Reading for Depth and Meaning 

 January 5, 2021

By  Oak Norton

Reading for depth

Have you ever read a book more than once? Perhaps you can remember as a child asking your parents to read you the same story over and over. Why do young children want to hear the same story repeated so many times?

One reason is the anticipation they feel knowing what’s going to happen but loving the build up to the page when the climax of the story is reached and that moment of humor or resolution happens like when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes more and he saved Christmas in Whoville.

Discuss: What was everyone’s favorite book as a little child? Can you remember?

Certain books are special for the joy they bring us and others for the perspective they give us. I had a neighbor a few years ago that said he read the book, “Leadership and Self Deception” (by the Arbinger Institute) about once a year to center himself and keep the right attitude toward others.

I have only read a handful of books more than once but those I have were very meaningful to me. One of my favorites is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I’ve read it (or listened to it) multiple times.

George Washington loved the book “Don Quixote” and owned 3 copies of it. One was purchased on the day the U.S. Constitution was signed, perhaps as a gift to himself to relax with his favorite book after a long war and long summer hammering out the document that would guide the United States.

Biographies of great men and women are fantastic for the perspectives they share but also because they are true stories.

Discuss: Is there a meaningful book you have read more than once? Share why it’s so meaningful to you.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher in the mid to late 1800’s wrote:

Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. READ AND RE-READ them, masticate them [grind into a pulp], and digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times, and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them, as the classic proverb puts it, ‘As the dogs drink of Nilus.’ Little learning and much pride come of hasty reading. Books may be piled on the brain till it cannot work. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. They gorge themselves with book-matter, and become mentally dyspeptic [morose or irritable].”

Goal: Think of a great book you’ve read. Decide to re-read it with intention. Make notes as you go and pause to think about the things you are reading. Maybe create a book club with others and get together or share insights from a portion of the book each week via email to help analyze the insights within it. Then get started on it.

Share this post to social media along with a book you’ve read multiple times for meaning and ask others what books they’ve read multiple times. You may find another gem.


Oak Norton

Father of 5 children, husband to 1 amazingly patient woman, entrepreneur, and education advocate.

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