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On Reading Books

book with Kindle
On Reading Books by Regan Read

For my 70th birthday I got a Kindle, something quite new and different for me. It’s amazing and thoughtful; there are 1000’s of books at one’s fingertips. It’s so lightweight and compact that it’s entirely portable. I shall never again be stuck somewhere without something to read.

Strangely, this wonderful gift caused me to do some serious reflection on something very dear to me-books. I grew up in homes surrounded by books of every kind. Both my parents were serious readers; I looked forward to going to the library to get…more books! The Kindle is ingenious, and I will make great use of it, but there’s nothing to compare with books, at least in my book.

Some think of books as relics of a bygone era, bound for obsolescence, but I object! The feel of a book in your hands, turning the pages, now that’s sublime. A new book has a smell rivaling that “new car” smell. And leather binding really seals the deal for me. Or what about holding the book of a loved one, and seeing all their notes and observations, or just cherishing the thoughts of someone no longer here? That’s a privilege not for everyone but the very blessed.

Not everyone gets the joy of having a book, but today it’s much taken for granted. When people misuse or abuse books, it makes me a little sad. They just don’t understand the treasure they possess. When kids dog ear book pages, it’s a bit outrageous. And when the book is turned upside down to hold a place, well, that’s simply cruel and unusual punishment. Sometimes I will say, “Can’t you hear that? It’s your book crying because you are breaking its spine.” Okay, so that’s a little weird. Tear a book’s pages? Write in it? Leave it on the ground and step on it? Perish the thought!

Many years ago Rich taught a class on how to read a book. You might think that’s rather obvious, but I’m just sorry that most of you missed it. First, look it over. Then, read the table of contents. Anticipate what you are about to discover. Thumb through the pages, carefully, of course. Scan for meaning. But most important of all, “skim the cream.” Anyone can critique a book, pick out its flaws and deficiencies, but it takes discipline to purposefully choose to find what is good. Sometimes there’s more chaff than wheat, but there may always be a nugget you might have otherwise overlooked.This lesson will serve you well in life; seek what is good, right, and true, and you will more likely encounter it.

We all know that books are full of words, and we know that Jesus was the Word from the beginning, so we must never take words, nor books lightly. From them we can discern truth from falsehood. A discerning reader can find truth in myriad places. After all, our Lord was a consummate storyteller, and the ultimate truth teller. In fact, He is the Truth, and the Way, and the Life. And of course, we have The Book, the word which is sharper than any two-edged sword. Many have given their life for it, dedicated their lives to translating it, taken it to the ends of the earth. Do not make theirs a vain sacrifice.

In many a doomsday scenario, there is no electricity, power source, civilization. Only darkness. Once there were Dark Ages, where it seemed light, and truth, and wisdom, and culture, and history, and words, and knowledge were in danger of extinction. Who were the keepers of these treasures? The dedicated God fearers, who preserved for future generations the words of life and light. Who will keep them for those who come behind us? There is yet beauty to behold in the pages of a book, to edify, instruct, delight and bring joy to others. But today we have books. Let’s treasure them.

If I were a poet, I’d write an ode to the glory of books, or if I were a musician, I could write a symphony. But for today, I will let this small tribute to one of my favorite things suffice. And I will try to keep my own counsel, never again to take a good book, or The Good Book for granted. May it be so.

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