Updated: Feb 4
My purpose in this post is to talk about reading. I would describe myself as "Bookish" because I love books and discovering what they have to say. But why would I be motivated to spend time with a book? And why do I think you should too? I want to reflect and begin to answer with my experience. I say begin to answer, because I am no expert! If you have read the about page, I hope it is clear that this blog is for my own personal growth and reflection as much as anything else. Posting my thoughts here helps me to think out loud and, I hope, will instigate more conversation with you as a result.
That is what I intend for every post—to reflect personally and share relationally. And for this post specifically, here are some thoughts on the value of reading, and some basic tools to get you started on the craft.
Reading is fun! At least for me it is. I believe the reason it is fun, is because I have found the lane of genre and content I enjoy. History, theology, and biographies tend to intrigue me, so they make up the most of my small library. I especially love to read about the Renaissance and Reformation period in history, Christian theology, and biographies of Christians. World War Two and Germany are both interests of mine as well.
All that to say, reading is fun once you find a book with interesting content relayed in a way you enjoy. The content is what intrigues you (for me, Christianity, the Reformation, World War Two, etc.), and the relaying of the message is genre (for me, History, Theology, Biography, etc.). I am confident that any person can enjoy reading if they do the work to find what interests them.
There are books about everything under the sun. Whatever content you may enjoy will absolutely have at the very least one book related to your interest. Do some searching! One suggestion would be to think of what your hobbies are, and do a google search on “Best books on [insert personal hobby]”. Look for books about things that are already important to you, and I am sure you will enjoy it! See what genres intrigue you too, and start there.
If you are someone who would not describe yourself as a reader, I would first ask you why you are reading this sentence (with a smile!), but say it is probably true that some just don’t enjoy reading as much—and that’s okay. If you are here and reading this, I would venture to say that, even though you may have difficulty reading, there is some desire in you to pick up a book and make your way through it. I say give it a try!
Reading is a thoughtful pastime. In a world with many mind numbing distractions, choosing to do something with the mind is not the norm. It is so much easier to pass time un-thoughtfully on screens these days. Reading is a wiser alternative because it involves thinking! Reading done rightly is thinking. And thinking helps us to make good choices, speak to others coherently, and decide what matters most in life. To do these things well we need to be able to think well. To that end, books are worthy servants.
Reading leads to learning. You have to already believe that learning is worthwhile for this point to be convincing to you. But the reader is opened up to ideas, facts, history, people, and conversation that he or she would otherwise not be introduced to. In this way, reading is a companion to learning.
Reading is a conversation. A real person wrote the book you have in your hands. These words came from their own mind. The words and stories put on the page are an overflow of who the author is and what they have decided to say. By responding to the author in thoughtful reflection, written notes on a page, or discussing the idea with friend, a conversation ensues. To read is to hear the author speak and to respond in any way is to engage in conversation with their thoughts. Truly, reading takes you into the mind of another person, a person you would otherwise have never known. Reading the same author in their various works can even develop what feels like a friendship!
Reading is equipping. To read the right material is to be equipped for life. Certainly, there are many, like myself, who learn well by doing things better than by reading. Even then, reading can be preparatory for doing. It should be. I would argue that any reading that does not lead to some kind of doing isn’t as helpful as it could be. As I am thinking, I realize that I tend to be a “thinker” but I see that I learn better at times by doing. This distinction within myself between thinking and doing is one of the most frustrating things to me. I want to think and think and think, and read and read and read, but it takes a lot of effort for me to get up and do.
It should not be this way. Thinking and doing should go hand in hand—they find their mesh in reading. From the big and abstract ideas all the way down to the small and practical, reading leads to a certain kind of thinking that equips you to do something; to see the world differently or more accurately, to live in a better way toward God and others, to love your spouse well, to parent your children in a healthier way, to change the car tire, to troubleshoot the issues with your computer, to write a paper, prepare a meal or balance the budget. To read well is to think and to do.
These are the first points that come to mind when I think about why I am so "bookish". If you enjoy reading too, would you add anything? Why do you read?