You read a book. You like it. You might even love it!
But a year from now, if someone asks you about it, all you can remember is: It was so good! Why? I can’t remember.
I know because this happens to me sometimes. And I don’t like it.
We Are What We Read
If I read something that is amazing—even life-changing—I don’t want to forget it. I don’t want to be a hearer and not a doer (James 1:23-24). I’d rather be the blessed person who does what she hears (James 1:25), incorporating the words into who I am.
We are somewhat influenced by everything we read. Just this weekend I was feeling icky the more I read in a novel I’d started on vacation. In a rare move, I decided to delete it off my Kindle unfinished, an act I should do more often when a book is boring, bad, or a total time-waster.
So if we want to be influenced in a good way from beneficial books we read, here’s something I just read in a book that I hope I WILL remember and do:
“Choose the one thing you’ve read from this book that will make the most difference in your life and do it. No matter what. Then, naturally, you will start to incorporate others. And, with time, you’ll find that your life moves in a purposeful direction.
Because the moments add up to days, the days add up to years, and the years add up to your life. Making sure that your days and moments are guided by what you want to accomplish with your years means each moment will reflect the life you choose to live. So you’ll know you’re getting the right things done.
It all starts with your one thing.”
– Peter Bregman, 18 Minutes
What if we actually did this? Each time we read a book, take one thing—just one thing!—and apply it.
Take One Thing
- Look for one thing
Pray for open eyes. Ask God to keep you aware of his message through the author’s words (or perhaps in spite of them, whichever the case may be). Pay attention to words and thoughts that move you.
- Write down your one thing
As you read, highlight any important passages, take notes, turn down pages, flag with post-it notes—whatever it is you do. Then after you’re finished the book, take an extra five minutes and choose one thing that you want to take from the book. Create a word document on your computer of One Things or write them in a notebook.
- Do that one thing
Just do it. Try. Experiment. Fail. Succeed. Fail again. Try again.
- Review your list of one things
Every six months or so, pull out your list of book titles and one things. Pray through them for any action steps you’d like to take.
Watch for More
Of course not every book has the same value. But in most books we can find at least one valuable truth (or hopefully multiple truths), whether fiction or non-fiction. Some things may be small; some may be large.
- Tim Hawkin’s Diary of a Jackwagon reminded me how good it feels to laugh out loud while reading a book and to do that more often.
- The Happiness Effect steered me to keep my friends on Facebook, but to pay more attention when we’re face-to-face.
- The Blessing of Humility from Jerry Bridges cautioned me (again) that I need to judge less and be humble more.
We see more when we look more.
And we’ll gain more from our reading when we intentionally seek to benefit from it. God is eager to enlighten us if we’ll invite and allow him to (2 Timothy 2:7).
The more often and more accurately we see God—through reading or any other avenue—the more we’ll love God. And the more we love God, the more we’ll love each other.
That’s what I want to remember—and do—because of reading.
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What’s your ‘one thing’ from a favorite book? Please share in the comments.
- Links, Books, and Other Things I Love – July 2016
- The More of Less – Book Review on Decluttering