In Praise of Books


It was Stephen King who wrote that books are a uniquely portable magic. About 400 years earlier, the English poet John Milton had also noted: “A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.”

And for those who may scorn old books because of their distance from our own age, Milton has a word also:

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.”

I heartily agree with them. Books truly are magical.

Books unfold to you wisdom and insights beyond what your mind can conceive.
Books suck you into a strange, new world, and leave you the better for it.
Books teach you things you do not know.
Books take you deeper into what you already know.
Books, good books, will change your life.

I have been blessed by books. As an introvert who relishes time alone, books have been my closest companions. They have set a table before me, covered with all sorts of intellectual and spiritual riches I could not have obtained elsewhere. They have given me an outlook on life that sets me positively at odds with my environment. Good books have, as it were, thrown their arms around me and drawn me home.

They are too numerous to mention. I recall Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, The Transforming Vision by Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton, The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Confessions by Augustine, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Built to Last by Jim Collins, The Puritan Hope by Iain Murray, Truth to Tell by Lesslie Newbigin, and so many more.

Books have taken me on a journey with great minds. I have been privileged to sit with the Apostle Paul, walk with Charles Colson, chat with Jim Collins, learn from Peter Drucker, discuss with Jonathan Edwards, and pray with A.W. Tozer. I have sat at the feet of John Calvin, listened to Thomas Watson, critiqued B.B. Warfield, examined ideas with Francis Schaeffer, analyzed religions with Ravi Zacharias, learnt from R. C. Sproul, and studied under N.T. Wright.

They come in different sizes, varying lengths, and are from diverse ages. They span a wide range of genres, from children stories to economic history, from theological works to classic poetry. They are from different eras and various climes. I have so many I have not read, yet I hardly have enough. A book is one item for which you may be forgiven for being greedy. And it is one gift you can give that truly lasts forever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s