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Book Marketing: A Pastor Reveals What He Looks For in a Book

A church leader in Scotland writes:

Any church leader worth his salt will always have a book on the go. We must never stop thinking. We must never stop learning. We must never stop seeking to grow in our understanding of God’s Word and how to apply it to our specific cultural contexts. It’s cheesy but true – “great leaders are great readers”. The problem comes in discerning what books we ought to be reading and what books we ought to give a miss. Like most, I have my own way of sifting the wheat from the chaff.

Should we read books that we know we agree with before we have even opened the cover? I think so, yes. It certainly doesn’t do any harm to read something that we know will be an encouragement to us and a balm to our souls. Does that mean we shouldn’t read books that we know we will have problems with theologically (ie Rob Bell)? No, not at all. On the contrary, reading books we disagree with helps broaden our perspective (in theory at least – for some it could just strengthen their own presuppositions). But I don’t want to fill up what little time I have reading that which will not be beneficial to my soul. That leaves the big question. How do we know whether a book will be good or not and if it will intellectually challenge us or not?

1. I always look for the publisher straight away. I usually can tell immediately if a book is going to be theologically acceptable to me this way. It doesn’t always guarantee agreement but it does provide a doctrinal safety net.

2. The author is a bit of a giveaway. Can he/she be trusted? What is his/her previous body of work? If he/she is an unknown then who has been prepared to give a recommendation on the sleeve or the inside cover? All helpful indicators (for me).

3. I like to look at the back cover and read the summary to give me an idea of whether or not the topic is of interest to me. Importantly, is it within an area that I can contextualise for my work in Niddrie?

4. Read the chapter headings to get an idea of the flow of the book.

5. Pick out any ‘controversial’ chapters (if there are any) and quickly skim them to pick up the main points of argument.

6. I like to read the first 2 pages of opening chapter. If the book captures my attention within that period then 99% of the time I am inclined to buy it and read it whether I agree with it or not.

7. I hate diagrams. If a book has diagrams then I will definitely skip over these parts. I find them highly irritating and they do nothing to aid my learning experience.

8. Read then re-read. I commit the cardinal sin of marking my books with yellow highlighter. It enables me to capture the essence of a chapter as I read back over it once I have finished the book.

9. I will try to blog about most books I read unless they were absolute stinkers!

10. I will try to find out the opinion of trusted pastors, leaders and/or bloggers if I’ve never heard of a book before. I personally trust Challies implicitly, so if he gives it a good review I’m usually golden.

Continue reading Should All Leaders be Great Readers?

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