Do you love reading, but just never seem to have the time?
Or perhaps you’re not a big reader, but really want to tackle that book you were given from your Christian friend or pastor?
We chatted to Matthew Fox, who started the 15 minute reading challenge after being challenge by our CEO, Jonathan Carswell, and found it really helped him to be more deliberate about making time to read.
What is your job?
Geography teacher at a secondary school.
How often did you read before you started the 15 minute challenge?
Not much at all! As a teacher I found term time too busy, so the only reading I ever got done was in the holidays. I was getting through probably only 3–4 books a year.
What prompted you to do it?
Once a term my church has a ‘Book Sunday’ where Jonathan Carswell from 10ofthose.com has visited to sell Christian books. Over the years I have frequently bought books but not read them as fast as I have bought them, leading to a stockpile at home of Christian books waiting to be read! We must keep working at growing spiritually, otherwise we drift. I’ve found Christian books really helpful for this but been frustrated that I do not read as much as I would like. Jonathan Carswell has regularly claimed if you read for 15 minutes a day, you will get through on average 12 books a year. I was keen to test this out and develop a better reading habit. So, at the start of the year I set myself a New Year’s resolution to read 15 minutes a day…
How easy was it to follow?
Prior to the challenge reading was lower down on my daily priorities and life was busy. However, I felt I was spending too much time on my phone each day. So, I aimed to replace 15 minutes of this with 15 minutes of reading. I got up a bit earlier each day, made sure I still did a Quite Time first (I was strict with myself that reading a Christian book would not replace reading God’s word), then spent 10–15 minutes reading a Christian book. Then before I went to sleep I read 5–10 minutes (often a non–Christian book). Then in the holidays/weekends when I had a bit more time I would spend a bit more time reading in the mornings. I ended up reading 33 books in the year!
Once I established a routine and a habit of reading, I quickly discovered I just wanted to read more, which just made it easier as the year went on. One of the most encouraging things I found was I was getting increasingly hungry to read Christian books to help me grow my relationship with Jesus, rather than watch another Netflix episode. Looking back over the year, I managed it virtually every day.
How did you choose the books you read?
I tried to read a variety of Christian books, alternating between denser (and slower!) books and some quicker reads too. I read books on Christian living, doctrine, engaging with issues in our culture, how to serve, biographies, and a range of topics I wanted to think more about.
I did not just read Christian books though. I read some fiction books and some Geography–related books.
Which were your favourites?
I had a couple. Firstly, ‘The Cross of Christ’ by John Stott. I had started this before, but never finished it. It dug deep into explaining the reasons why Jesus had to die, the significance of his death on the cross and how it should shape our lives today. It was a real treasure of a book.
Secondly, ‘What’s best next: how the gospel transforms the way you get things done’ by Matt Perman. It was a superb book for busy Christians on how to organise your life to get things done. There are several books on this topic, but this is extensively thought through and practical. It really helped shape how I now organise my week.
Will you continue this year, and would you recommend this method to others?
Definitely! Rather than setting a target my aim is to try to achieve consistency, so that it’s not a one–off. Far better to read fewer and get more from them than reading lots for the sake of it.
As I have come to see the value of reading Christian books, and the enjoyment I have had from it, I have been recommending it to others. Next year some of my friends and family are giving the ‘15 minutes a day’ challenge a go. Perhaps you could give it a try too?!
Some of the books I read:
· ‘Risk is Right’ (John Piper)
· ‘Prayer‘ (JC Ryle)
· ‘Living in the light: Money, Sex and Power’ (John Piper)
· ‘The first chapters of everything‘ (Alasdair Paine)
· ‘A Better Story‘ (Glynn Harrison)
· ‘The Cross–Centred Life‘ (CJ Mahaney)
· ‘Is God anti–gay?’ (Sam Allberry)
· ‘You Can Change‘ (Tim Chester)
· ‘God and the Transgender Debate‘ (Andrew Walker)
· ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress‘ (John Bunyan)
· ‘Gospel Patrons’ (John Rinehart)
· ‘The Trellis and the Vine‘ (Colin Marshall and Tim Payne)
· ‘The Cross of Christ‘ (John Stott)
· ‘On My Way to Heaven‘ (Mark Ashton)
· ‘The Art of Turning‘ (Kevin DeYoung)
· ‘Thoughts for Young Men‘ (JC Ryle)
If you’d like to join our 15 minute reading challenge just do it! 15 minutes is over 90 hours of reading over a year, just think what you could read!
Don’t worry if you miss a day, but make sure to start again as soon as possible.
Switch between longer, more tricky books, with shorter easier reads.
Tag us when you read and follow the hashtag to meet likeminded readers.