Which brings up a good question asked by 'Dinsdale' in my last post.
How do you mix in other books? Your other reading? Do you have a plan?-DinsdaleO. K. So it was three questions, yea, two are the same. I will attempt to answer them now.
How do you mix in other books? Your other reading? I think we need a mixture of old and new authors. I certainly would not want to follow all new authors as many in the church-at-large are fond of doing. The reason for this is very simple. 'If it's new, it's probably not true. If it's true, it's probably not new.' I think we need a mixture of the Church Fathers, Reformers, Puritans, in addition to modern authors, like MacArthur, Piper, and Sproul. But the question really has to do with the 'how they are mixed' with Bible Study and not the 'who'.
Your Bible Study will probably determine what you read to a large extent by virtue of the topics encountered in Scripture. I wouldn't try to arrange them so much in that way, but read what you are interested in. Chances are, you will be interested in what you are studying. Maybe not. It would be good to read something complimentary, but it isn't necessary. That's all I have to say about that, but since I'm writing this post will add some more thoughts on a slightly different note.
Who should I read? I read for enjoyment, primarily. I want to read something that is good literature and interesting.
I will probably be crucified for saying this, but I don't enjoy reading John Owen. I do like reading Scougal, Bunyan, and Watson. If you are a beginner in Puritan literature, read Bunyan. If you want to read the Church Fathers, start with Irenaus or Polycarp, and move on to Ignatius and then start at the beginning, reading straight through. Take note of the introductory remarks as the editors can tell you exactly how much historical weight and veracity you can place on the writings.
As for the Reformers, Luther's Sermons and Tabletalk are a good starting point.
In modern Christianity there are several good authors available. Jerry Bridges and C. J. Mahaney are good and interesting authors. R. C. Sproul has a way of bringing high truths down to my level. Piper, MacArthur, and Horton write good books for everyone.
Do you have a plan? Getting back to Dinsdale's question, I have no plan. However, I do have a goal that I rarely meet. This goal is one suggested to me by my brother; one 100-200 page book a week + one 500 page book a month.
I rarely meet this goal, but it's a good standard to shoot for. For instance, I'm in my second month on volume 1 of Spurgeon's Autobiography. I should've finished it last month and started volume 2 this month, but things came up, plus it's too good to just read over.
I usually end up reading one book every two weeks as well.
I would also recommend having certain books on a regular rotation. I read Desiring God (Piper), The Holiness of God (Sproul), and Grace Abounding (Bunyan) each once every year or so.
Finally, don't be in a hurry to read everything that your favorite author puts out. In other words, keep a good mixture of old and new. Don't put John Owen or Justin Martyr (two of my least favorite old people) aside once you have started reading them just to get to John Piper (my favorite 'new' person) when his newest book comes out. If the book that has just come out is good, it will be around for a while. You never know when you've read your last Puritan, though.