David Kidder - The Intellectual Devotional

Many years ago I was going to be living in Japan for almost two years. I wanted to learn not only to speak Japanese but to read and write it too. Hiragana and Katakana were pretty easy to get through, and I had them down well before ever sitting foot in Japan. But learning Kanji looked like a daunting task. I purchased this book a few months before going to Japan and then calculated how many Kanji I would need to learn a week to master all of the basic 2,000 characters. I needed to learn 18 characters a week. Six days a week for 2+ years I spent just a few minutes each day learning 3 Kanji. I wrote them on an index card and glanced at them a few times during the day. One day a week I'd review my 18 characters instead of learning 3 new ones. 110 weeks later I knew 2,000 characters. Even though decades have passed I can still remember many, if not most, of those characters.

What does that story have to do with The Intellectual Devotional? Well, if you want to learn a lot about history, literature, visual arts, science, music, philosophy, and religion this book basically does for the reader what I did with my Kanji characters; it breaks them down into digestible readings that, taken on a daily basis, can enhance your knowledge of these subjects.

The book is 365 pages long and is meant to be read at a pace of one page a day. I read a page a night before going to bed in 2007. Others may prefer a page a day while eating breakfast or maybe a page a day in the bathroom. In any event, I found myself retaining much more when I read only one page a day instead of the few times I fell behind and then spent a day reading a week or two worth to catch up.

Read it with a friend and then have a brief discussion afterwards. That should help even more. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the sequel The Intellectual Devotional: American History: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Converse Confidently about Our Nation's Past.

from the publisher:
Daily Devotionals have long been a favored tool of those looking for a regular dose of spiritual growth. The Intellectual Devotional is a secular compendium in the same tradition -- one year's worth of daily readings that will refresh the spirit, stimulate the mind, and help complete your education. These readings, drawn from different fields of knowledge -- History, Literature, Visual Arts, Science, Music, Philosophy, and Religion -- will keep your mind sharp and refresh your spirit.