True confession time! I have two addictions –
Chocolate — preferably European, with nuts, if you’re planning on a gift ; – )
And books— fiction, nonfiction, puzzle, coloring; just about everything (except science fiction and horror – yuck!).
If there’s extra money in my pocket, it is likely to be spent on one of these two things. And when it comes to books, I have been known to spend money that wasn’t extra. (Oops.)
Both these addictions started so early that I can’t remember being without them. The chocolate probably came from Germany, where I was born and celebrated my first two Christmases.
The books came from my Mom, who read a lot, and read to us when we were little, and probably personally filled two libraries with the books she gave away over the years.
Many people think I waste too much time on both these things, even though I have become efficient at combining them, so as not to lose any reading time.
But I have learned a lot from books! Not only how to spell and how to write, but also other stuff:
From fairy tales I learned: we all live happily ever after; in the end, good triumphs and evil loses; that Cinderella went to the ball three nights, wearing a different gorgeous dress each time (clothes are important!); and that good things can come to you even if people mistreat you or you’re not beautiful or rich (but you must be kind!); good wins, evil loses.
From children’s adventure books, I learned: no matter what your age, if you use your brain, and don’t panic, you can do it; we all need friends to help us from time to time; the world is full of wonderful things and places to explore, people to help, and mysteries to solve; good wins, evil loses.
From westerns, I learned: handle the hard stuff; stand up for what’s right; respect women; fight your own battles; protect the weak; might does not make right; if good people do nothing, evil triumphs, so do something; good wins, evil loses.
From mysteries, I learned: be sure your sin will find you out; evil people are so arrogant that inevitably they go too far and expose themselves (just like Satan getting Jesus onto the cross – BIG mistake, dude!!); everybody has something to hide because we’re all sinners; murder doesn’t pay, neither does any other kind of crime; yet again, good wins, evil loses.
From romances, I learned: yes, I am like most women! We all want to be loved, to feel secure, to be the most important thing/person in someone’s life; that relationships are the most important area of a woman’s life; that a woman can be strong, yet like having a man to lean on now and then (it’s not so good the other way around, though); good triumphs, evil gets its just comeuppance; and, yes, sex (good sex, anyway) takes longer than 10 minutes for a woman.
In and around all those genres, I read a lot of nonfiction, too, which covers so many topics it can’t really be categorized. A couple stand out, though.
I went through a period where I read a lot of history. From that I learned:
There’s nothing new under the sun; morals and manners change, culture may be different, but humans are still humans – sinful, broken, longing for something they don’t know/can’t find; heart motivations don’t change from century to century, culture to culture, continent to continent – we all want to be loved and accepted unconditionally; there are lots of ways humans try to achieve/receive their heart goals, but most of them are wrong and destructive; women have been mistreated in every age and every culture on the planet; in real life, good doesn’t win that often, and evil wins waaayyy too much.
Another category that stands out is self-help stuff. I read a lot of ‘Christian’ self-help books over the years – trying to fix my marriage, trying to fix myself, trying to understand either or both of those things. What I learned from self-help books is this: you can read all the books you want, but until God Himself gives you a personal revelation – makes it real to you – nothing will work. And when He does, through whatever means, then the change is immediate, impossible to ignore, and the fruit lasts.
When Father God reveals something to you, it might be through one of those ’Christian’ self-help books, but it’s just as likely to be through something else – a song on the radio, a TV show, something you overhear at the store. He’s revealed truth to me through all those things, but mostly through books. The books that have shown me truth, and have changed my views of God, myself, life and the world, include books from most of the genres and categories I’ve read.
The books in and of themselves aren’t important, rather what Father God showed me through them is: the western that He used to show me His unfailing love and care for me, even when I was avoiding Him; the romances where the man actually cared more about the woman than himself; the fairy tales where love sets the prince or princess free; the historical accounts of normal people like me, who listened to God and impacted those around them, or even the whole world; good Christian fiction that shares truth in a way unparalleled except in the Bible — Madeleine L’Engle, Hannah Hurnard, C.S. Lewis. I can’t even begin to enumerate all the truth I’ve found in Narnia; there’s so much in there that I still reread them now and then, finding new stuff every time.
I went into all this for two reasons: I wanted to warn you that since I’ve been reading for almost 50 years, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of quotes or ideas from other writers in this blog. We are what we read! And I’ve read a lot!
Second, “the truth is out there!” you’ll find little snippets of it in the most likely and unlikely places. So don’t discount something that speaks truth to you, just because it’s not ‘Christian’. Allow Him to reveal Himself and His truth to you in whatever way He chooses. After all, He knows you, and knows what will make sense, strike a chord, in your heart and mind. (That doesn’t mean you should get a subscription to Playboy/girl, or sign up for all those cable channels or websites of filth! remember – you are what you read/watch. and you may be very sure your sin will find you out! even if the detective doesn’t find the clue, your life will show it in how you treat yourself and others!)
Conversely, don’t accept everything you hear/read that’s ‘Christian’ just because it’s ‘Christian’. The best lie starts with the truth and twists it half a notch. And Satan saves his most damaging lies for the pulpit, not the porn site.
May you be blessed with truth from Him, through whatever medium He chooses, knowing that ‘He who began a good work in you will finish it’. (
And check out my page of Recommended Reading.)
A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. (C.S. Lewis)
P.S. some of you are snarling rude things under your breath because I read romances. Well, get over it. This is such a huge market because it speaks to the fundamental needs of women. No man ever will be able to meet every heart need of any woman, because some of those needs belong only to God. Instead of condemning women who read this type of fiction, introduce them to their Creator, who can meet every one of their needs, including giving them a good husband.
And yes, I read books that have explicit love scenes. When I first started reading romances, I avoided those, feeling like a voyeur. But then, during my recovery process after the divorce, I did read some of them. This was a life-changing experience for me, as the MIHM (man I had married) had convinced me that I was not a normal woman. But romances told me differently! I got a lot of healing from those books! These days, I skip the explicit parts, having learned that there’s no point in thinking about something that I can’t have, and still feeling that it’s too voyeuristic.
If ‘Christian’ romances ever reach the caliber of writing, plot and characterization of non-Christian writers, I’ll gladly give up the latter, and the explicit sex scenes.
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