If you were to rate the importance of reading on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate it? Of course, as people of the Book, I trust you would rate it fairly high. If so, let me ask a second question, When was the last time you read a book about the skill of reading? If reading is critically important, shouldn’t we develop the skill?
As I think about seminary students in our halls, I consider the amount of reading we require of them. It is not unusual for each class to have more than 1,000 pages of reading. If a student takes a full load, this means he will have around 6,000 pages of reading each semester. My concern is that these students understand the reading—not that their eyes have lighted upon every word. This is not to say that I want them to skip sections of reading; rather, I want them to benefit from the time they spend with the books assigned. I do not arbitrarily assign reading—as though I glory in the abundance of pain I can cause to my students. Each book is carefully chosen with a view towards mental and spiritual formation. For these reasons, I believe development in the skill of reading is crucial.
So if you have been tracking with me, you might ask what resource will help develop the skill? Perhaps no book has been as influential as How to Read a Book. Admittedly, the book is not designed for a seminary (though I would love to see a book designed with seminary student’s in mind!). The focus of the book is on classical works, but its principles apply more broadly. In my own reading, I have found the principles of the book quite helpful, and so I encourage all to read and benefit. I have written a review of the book, which you can read here. It would be better, however, if you read the book yourself!