This last year I read significantly more than years past. Too much perhaps, but reading has become a sort of hobby for me, an activity away from work that allows me to unwind and relax. I’ve heard that hobbies are important. A few years ago tried to take up fishing but never caught anything and so, whenever someone asked me what my hobby was I’d reply, “casting.” It seemed right to name it what it was.
While I”ve always been a reader, last year I read more books than any previous year. The final count came in at sixty six books. I read widely too: youth fiction, biography, Christian non-fiction, personal development, history and increasingly, those books who find their way into the category of classic literature. A good two thirds of the books I read were audiobooks and I regularly have two to three books going at any one time. I never read more than one book of fiction at a time but I’ll often have several works of non-fiction that I am working through.
C.S. Lewis said, “Those of us who have been true readers all our lives seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our own being which we owe to authors.” When I think about who I’ve become, my own journey of discipleship and how I think about the world this rings true. Books are perhaps the single most constant source of my own personal formation. They’ve shaped me both directly and indirectly. Besides good friends, books continue to fire my imagination, challenge my thinking and shape the narrative, the worldview of my thinking.
Dorothy Sayers said that, “the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves.” There is little in life that allows me to continue to educate myself beyond books. Youtube can give me the information I need to fix a faucet but little more. Books however, and good books for sure, cause the mind to work at the task of cultivation, tilling the soil of the mind and the soul, planting seeds of old ideas made new, waiting in patient anticipation for new growth and, if all goes well, a harvest. Speaking of reading history, John Lewis Gaddis said, “Standing in the past is no sure guide to predicting the future. What it does do, though, is to prepare you for the future by expanding experience, so that you can increase your skills, your stamina, and, if all goes well, your wisdom.”
A good book is more than just paper and ink. It is a vehicle for formation and as Gaddis hopes, for the gaining of wisdom. And so I continue to read. Perhaps not at the same rate as last year but I’ll read on nonetheless.
How about you? What good books have you read lately?