How to read faster, better

“How to read a 500 page book in 30 minutes! And retain 90 percent of what you read!”

That’s the come-on which led some of us to pay for the Evelyn Wood speed-reading course many years back.  It was not money well spent in my judgement, although I did discover how a few people in this world manage to pull that off.  (If your experience with that course was better than mine, congratulations.)

An editor for a Christian news service suggested that, since I’m a constant reader, I should write on how to read faster and better.  Editors, she says, tend to read critically and thus slowly.

I remembered the time another editor asked me for an article on gluttony.  The timing was perfect for I had consumed three large meals that day.  I thought, “Who better than me, who knows the subject so well?”  I wrote the article and it’s still circulating the globe in cyberspace.

Before starting the article, I decided to ask Facebook friends for tips on reading faster, better. The answers were many, some helpful and several delightfully goofy.

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When people write you letters….

I’m a letter-writer.  That should surprise no one since I’m part of the last generation of Americans to have been birthed and brought up on letter-writing. As a child of the 1940s, I remember so well the joy of my mother as she opened letters from her sister and mother on the Alabama farm.  Living in the coal fields of far-off West Virginia, Mama missed her family so much.  Aunt Sis would often include a couple of sticks of Juicy Fruit gum in the envelope.  Mom would tear off a piece and make those two last a week.

When I went off to college, I wrote letters–to my parents and to my girlfriend.

Somewhere in my files now are personal letters to me from Dr. Billy Graham, Cartoonist Charles Schulz, and western author Louis L’Amour.

I’m 81 years old (don’t look it–ha–and certainly don’t feel it) and count it a privilege.  Five minutes ago, I put in the outside mailbox four envelopes: two of them paying bills, one to a minister in Alabama and one to a cousin who is battling cancer.

I believe in letter-writing. But it takes effort.

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I love old books–especially when they speak to today.

As a pastor, when I use a story found while reading a book 50 years or more older, the one thing I am dead sure of is that no one else is using it.  That’s just one of a dozen reasons I love old books.  Following is something I wrote in 2010 after reading one such book.

I confess. I am a bookaholic, what’s called a bibliophile. New books, old books, it doesn’t matter. Turn me loose in a convention hall where the public library is selling off their excess and I’m in heaven for two hours.

I particularly love the older books.

In Cincinnati, I discovered a used bookstore that filled several floors of an ancient downtown building. I could have moved in.

I know where to find the best used bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi, and in Birmingham, Alabama, and never pass either city without a brief stop-in.

But there is reason to this madness. And it’s far more than a nostalgia kick. (There is that too, but it’s not the major thing.)

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