Reading Is Good, Even If You Forget It

The full title should be that reading is good for you, even if you don’t remember most or all of what you read.

I was reading a blog post on why it’s beneficial to learn greek and Hebrew even if you lose it. I went through beginning Greek and am now purposely not ‘keeping it’. I would rather spend my time memorizing Scripture instead of trying to keep up my Greek vocabulary. However, I learned enough to basically know what commentators are talking about when they write about Greek, and I can read a commentary on the Greek of a book like Colossians, which is very helpful.

But back to reading–there is a quote below from the article that reminds me of how I feel about reading. And you get to read about it (yay). I’ve always felt that when reading Christian books, even if I don’t take notes and/or remember what I read, it still influences me. When things are repeated, they get learned. And most of all, reading for me is a great way to worship God.

I only like to read books that are going to affect my life with God directly in some way. All are subjects that cause me to wonder, ponder, learn and grow closer to God or show me my sin or something about myself God would like to point out. And if I forget it, part of what I read is stuck in my brain and spirit, and I know for sure that God will and has used it as he would like. He can also call it back to mind (John 14:26).

Reading has become a very important part of my life. The Bible always gets read every day; I made a commitment to that. But when I don’t also read outside of the Bible, I miss it because it’s spiritually therapeutic, at the risk of sounding like I have a self-help gospel complex. I can’t imagine not reading the Bible.

The article linked above included this quote.

Most of what is shaping you in the course of your reading, you will not be able to remember. The most formative years of my life were the first five, and if those years were to be evaluated on the basis of my ability to pass a test on them, the conclusion would be that nothing important happened then, which would be false. The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them.

–Douglas Wilson

Part of the reason I’ve been blogging less is because I don’t want to give up more of my reading time. I’m trying to find a balance.

One other thing I’m thinking about if you’re still reading this is how much note-taking I should do. It takes more time and causes less reading, but the things written above doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to retain more of what we read. Some people retain more than others, and for me, I remember a lot of some books and others, I can hardly remember the title. I started using Evernote for that purpose, but I’ve purposely tried backing off on that a little. I’m always saving quotes though. If you take notes (or don’t), I’m always open for feedback.

Also see:
What I’ve Been Reading–Goodreads

3 Responses to “Reading Is Good, Even If You Forget It”


  1. 1 Scott Modrall

    I follow your postings even if I do not comment very often. I have been voraciously reading books dealing with grasping the grand storyline of the Bible for almost a year now. I have focused on the Old Testament. Recently I bumped into a book that I thought you might be interested in checking out. Title: The Presence Of God, by Ryan Lister. I have thumbed through the book and it looks very interesting. I am unfamiliar with Ryan Lister, but familiar with the scholars recommending it. The only immediate negative with the book is the tiny type size of the notes at the bottom of the pages. I will need reading glasses for those end notes, and there are lots of them! The book is both scholarly and pastoral. I think it will be inspiring. Check it out on Amazon. I think it will deepen my understanding of scripture’s Grand Storyline as well as my relationship with God, and knowing His heart.

  2. 2 Mike Jacob

    I’m thinking that if reading God’s Word, and about God’s Word is worshipful, so wouldn’t be writing about God’s Word, and systematically cataloguing what one has learned?
    I wouldn’t get too hung up over the “balance” between these two activities, as they are both part of a much broader effort to get to know the Lord.
    In order to breathe effectively, one must exhale as well as inhale.

  3. 3 Scripture Zealot

    Scott, that’s the type of book I’m looking for right now. I’m calling this ‘the year of Scripture’. I often have years where I concentrate on certain things, often lasting more than one year. So far this year I’ve read Knowing Scripture by Sproul. In the past I’ve also read How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible (title?), How To Read The Bible for All Its Worth, Ryken’s Bible Handbook and a few others that overlap. Thank you very much for the suggestion. I want to delve more into books like that.

    Mike, when you say writing, are you thinking about taking notes or actual writing like a blog post or a blog? In any case, I would think that would certainly qualify, although I’m not much of a writer whether is quantity or quality. As far as notes, I suppose writing down the bigger things that affected me would be good and not worry about the rest, or the balance as you wrote.

    Thank you for reading and especially for replying.
    Jeff

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