How I’m Reading 40 Books This Week

This week, I will read 40 books. How will I do that? Is it some kind of stunt? And what's the point? We'll get to all that. Here are the books I'm reading this week…

By the way, I want to acknowledge Tom Beal as the inspiration of today's post. You should check out what he wrote here, about “How to Read Your Bookshelf.”

One of my primary beliefs is that leaders are readers, and if you want to be a leader, you start by reading. The sad fact is, most people don't read, or don't read very much. Check out these stats…

  • 1/3 of those who graduate high school never read another book.
  • 42% of college grads never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 80 percent of families in the U.S. didn't buy or read a single book last year.

If you're not reading books, yet wonder why you lead an average life, I invite you to ponder those two points (no reading/average life.)

You're smart. You'll figure it out.

How (and Why) I'm Reading These 40 Books

Tom Beal's post gave me a moment of startled recognition. I realized that I read pretty much the same way he does, only I had never systematized it before. Never articulated it as part of my routine (weird, I know.) It's just something I did, and I assumed everyone else did, too.

Let me walk you through the books in the picture, and explain what I do and why I do it. A few caveats:

  • I'm not reading every book word for word. Some of you will consider this cheating. That's your problem. It doesn't bother me.
  • I read the books I choose with purpose. Sometimes that purpose means I will read the book word for word; other times it means I am speed-reading, looking for particular points. And sometimes, I'm looking for references or quotations I can use in my writing.
  • Some weeks I'm pretty lazy, and I'll only read four or five books.

Stack Number One: The Daily Reading Stack

On the left is my daily reading stack. I start each day with the Bible. I generally read one chapter of Proverbs, five chapters of Psalms, and then read as the Spirit leads me in some other part of Scripture. This means that once a month I read through the entire book of Proverbs, the entire book of Psalms, and a significant portion of the Bible (based on what I'm studying or meditating on currently.) For those who care, my two preferred translations (for accuracy) are the New King James Bible, and the English Standard Version.  For daily reading, I'm currently using a treasured edition of the NIV (treasured because I searched high and low to find a single column format Bible for daily reading, and this is it.) I also really enjoy the NLT.

Next, I will read a single chapter in a daily devotional (this month it's Joel Osteen's book Every Day a Friday.) I usually follow that up with some more meaty theological reading: currently, that means a chapter each out of The Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and my friend Frank Viola, and from Richard J Foster's Freedom of Simplicity.

Then, depending on how much time I have on a particular morning, I will read a chapter (or more) of the remaining books in the stack. These are usually business books, but not always. Two books got added this week unexpectedly, as I received gift books by my friends Robert Plank and Lance Tamashiro.

Some people are crying “foul” right now, because I'm not actually reading these complete books this week. I'll grant you, I chose the words for the title of this post because they are a bit provocative. It might have been more accurate to say “I'm reading IN 40 books this week”. But the fact is, I will most likely finish four or five of these books in their entirety this week. I'm a fast reader, even when I'm reading word for word.

Let's move on…

Stack Number Two: The Research Stack

Believe it or not, this is mainly for business. I'm currently producing an online training course for spiritual entrepreneurs called “How to Profit from What You Already Know”.

The course itself won't be available for a while to the public, but I have a private beta group that will start working on the material next week.

The business stuff (how to set up a platform business, which tools to use, auto responders, launches, etc.) is not difficult for me to teach. In fact, my biggest challenge there is to be careful not to teach too much, and thereby make people feel overwhelmed.

But because this course is about spirit-based entrepreneurialism, I'm doing a lot of reading on that topic. Errors have been made in this realm in the past; there have been excesses on both sides. Some have taught that the most spiritual people will be super-rich. Others have taught that only the poor can be truly spiritual. I believe that Jesus himself taught something totally different.

I am reading a lot of other people's opinions about these matters. Especially people that I don't agree with. Those folks are the ones who challenge my thinking, and sharpen the core issues for me. There's a lot at stake here, and I want to be a good steward and get this stuff right.

I'm also writing a book tentatively titled “Permission to Prosper”, and much of this reading will serve as background and reference material for that manuscript.

Some of these books I'm reading very carefully, word for word. Some of them I have read before and am skimming, looking for particular notes and passages. Some of the books I most vehemently disagree with, but that I'm reading anyway, are not in the picture… mainly because I didn't want to expose anyone to some of their poisonous ideas.

To be clear, this middle stack will shrink and grow from week to week, and some of the books will stay in here, as I refer to them time and time again.

Stack Number Three: Brain Research

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I expect God to heal this affliction at any moment. I have seen him heal many other supposedly incurable diseases. Once you've seen God provide a miracle of provision like that, you no longer have an excuse to lose hope.

While I am confident in God's healing power, and that it is always his will to heal, and that my own healing is imminent… in the meantime I have some annoying symptoms I occasionally have to deal with.

I recently decided to dive all the way in, reading and learning everything I can about this progressive, degenerative brain disease.

The reading stack looks short, because many of the books I'm reading in this area are actually on my Kindle. They include all of Dr. Daniel Amen's books, Dr. Perlmutter's books, peer-reviewed research papers by scientists, and quite a few books I'm certain you will have never heard of.

While I respect my neurologist and his staff (I am fortunate to be treated by one of the top movement disorder specialists in the region), I'm often surprised that I know things about current research before he does.

I'm also friends with one of the country's best Naturopathic Physicians (who is also an MD), and we have had some lengthy discussions about Parkinson's and related brain disorders.

I've been quietly working on developing my own experimental protocols to help quiet the more inconvenient neurological symptoms of Parkinson's disease. And now I've begun assembling those into a formal document.

It's mainly for my own benefit, but if it provides me with the relief I seek, I may end up sharing it with other PWP's (Persons With Parkinson's).

I'm not a doctor, of course, but I have more of a vested interest in this than most of them do.

That's My Reading Routine

So that's it. That's how, and why, I'm reading through 40 books this week. Some weeks it will be more, some weeks less, but when you count the books that I speed read and/or skim through, I probably average 20 books a week. To be fair, only three or four of those will I complete Word for Word, start to finish, in a single week.

One final note: I also love fiction, and as part of my newly re-engineered daily routine, I'm currently working my way through Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. Pretty lightweight stuff, but lots of fun, and a unique world Butcher has created for this particular series.

Question: what's your reading routine, and what's on your current bookshelf? Do you have any questions about my reading routine?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at