Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to the Bookshelf

This summer I’m returning to a first love: Reading books. As a boy I always had my nose in a book; that continued well into adulthood. But in recent years, my time with books has diminished dramatically. I’m aiming to change that, at least for a few months.

I used to read 30-40 books a year. Now I struggle to get through a dozen. I read a lot via the Internet and e-mail, of course, but it’s not the same. To me, reading a book is similar to nurturing a relationship. It demands commitment and hours of dedicated attention. Holding a book is tangible, organic; the texture of the paper under my fingertips, the rustle of the pages as they turn.

Reading also requires giving something of myself, unlike passively watching a TV program or even browsing Internet sites. In reading a good book, fiction or non-fiction, I eagerly anticipate what a turn of the page might present – new information to learn, a new adventure to experience. Finishing the last page is like bidding farewell to a good friend.

One reason for my recaptured zeal is that my favorite TV shows are on hiatus. “House,” “Bones,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Mentalist” are taking a break, a respite they and I both need. I have temporarily escaped TV’s gravitational field.

There is no biblical mandate to read books, although we are exhorted to study and meditate on God’s Word. But the apostle Paul indicates he was an avid reader, writing in 2 Timothy 4:13, “When you come, bring…my scrolls, especially the parchments.”

I’m off to a good start. Already I have finished two books and am well into two others. More volumes near my desk seem to beg, “Read me!” I intend to appease some of them during the next weeks.

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