11 Principles For Reading Books

Dr. Doulgas Groothuis (PhD, University of Oregon) serves as the Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary. He is a sharp thinker who writes with a clear pen.

He was once asked to give his thoughts on reading. In response, he provided eleven principles for reading books:

  1. Read often, giving adequate time for the nature of the work.
  2. Stop watching TV (if you do). It tends to rot the mind. Read the appendix to Truth Decay on that as well as the contemporary classic, Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman (1985). Edit: I would also suggest to limit or stop social media use.
  3. Mark up your books, underlining key ideas and jotting ideas in the margins. Keep an index in the front of the book of the most important ideas. If the book is especially profound, take detailed notes on it.
  4. Try to use the ideas from good books in letters, essays, teachings, and conversations. Form a book club. Keep the ideas alive. Aspire to write a book yourself, if it is needed and you are the person to write it.
  5. Reread important books. This is a mark of the literary person, as CS Lewis notes in An Experiment in Criticism. I have been rereading much of Francis Schaeffer recently, a man I first read nearly 30 years ago as a young Christian. It is well worth it.
  6. Never get rid of a book you have read. I have thousands of books but lament that I have let go of some I have read (and some I didn’t).
  7. Read and reread old books. Don’t be taken captive by fashion. Savor the classics.
  8. Ask smart people what their favorite books are and why. Then read them.
  9.  Read in silence. Carve out a private place if need be.
  10. Always look up and learn unfamiliar words you find in your reading. From 1976-1994 or so, I filled a blank book of over 100 pages with such words. Use such words in conversation, even if the person you are conversing with may not know them.
  11. Spend time in books stores, new and old. Get a sense and feel for what is out there.

Reading is a gift of God. Prioritize it. Be intentional. Tolle Lege.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close