Brothers we are not profFor those of you who love to read, want to read, but don’t have time to read, take this encouraging word from John Piper’s book, Brother’s, We are Not Professionals 

We think we don’t have time to read.  We despair of reading anything spiritually rich and substantial because life seems to be lived in snatches.  One of the most helpful discoveries I have made is how much can be read in disciplined blocks of twenty minutes a day.

Suppose that you read slowly, say about 250 words a minute (as I do).  This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words.  An average book has about four hundred words to a page.  So you can read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes.  Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year.  That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages.  Assume that an average book is 250 pages long.  This means you could read fifteen book like that in one year.

Or take a longer classic like Calvin’s Institutes (fifteen hundred pages in the Westminster edition).  At twenty minutes a day and 250 words a minute and six days a week, you could finish it in twenty-five weeks.  Then Augustine’s City of God and B.B. Warfield’s Inspiration and Authority of the Bible could be finished before the year’s end.

This astonishing discovery freed me from the paralysis of not starting great, mind-shaping, heart-enriching books because I lacked big blocks of time.  It turns out that I don’t need long periods of time in order to read three masterpieces in one year!  I needed twenty minutes a day, six days a week. (66-67)

Don’t despise building in small increments. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in only 20 minutes at a time. And this approach can help you make progress in other disciplines, such as writing.

4 thoughts on “Don't Have Time to Read?

  1. Books are about ideas and new ways of thinking. Of course there’s time to read!

    But I think the time-crunched society is altering some book publishing practices. There definitely seem to be more sub-300 page novels and the like than there used to be.

    Remember the old James A Michener brick busters? They were awesome. They would just freak people out these days.

    Alas for times changing,


  2. D-

    Recently, I’ve been drawn back to this post and decided to start reading Murray’s bio of Edwards for at least 10 minutes a day.

    Piper makes a great point here, and I love his word choice describing books. (great, mind-shaping, heart-enriching). Just looking back over the past 4 years of my life, I can see how much of my growth can be traced through the books I have read.

    Thanks again for your constant encourage to God-honoring reading. Get well soon.

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