Wednesday, November 16, 2011
"The reading of all good books is like a conversation with all the finest men of past centuries." - Rene Descartes
I've always loved to read. In books, I found adventure and romance in worlds of covered wagons, ships, and daring mountain journeys. At various times in my childhood I wanted to be a sailor, a cowboy, and a pioneer (did I mention that I was a bit of a tomboy?).
Most of the books I read as a child were wholesome, innocent, and published before 1950. There were children's biographies of famous people (who else can say they read a biography of JCPenney before the age of 10?), historical fiction, and adventure. Anne of Green Gables remains my all time favorite and I've traveled the romantic red roads of Prince Edward Island in the company 'kindred spirits' at least a half a dozen times.
I still love those books. I can still sit and read a well-written children's book and thoroughly enjoy it. (Don't get me started on some of the books out there marketed as children's books that are really full of simplistic writing and models of bad attitudes and character! )
As a got to be a teen, I learned to appreciate the works of Charles Dickens and still enjoy his books. A few times a year, I'll say "I've been feeling like Dickens lately" and will delve into Great Expectations or David Copperfield from the little matching collection that my dear husband bought me on our first Christmas together.
I still love adventure books and old books. We got a Kindle last year and I discovered one of the benefits of loving old books. Most of them are free as ebooks! I think I've only bought one book for the Kindle, but have read dozens of free ones. A recent discovery are the crazy adventures written by Henry Rider Haggard. You can't put them down. Most of them involve finding a lost race of people deep in the heart of Africa and the hero is always about to be crushed by an elephant or burned at the stake (don't worry, he generally gets saved in the nick of time). Another favorite are the works of G. A. Henty who wrote dozens of historical fiction books covering everything from ancient Egypt to the American Civil War.
Nowadays, I intersperse more useful reading with my adventure stories. In fact, I've usually got several books going at a time. That way I can reach for whichever I'm in the mood for. Lately, I've been reading some parenting books that have proved informative, as well as some Christian books like "Pursuit of God" by A.W. Tozer (an author I highly recommend!).
I find that reading nonfiction books keeps my mind busy and gives me lots of information to chew on. For instance, would it ever occur to me otherwise that grace should be foundational to a philosophy of parenting? I'm not that creative. I need a book to instill new ideas in my mind, help me order my thoughts, and give me things to think about and talk about.
As Christians, I think we have a responsibility to keep learning. We should not be spinning our wheels or get stuck in a rut for long (wow, both those metaphors involve vehicles, that's interesting...but I digress). We've got minds and we're meant to use them. New ideas are good for us. If we don't agree with them at least we are aware of them and have thought them though. If we do agree with them...well, same thing! You might not ever have become aware that certain thoughts or philosophies, many of which under gird your daily life, even existed without reading. Knowing they are out there and thinking them through will help you speak intelligently and will help you think and act in a more orderly manner.
I challenge you to pick up a good book and get those brain gears turning!