Thursday, May 13, 2010

How we choose books to read

Have you ever read a book (besides the Bible) that actually changed your way of thinking? I have a hard time thinking of examples for myself.

In the school days, there was a cumulative effect. We read a little here and there over many years and gradually it added up to what we know now.

But what about in adult life when we consciously make a choice to read certain books? What criteria do we use?

I came to the realization recently that I primarily choose books whose main point I can agree with. continue/-

That is, I avoid books with whose message I assume I will disagree. This is logical in a way, but it means that I limit my exposure to new ideas since I want to read something that I can nod in agreement with, writing down quotes to use in defending my personal philosophy. Maybe I'm not looking for a challenge.

What does this say about me? That I like to read thoughts which resemble my own? Am I closed to other viewpoints, or simply to other viewpoints which I disapprove of? Are there viewpoints different from mine that I would be able to accept as valid?

Maybe it's similar to only seeking advice from someone who will approve of everything you do. And we do it while reading the Bible too, selecting passages which conveniently address something other than our particular sin.

Or maybe it is just a desire to reinforce what we know and to learn how to apply it more effectively. Someone else's observations and experiences can be that missing link.

I was also wondering about why certain books become "bestsellers." I tend to run away from them, myself. Perhaps I want to rebel and be different, or maybe I just know that I already AM different and probably won't like what the general population enjoys.

I didn't read The Da Vinci Code.

I read a few chapters of the first Harry Potter... good writing, disturbing subject matter.

I read The Purpose-Driven Life... agreed, but didn't learn anything new.

I don't want to read The Shack.

And this brings me back to the original question: Are there any books that really change our lives, or do they only confirm (or contradict) what we already believe?


  1. Books that have had a profound impact on me:

    Tale of Two Cities... hang on - the end makes it all worth it.

    Jane Eyre... encouraged me that God rewards those who do what is right.

    Redeeming Love.... transformed my understanding of what love is.

    Tenant of Wildfell Hall... challenged my thinking on whether to let children figure things out for themselves vs. protect them from the inevitable evils in life they will face. PHENOMENAL BOOK.

    these are just a smattering. overall, i infinitely prefer british lit to american. russian lit isn't bad, either (come to think of it).

    love you!

  2. Books have made me who I am today in many ways. Books set me on my road to missionary service and Russia.

    I was going to enlist in the Army during the Viet Nam war, but reading a book of true stories of the war convinced me not to do so, later I became contentious objector

    I have/am trying to broaden my reading and read books that a few year ago I would not have read.

    I have read some wonderful books which changed some of my views of Russian Orthodoxy. I recently read a book which challenged my views on creationism. I read a book years ago which cause me to understand that different cultures have differing world views and thinking patterns. That has helped me immensely in living in Russia.

    I have been reading differing views of orthopraxy within the world-wide Christian church.

    BTW, I tried to read the DaVinci Code and thought it was poorly written and basically a boring story line. I read The Shack and still don't know what he was saying. I read the Purpose Driven Life and thought "If you have been a believer more than 1 year and you don't know this stuff already, it's time to find another church". I have not read any Harry Potter - not of interest to my, but I wish I received the royalties.

  3. Лиза, ты слишком многого хочешь от книг. Книги не меняют жизнь, они ее воруют :)
    Конечно, кроме Библии.

  4. Андрей, ну как же так? :) Но мне интересно здесь не только книги, a как наш выбор книг отражает наш характер...

    Ruth, I have to say that I hated "Redeeming Love"...LOL. I'm sure I'm in the minority, but it was just too melodramatic for me.

    I do like British literature as well. I had a Dickens phase a few years ago.

    Michael, I do like reading missionary biographies. Russian Orthodoxy would be highly relevant, of course... although, I often find that personal relationships reveal far more than the statistics or media.

  5. I like to read true to life stories, fiction, biographies--yes, I think I have been affected by them and sometimes challenged to grow. I also don't want to read the books you mentioned that you don't want to read--for probably the same reasons. I find that I need/want to guard what goes into my mind--I think it's important for me.


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