One of the things that helps in reading more challenging works is to set reading goals for the year and put together a plan for achieving them. It especially helps to break those yearly goals down into daily goals to make it happen. Love the quote I heard as a kid (it was plastered all over the walls at church) that goes like this: "You practice daily what you believe. All the rest is just religious talk." Also love the imagery that Andrew Starkowicz shares, of seeing long term goals like the great wall of China, and viewing your daily activities as one brick in that wall. Even if you don't do it perfectly, or don't complete every last part of the goal, you are still adding a brick to the wall, even if it's a small one. And the progress matters.
So here are some reading goals for 2013 and the plan to get there. This isn't every reading goal for the year, but a sampling from one category or reading.
I have a couple of multi volume sets that I want to make progress on this year:
Plutarch - Plutarch's series of short biographies is one of the more influential works in history. It was also one of the the three books that Bonhoeffer had on him at his death. Important to read for it's historical value and for the wealth of hidden anecdotal gems (like the story of Solon that I featured on pages 114 in the Stepping up video series manual). Goal is to finish volume one, which I'm already 200 pages into, and then begin volume two if the rest of the following list is completed.
Josephus - In seminary I asked the greek teacher (who also taught the "Jewish literature" course) what were the most important Jewish works to read. Without hesitation he said Josephus and Philo. So for Christmas that year my father-in-law gave this three volumes series from CBD (Josephus, Philo, and Eusebius ). Goal is to read another 200 pages from Josephus work this year.
Francis Schaeffer - His works have had a huge influence on Julie and I, especially a collection of his letters and his wife's book on their ministry, L'abri. So much so that we're naming our next son after him! Have read volume one in the series and a smattering from the other volumes. Goal is to finish volume four this year.
C.S. Lewis' letters - Own a three volume collection of his letters (each at over 1,000 pages!). Have read about about 300 pages from volume one, and there are few things that I've read that are as rich and inspiring. Goal is to read three letters a week. That should take me through most of the rest of volume one.
Lastly, I also want to read through the New Testament in Greek this year, which I've already posted about this here.
In order to put these yearly goals in measurable, daily goals, I added up all the pages of these volumes and figured out that I need to read about 10 pages a night to work through all these this year. pretty simple, eh?
To keep track of all this, I came up with a form to help me record daily progress on reading these books, along with the Greek New Testament, exercise (goals for miles swimming, running, and biking), and number of words written. Thus I've broken down a few annual goals into daily, measurable categories that can be measured and recorded on one sheet of paper. And at the end of each day I can know exactly how much progress I've made toward my yearly goals.
So do you have any reading goals for this year? I'd love to hear about it in the comments if you do.