If you’re like most people, you bounce from book to book haphazardly. What you read from month to month and year to year is simply not something you really sit down and think about. Or maybe you’ve gone through a season without reading any books at all.  If that’s the case, you’re definitely not alone:

“The Pew Research Center reported [in January of 2014] that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978.”

Many of us are very intentional about what we put in our bodies (especially this time of year). Shouldn’t we also be intentional about what we put in our minds and hearts? 

5 Reasons to Plan Your Reading in 2018

Here are five quick reasons why you should plan out your reading for the year:

1. You’ll Read More Books

It’s a simple fact. If you plan your reading, you’re pretty much guaranteed to read more than you did last year. Why? Because if you take the time to pick out ten or twelve books you really want to read, it’ll create excitement and anticipation. As a result, you’ll spend more time reading! And it will help you push through the slow parts of a book when you’re pumped about the next book on your list.

 2. You’ll Read Better Books

Sometimes when I’m in-between books, I’ll just look around the house and see what’s available. This isn’t always a bad strategy, but if you’re young like me, you probably don’t have an extensive collection of books. Therefore, your reading options will be severely limited. Don’t let laziness get in the way of a fruitful reading year. Do some research, figure out which books you want to read, and get your hands on them. If you can’t afford to spend the money to buy them, pick them up at your local library or borrow from a friend.

3. You’ll Be a Better Steward of Your Reading Time

Often when we think about stewardship, we think about money and financial resources. But we forget that time is one of our greatest resources. As I’ve said before, there’s simply not enough time in this life to read all the books in the world. Let’s say you read 8 books a year from here on out and you live to be 78 years old. Assuming that you’re in your mid-twenties, that means you only have about 424 books left. That may sound like a lot, but it’s really not. So choose your books wisely!

4. You’ll Be a Better Business Leader

As attested by Harvard Business Review, the best business leaders are constant learners. And what’s one of the primary ways you think they learn? You guessed it. By reading books. And not just books in their field. Great business leaders read widely, pulling insights from completely unrelated areas.

5. You’ll Be a Better Person

Books have the power to change lives. It’s as simple as that. Malcolm X nailed it on this point: “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” By opening you up to new perspectives and ideas, reading great books can make you a better leader (at home, in the workplace, in your church, in life), a better friend, a better spouse, a better neighbor, and a better lover of people.

A Reading Strategy

Are you convinced but not sure where to start? Feeling overwhelmed? Here’s what I would do.

Pick 12 books to read this year.

That’s one per month–a very doable goal.

Mix it up.

As I’ve said before, my reading strategy is to alternate between old books and newer books. I adopted this model after I heard this quote from C.S. Lewis:

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

Additionally, I try to read a wide range of books: children’s books, classic and contemporary literature, business books (inside and outside your field), Christian books, historical nonfiction, short stories, and poetry.

Try not to read more than a few books at a time.

I typically try not to read more than two books at a time. Why? If you’re attempting to read 10+ books at the same time, you’ll never finish any of them. I like reading one fiction book and one nonfiction book simultaneously because sometimes I’m in the mood for a good story and other times for a learning session. It’s good to have options–just not too many or you’ll never finish.

Book Ideas for 2018

Ok, so now that you’ve got a strategy, it’s time to pick your books. This is the fun part. Not sure where to start? Allow me to give you a few ideas:

My Favorite Books of All Time (including fiction, nonfiction, and Christian)

The Best Books I Read in 2017

The Best Books I Read in 2016

The Best Books I Read in 2015

Fiction

TIME Magazine’s Greatest Novels of All Time

Christian

The Gospel Coalition’s Hubworthy Page (see what books have most influenced Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, Russell Moore, Melissa Kruger, and more)

Business

The Personal MBA’s list of 99 Best Business Books

Michael Hyatt’s list of The 37 Best Business Books He’s Ever Read

Nonfiction Miscellaneous

The New York Times’ List of Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

My (Loose) Reading List for the Year

Remember, you don’t have to stick to your plan exactly. It’s not set in stone. Mine certainly isn’t. But I guarantee you’ll be glad you made one.

Here’s my loose reading list for the year. Last year I read close to 30 books. This year I’m shooting for 40.

Fiction

Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry

Dune by Frank Herbert

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro 

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

Perelandia by C.S. Lewis

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Nonfiction

What Are People For? by Wendell Berry

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Monster by John Gregory Dunne

The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield

Christian

 life together

Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyon

Inside Out by Larry Crabb

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

Come Back, Barbara by Jack Miller

Spiritual Depression by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert