Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Value of Books

Last month, I posed the following question in one of my posts, which I will attempt to answer:

"Do you think reading is a productive way to spend your time, whether it be classics, literature, history, modern novels, spiritual growth books, etc.? Do you think you can grow as an individual and improve your character in this way? Is this a good way to learn? What are some kinds of books/titles you recommend?"

For the past year, one of my goals has been to study a bunch of classics. Unfortunately, due to the vast number of books I want to read, I haven't gotten very far yet. But I have wondered at times if it's really a useful, beneficial way to use my time. Now, I'm glad I've read other things to receive guidance in this. The Rebelution blog has done a number of posts recently on this topic which I recommend.

Overall, my answer is Yes! Yes, there most certainly is value in reading. I've enjoyed and learned much from many books in the above categories. I like historical fiction, modern fiction, spiritual growth, and self-improvement (to a degree). I'm also a fan of fantasy, filled with adventure, suspense, odd creatures, and a heroic men to rescue and love the young maiden, men who are defenders of the weak.

Now, some Christians have a problem with romance of any sort in books, but the way I see it, relationships are a part of life. If you want to leave it completely out in a novel, you're going to have a pretty boring book. You'd have to have all single characters remain single (or be children) and have no descriptions of love or intimacy between married couples. And that's just not real or exciting. Having said that, there is caution that needs to be taken. I avoid books where the relationship is the sole focus or that include a lot of sensual or intimate details. It takes your mind places it shouldn't and takes your focus off of Christ.

I appreciate Christian fiction that has deep spiritual content or lessons on character. I think that if a novel is well-written, it can teach you almost or just as much as the average spiritual growth/self-improvement book. The lessons are weaved into the story in such a way that it doesn't feel like the author is putting the story on hold to preach to you. A lot of classics are also great to learn valuable character lessons, full of rich language and you learn about history while you're at it!

So yes, books are valuable for learning, growing in character and in our faith. Just be careful about what you're reading, how much time you spend, and how it's affecting your life, relationship with God, thought patterns, and worldview. Also, make sure there is balance. Enjoy a variety of books and a variety of activities in your free time. Allow them to challenge you, stretch your faith, and cause you to grow in your Christian life.

Today, I organized all my books and the above picture includes a couple titles from my shelf. Also, I have updated my book list on the side. It was getting rather long so I took some items off. I also added author's names to what was there to make it easier to find items. Happy reading! :)

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