It is inevitable. The summer reading slump. I always know it’s coming and I always say, “not this year.” But it always happens. So May/June has been on the slow end of reading for me, about half my normal load. And much of what I did pick up, I put back down half-way through. It took me many years to be ok with doing that, but I do it often these days. Life is too short to read books that aren’t interesting you at the time. Plus, who knows, you might find it better in the future. Better to read one now that captivates you now. The best books are the ones that are hard to put down.
THAT BEING SAID….
One solid slump-fighting strategy I use is book discussions. Here is my current list of books I’m discussing with someone else on a regular basis, some weekly, some monthly, some occasionally, some virtually, and some in person, some with individuals, and some in groups.
- The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman (monthly-in person)
- Dynamics of Spiritual Life by Richard Lovelace (occasionally person)
- Lives of the Stoics by Ryan Holiday (weekly-virtual)
- Providence by John Piper (weekly-virtual)
- O death, Where is Thy Sting? by John Murray (occassionally – in person)
- The World-Ending Fire by Wendell Berry (monthly – virtually)
- Money Master the Game by Tony Robins (bi-weekly – in person)
- Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham (monthly – virtually).
Most likely I’ll make it through all these books before the end of the year (except maybe #4), so even if I read nothing else the rest of the year (unlikely!), I will make it through seven or eight books of decent caliber and have learned more about the books because of the insight from the discussions.
I use the word ‘discussion’ pretty loosely. There’s never an agenda. Each person I’m discussing the book with helped choose the book. Usually we each bring one or two insights from the book that meant something to us while also using the time to discuss other aspects of our lives. You have to work carefully to match the person with the book and also have grace with one another. About a month ago I caught a cold and it threw me off in all my reading, and I fell behind on all my commitments. No worries. Everyone understood. It’s not about the reading – it’s about the relationships! (I’m saying that to myself people).
The other thing happening in our house is the annual summer reading challenge. I fell behind on this big time this year, but I scrambled to set something up for our two youngest. Our eight year old boy is reading the Narnia series (all seven books) and our eleven year old girl is reading this church history series for kids (five volumes so good – I love them because they are story based). Each earns money for each book upon completion and a bonus for finishing the series. The older earns more money per book because she has less books and a bigger bonus for completing (and thus more money overall) because the books are more challenging and she is older.
Still working on a possible reading challenge for my sixteen-year-old, but he’s much busier (swim practice, camping, running a lawn service and a photography business, mountain biking, camping, etc.) so we will see. Let me know if you are
bribing incentivizing your kids to read this summer and what books you’re using.