The Best People read Books

What a controversial heading! Is it true? I think so. In every sphere of life it is pretty obvious if you think about it. You do not become a leader or expert in any capacity without reading books.

Can you imagine a good politician who does not read books on history or law or sociology? Can you imagine a good parent who has never read a book on child-rearing? A good husband who has never read a book on marriage. A good business person who has never read a book on how to be successful in business. Are there any of us who have never read a book on handling our finances well? I am sure you get the picture.

So what about this new era where bookshops are closing and fewer people are taking the time to read? Can we learn just as well from Youtube, from videos or just by listening to speakers and preachers? I would submit to you that things we read stay with us longer and go deeper. Many of us hear a sermon every Sunday, fifty-two messages per year. Yet, looking back, we would struggle to remember more than two or three. We might struggle to remember last week. But the last book you read probably made a lasting impact on you.

So what about Google? We have access to more information than any other generation in history, by a long shot. Does all this information make us better people? I suggest that most of what we read on the internet is shallow and limited and often for very specific purposes. It is interesting at the time but we can soon become bloated with information which is often not factual and regularly contradictory.

Google gives you facts, books give you wisdom.

Almost nobody recommends books these days. We recommend movies, places to eat, countries to visit, events that are coming up. It used not to be like that. I was encouraged recently when our pastor, Mark Pugh, started recommending books on his blog, as he has also done in the pulpit. If people of influence started talking about the books that they have read, many more people would start reading again.

Is reading only for school children?

When I was a headteacher the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins radically changed my thinking about education, business and church. Our lounge has well over 100 books – these are the ones we have not yet given away. The next 100 blogs could be ‘books that have influenced my life’.

We become what we read.

It follows that the best Christians read their Bible, regularly. Not as part of a religion but because reading the Bible implants wisdom and understanding (among many other things). There are some people who say we should only read the Bible. That, I believe, is a mistake. If that were true why bother to listen to a sermon on the one hand or read the news on the other.

What about reading fiction?

Some people think that fiction is a waste of time. But good, well-written fiction gives us such a deep understanding of the way people think, behave and interact. They teach us how people deal with pain and disappointment, how good relationships benefit us and bad ones ruin us – among many other things. Reading the books of Dickens is amazingly inciteful of the human behaviour we see all around us and the fruits of living good or wicked lives.

Finally – a book recommendation. ‘Pilgrims Progress’ by John Bunyan. Historically the most read book after the Bible. When I was younger everyone knew it and most people had read it. Today I am not so sure. If you were on a desert island and you could take one book but not the Bible, this is the one you would take. I recommend you read it. I have read it several times and even wrote a children’s version.

Spurgeon read Pilgrim’s Progress over 100 times. Most read it more than once.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *