Why I am reading.

Marilyn Monroe was a voracious reader.

Today’s the day after Christmas.

Some people don’t like the 26th, because it signifies the end of the festivities, but I do. It was a great celebration, we spent a lot of time with family, and there was much generosity. It was all fun. But now the house is quiet, leftovers are in the fridge, and the tree is a fire hazard. And I’ve gotten out some books. (Yes, I am the bookish type.)

You see, about a month ago there was an interesting post on The Rebelution called “Think Hard Things.” A few lines especially stood out to me.

One of our favorite quotes is by Charles Spurgeon on reading: “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.”

That’s not just true for people who have never authored a book, published a paper, or delivered a sermon, that’s true for everyone. The well of insight dries up quickly when it is not replenished by life experience, by reading, and by the Word.

And I have to agree. I’ve discovered on my own that when I don’t read insight, I don’t write insight. When I don’t listen to insight, I don’t share insight. And when I lack insight, my interactions with other people do not impart insight — they are simply interactions. It’s not a wise way to live.

I am not saying that insight only comes from books and conferences. Insight also comes from nature, from experience, and from observation. But a well is not replenished through chance encounters. If you want to build a strong Christian worldview, comprehend important philosophies, and wisely approach life situations, you have to be deliberate. You have to read solid writing. (Meyers and Sparks aren’t going to cut it.)

I believe that it’s important for readers to be well-rounded and challenge themselves. During the summer, I heard a lecture in which the speaker encouraged young adults to read hard books and venture into topics that require thought. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but this year I discovered that it is rewarding to finish books that demand concentration and focus. But in addition to lengthy prose, there is also much value in poetry and essays, two of my favorite types of writing. A solid essay is worth ten lesser books. (If you’re interested in essays, I recommend Andree Seu, whose work appears in World Magazine.)

It can be overwhelming to think about how much I should read that I haven’t, but one thing at a time. Right now, I am reading “Total Truth” by Nancy Pearcey after hearing many glowing reviews. So far, it is excellent.

If you’ve cracked some books for winter break, I’d love to hear what they are. Any recommendations?

Happy reading.

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5 thoughts on “Why I am reading.

  1. I am in the middle of an old book called “The Hidden Hand.” (I don’t know how to put a title in italics for these comments.) My mom loved it. She said it is the best book she has ever read, and I am starting to agree with her. The book is a fictional story written in 1859 by E.D.E.N. Southworth. It is about five hundred pages long, and it is amazing. The story is captivating and I really don’t want to put it down. I highly, highly recommend it. Well, I am going back to my book…

  2. My sister & I read a really good book together this summer by Harold Bell Wright. It was called “That Printer of Udell’s.” (It is known as Ronald Reagan’s favorite.) We really enjoyed reading it. I think you would too!

    As far as this winter goes, I got a lot of new books for Christmas; one by Hiram Bingham –the ‘real’ Indiana Jones [really…Indy was modeled after Hiram Bingham]– titled “The Lost City of the Incas,” which I’m really looking forward to reading! :-D

  3. again- i’m in full agreement with you! i just had a similar conversation on this topic last night.
    one of my favorites is Walden by Henry David Thoreau. i love his perspective, and his great care taken in observation and thought. he really saw the world through different eyes.
    another great book i’m reading right now is The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer- it’s a good challenge to the heart. his life is quite an example of a lived-out faith.
    reading great thinkers really increases my own thoughtfulness!!

  4. The most interesting book I read in the past year was “The Devil in the White City”, which is a true story with some fictional embellishments (I believe) about the planning and implementation of the Chicago World’s Fair around the turn of the last century (wish I could remember the year but I’m horrible with numbers) and a parallel account of a serial killer operating down the road. Then, for inspiration as well as some suspense, a novel by Chris Fabry called “Almost Heaven”, based on a real person who ran a Christian radio station in impoverished West Virginia.

    Love to get book recommendations, and will look into the others posted here!

  5. A few months ago I read “Total Truth” and I thought it was great. The most revealing part of the book was the subtitle, “Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity.”

    I’m glad to hear that your reading it, it is one of my favorite books on Christian Worldview.

    p.s. I’m one those bookish people, too. I love reading :)

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