In just a few days the bells will ring and the new year begins. 2020 is quickly approaching. At the end of the year, and the beginning of a new year, people often plan things or think of what they’d like to do differently in the new year.

I am a bit of a planner, I enjoy thinking ahead and deciding on future events and things that are coming my way. One of the things that this effects is of course my reading. I would encourage you to plan your reading for 2020. I don’t mean that you need to have book titles on a shelf waiting, or that you must read a specific number of books. But planning your reading will help you actually do it.

Say, for example, you want to read a book a month in 2020; choose 12 topics, check what you already have and have ideas of what you could buy. I used to do this, I would plan a few months in advance and try have a bunch of books set aside that I knew I wanted to get through. It was a helpful exercise which boosted my reading.

But today I’d like to mention something a little bit different. Often people ask me for the kind of books they should read, obviously it depends on your interests. But here are three types of reading that I always encourage everyone to take up in 2020. Read to be…

1. Stretched

Sometimes reading can be used as an escape from reality, others might use television or other hobbies but some people find that escape in reading. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, it can mean that we don’t engage our minds that much and we aren’t being stretched.

I would encourage you to pick up at least one book this year that stretches you. That stretch may be because it’s a more academic work, or that it’s on a topic you’ve never considered before. Whatever it is, it’s always helpful to read materials that will push you a bit out of your comfort zone and stretch you. For some people that might mean picking up a Systematic Theology. For others it might mean reading a shorter general theology book, and for some it might mean picking up a small book. Whatever it is, and whatever topic it is, read something that will stretch you.

2. Challenged

Read at least one book that will challenge you. Maybe you’re thinking “that’s what he’s just written about in the first point, has he lost it?” The points are similar but here I encourage people to engage with materials that they know are of a different opinion than their own. Speaking personally, because I read mostly Christian non-fiction I started from very early in my reading hobby to read books that I knew I disagreed with. Sometimes this means that I’m reading a book that makes me annoyed because they’re twisting Scripture or misrepresenting God. But it means that I’m engaging with other arguments and I’m more equipped to defend what I believe to be right properly.

If we only ever read books from ‘our tribe’ or those who we agree with 100% then we won’t really grow. What we need to do is engage with others of different opinions (with reason and wisdom!) and be challenged as we read. Being challenged is a good thing because it means that we really need to know why we believe what we believe.

3. Entertained

We also need to read for entertainment! Reading doesn’t have to be a chore. About 6 years ago reading was a chore for me, I didn’t enjoy it and would more happily watch paint dry than read a book. But that all changed and now I enjoy reading and it’s one of my favourite ways to relax.

Sadly many people can see reading as a chore, but often it’s because people are reading the wrong books. You don’t have to read a massive book, start off with something small and enjoyable. Being entertained doesn’t mean that to you don’t engage your brain. I, for example, enjoy reading big theology books (I know, I’m a geek) but you might enjoy picking up a fictional book. Whatever it is, make sure that you take time to read something that you enjoy and will entertain you. If you don’t do that then reading can just become another task that fills a usually already busy life.

I would love for you guys to comment below or drop me a wee note with the books/topics you’re thinking of reading in 2020.