible is a book. I know that’s not a revolutionary idea, but it matters for our discussion here. If we are to read the Bible and understand it, that requires a certain set of skills. It will require us to concentrate, to understand metaphor and other word pictures, and to follow logical arguments. If we lose these skills, our ability to make the most of the Word of God will become compromised. Those who do not read much at all also often do not read their Bible much at all.


That list could be longer, of course. For myself, I realise that when I get so busy or stressed that I cannot concentrate on a book that I am doing too much. I need books. I am deeply grateful for the many books that have challenged and encouraged me and shaped my thinking. I am even grateful for the ones I strongly disagreed with that made me think about things I otherwise would not have.

This is a quieter time of year for many. Why not read a book? Start with something easy, a light novel perhaps. Choose a Christian book that covers a topic you’d always wanted to know more about. You’ll see the benefits.

Screen time fills our lives, often with little benefit. Do something worth doing: read a book.