Today is the first day of summer. It’s summer solstice—the longest day of the year.
As a high school student, the first day of summer was like a big happy sigh. It was the start of two whole months of freedom. Even if I worked a job, summer still felt like a break: there was no homework lying in wait to attack me at the end of the day.
But before all this free time went to my head, Mom came along with that old favorite—the “summer schedule.” Now, Mom wanted her girls to have a fun summer as much as we did. She’d plan trips to Kings Dominion (a nearby amusement park) and we’d go berry picking and to “free-swim” hour at the pool. But she was determined we wouldn’t completely waste those long summer days.
That’s where the “summer schedule” came in. It meant waking up before noon, having morning devotions, practicing piano, maybe cooking dinner once a week. But no matter how it changed from year to year, it always included one hour per day of mandatory reading. And those books I read—they have shaped my life, and still bring me joy all these years later.
Maybe you’re not much of a reader. But in John Piper’s book When I Don’t Desire God he shares a great idea for non-readers or not-so-fast readers to actually finish good books. (Maybe his mom had a “summer schedule” too.) He writes:
“Suppose you read slowly like I do—maybe about the same speed that you speak—200 words a minute. If you read fifteen minutes a day for one year (say just before supper, or just before bed), you will read 5,475 minutes in the year. Multiply that by 200 words a minute, and you get 1,095,000 words that you would read in a year. Now an average serious book might have about 360 words per page. So you would have read 3,041 pages in one year. That’s ten very substantial books. All in fifteen minutes a day.”
John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 129.
Now I tried to work out how many pages you could read before the autumn equinox (the first day of fall) in ninety-four days, but I was never very good at math. However I bet you could read three books this summer if you set aside fifteen minutes a day.
May I offer some suggestions?
1. Read a book about God. And there’s no better place to start than the modern classic Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
2. Read a good biography. My elementary school librarian, Miss Kisiel, used to make her students read three biographies before we could check out one Nancy Drew. We complained, but today I am still inspired by the godly men and women I met in those books. My current pick for a good biography is The God I Love by Joni Eareckson Tada.
3. Read a classic work of literature. A Tale of Two Cities has to be my favorite novel of all time. The key is not stopping after the first chapter. It gets better. Much better. And the ending…wow!
So, what are you still looking at this blog for? You have some reading to do!