How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time

We’re busy women – moms who love their jobs. We chauffeur, make supper, go to work, make time to exercise, nurture, do laundry, help with homework, weed the garden, comfort sick kids, clean, act as household secretary, change diapers, etc. We have very little spare time.

So, when I need a break from life, I like to pick the right book and snuggle into the couch to read. My time, however, is precious; I expect much from the book I hold in my hands. I expect a good date. Whether the book is jarring or tender, disturbing or inspirational, its truth must reach out from the written page to touch my very heart. If it doesn’t, I feel let down – as if I’m seventeen and just got dropped off at the end of my drive after a blah date. To avoid wasting time, I have developed a system to weed-out the duds.

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time / If you want to spend your limited free time reading a book that's worth your time, then this post is for you! It includes 6 practical steps to weeding out dud.

Before I reveal to you my tried-and-true selection method of how to pick the right book, I must disclose that, although I do borrow from our local library, I much prefer to purchase my own books. Libraries have so many rules. I’d rather own the book and then do what I like with it:

  • mark it up with scribbled notes;
  • highlight;
  • fold page corners;
  • underline; and
  • sprinkle coffee stains over the cover. Okay. The coffee was accidental. Clumsy me.

Once I have consumed my book, I like to tuck it into the shelves of my living room library beside the weathered spines of past relationships – old friends who have offered wise advice and influenced my life. Alas, I cannot lovingly destroy a book that I don’t own. So, back to…

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time / If you want to spend your limited free time reading a book that's worth your time, then this post is for you! It includes 6 practical steps to weeding out dud.

Step One: Purchase a Book that Calls to You

With a bowl of salt-and-vinegar chips and a can of grapefruit club soda by my side, I open my laptop and wander over to my favorite online Christian bookstore. I  avoid wasting time and money by heading straight for the clearance section, looking only at books priced under $1.00 (I’m frugal like that). As I scroll through the list of marked-down treasures, the cover of a book will suddenly speak to me. I click “preview”; I peruse the first chapter; I click “add to cart” (but only if skimming immediately piques my interest); and I continue browsing. When I’m satisfied with the items in my cart, I click “checkout now”. Mm, that feels good.

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time

Step Two: Give Your Book a Home

Two weeks later, Purolator Santa delivers a beautiful package of books to my doorstep. I carry the treasure box inside and set it on the dining table. I unpack one book at a time, placing them into neat piles; then, I carry them to the living room library where I make room for these new members of the family by rearranging the old friends. When the shelves are aesthetically pleasing and every book has a home, I walk away.

At this point, you may be wondering, “Why bother buying the books if you’re not going to read them?”

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time / If you want to spend your limited free time reading a book that's worth your time, then this post is for you! It includes 6 practical steps to weeding out dud.

Step Three: Have Patience

I’m not in a hurry. I know that each book has a time and place. I will glean the valuable knowledge therein – when the time is right.

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time

Step Four: Judge the Book by its Cover

Whenever I’m ready to read a new book, I approach my library and scan the spine covers. Just by looking at their titles, I decide which book will likely line up with my current circumstances and state of mind. Aha! I pick the right book out excitedly, then snuggle into the corner of the living room couch. But not to read.

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time / If you want to spend your limited free time reading a book that's worth your time, then this post is for you! It includes 6 practical steps to weeding out dud.

 

Step Five: Fondle Your Book

This book in my hands may very well change my life – many have – and I want to get a good sense of what lies ahead; I take my time. I caress the front and back covers. I read the author bio. I flip through the pages, noticing section headings and paragraph layouts.

On occasion, after this initial feeling-out phase, I already know I did not pick the right book. In that case, I return it to the shelf for a later time, and I pick another. But, if it does feel right, then I open my book to the first chapter.

How to Pick the Right Book and Avoid Wasting Time / If you want to spend your limited free time reading a book that's worth your time, then this post is for you! It includes 6 practical steps to weeding out dud.

Step Six (the final step): Take Your Book on a Date

Up to this point, my book and I have been merely flirting. We’ve glanced at one another. I’ve invited it to my place, given it a bit of shelf space, played cat-and-mouse, and run my finger down its spine. But now, I’ll take my book to dinner because it’s time to find out if it’s a keeper.

I start reading Chapter One. Within the first few pages, I can conclude one of the following three scenarios:

  1. I am smitten. I will ravage this book, and when I’m through, I’ll be sad to say goodbye. I will honor our time together, however, by giving it a place of permanence on my living room shelf.
  2. I’m entertained, but not thrilled. I already know that after I’ve heard all this book has to say, I will never read it again. It will be sold or passed on.
  3. I’m disappointed. If this book doesn’t woo me by the end of chapter two, I won’t bother finishing. Life is too short. To the dump it goes!

I realize my weeding-out method to pick the right book and avoid wasting time may not work for everyone, but it is my way. Yet, my way terrifies me. What if the miraculous occurs one day, and I publish a book? Someone will pick up my story and run the same test on my words. Will I pass?

A Perfect Date

Several weeks ago, I selected Day by Day With Your Health Coach by Beverly Chesser from my book collection. I wanted to find balance in life, learn to control my late-night chip habit, and discover why I avoid exercise. After reading the introduction, I thought, Yes! This is what I need to get back on track. I opened to Day One. Then, I heard a voice.

“No. Not that one, Sara,” God spoke to my heart. “The other book. The one you re-shelved a year-and-a-half ago because you weren’t ready for it yet.”

I slammed Day By Day shut. “Fine,” I said. My lips were pursed and my eyes squinted as I swapped the books. I hoped God could see that I wasn’t impressed.

For the next few weeks, I poured through the dreaded book. Although it was painful to work through, it was exactly what I needed, and I’m digesting it still – long after I finished the last page.

That’s what a good book does to you. That’s the kind of book I’d like to write one day. I don’t know if I’m able, but I do know that I can:

Keep reading.

Keep writing.

Keep learning from, and emulating the courage of, those who have written before me.

What about you?

Do you love to curl up with a good book?

Then, read what you love! There ain’t no shame in being a mom who loves to read, but don’t waste time reading anything less than what will feed your soul.

Has God given you a desire to write?

Then, get writing! It’s awesome being a mom who loves to write. Start a journal. Start a blog. Write an encouraging note to a friend. Write a letter to a relative who lives far away. Write poetry while you sit outside among God’s twittering birds. Write a book! Don’t waste your time on anything less that what God made you to do.

With love,

Sara Jane Kehler

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