Books / Reading / August 3, 2011

Indelible Books

Reading and eating have much in common. Both are for personal nourishment. Ideally both are enjoyable, but often they’re simply done for fuel. Occasionally, though, they’re transcendent.

All of us have eaten numerous tasty meals, but most of these aren’t memorable. Similarly most of us have read quite a few enjoyable books, but how many of those stay with us in memory and effect? But we remember those meals that transcend the eating experience out of sheer deliciousness, utter nastiness, striking oddity, or impeccable timing. So too we remember those delicious, nasty, odd, or timely books.

For “foodies” (whatever those are), these meals are the goal. They search high and low, through 5-star restaurants, Zagat ratings, and dumpy dives. For readers these books SHOULD be the goal. Readers should search for the transcendent book. We ought to be reading for mental and spiritual nourishment constantly, but throughout we should be hunting for the spectacular. Sometimes these are found in the obvious place, but sometimes they are obscure hole-in-the-wall-joints.

Here are 5 books that have been such memorable, delicious meals for me:

The Dragon King Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead
I have no idea if this series of three books is actually good, but it was good for me. My mom read these to me and my brothers as we folded laundry, went on road trips, or prior to bed. It is the first fantasy fiction that gripped me and told hold of my imagination. It was priceless as fertilizer for my love of stories.
 Tell Me a Story by Daniel Taylor
I bought Taylor’s book on a whim at a conference unsuspecting of the significance within. In its pages Taylor explores and expounds upon the power of story to shape lives. I had always loved stories, but this book showed me that stories are FAR more than guilty pleasures and WHY they should be loved.

Letters to Children by C.S. Lewis

I read most of Lewis’s seminal, well-known works before this one. But this one was the first that made Lewis come alive for me. His tenderness and ability to speak a child’s language about everything from fairy tales to tragedy is beautiful Nd touching. Before this book I respected C.S. Lewis; after it  I LIKED him.

Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

In my experience most business/marketing/communication books have kernels of value scattered throughout, some more heavily than others. The Heaths’ book, though, was thematically, prosaically, argumentatively, rhetorically, and practically really good throughout.  It is the best book I have ever read for business and communication. Every person whose job it is to communicate, persuade, and explain is doing themselves a disservice by not reading this book.
Death By Love by Mark Driscoll
There tons of theologically helpful books and there are tons of helpful Christian Living books. I found Death By Love to be a magnificent combination of the two in a beautiful, painful, raw way. It didn’t just look at the pain of sin, it explored it. And it didn’t simply explain the work of Christ on the cross, it injected it into the pain and healed with power.
Which books have left their imprint on your mind and soul? 


Aug 03, 2011

I’m never good at answering that question. I like to that that I read so much that I can’t answer it, nor can I tell you who is my favorite author. But now after reading this, I wonder if the issue isn’t just that I don’t find the spectacular, but that I don’t know how to appreciate them. I plow throw them. Enjoy the experience and move on to the next book. So my question for you is do you re-read books that transcend? Or do you read them differently?

Aug 03, 2011

I suspect that question would be answered differently by different people. I rarely, like almost never, re-read books. I love the search for more good ones more than re-visiting the old, but I’m sure the experience is different for different people. I find that those books that are transcendent to me are the one I don’t really have to re-read because they stick with me, and I’m actually nervous to re-read them because I don’t want to lose that initial “wow” reaction.

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