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For The Love of Reading
Entering a Bookby Cal Wiebe

I LOVE READING. I love the way reading can open me up to new worlds and simultaneously connect me more deeply to myself. Reading enlightens me, inspires me, connects me with my deeper values, stimulates my imagination, entertains me and satisfies my curiosity about the way the world is. For all the good it does me I do struggle with one temptation. It’s a kind of greed that wants to use reading to inflate my ego rather than to read for the joy of reading and the reasons listed above. In my best self I enjoy reading to learn and to grow and, if possible, to help myself and others around me.

I sometimes think that I would like more time for reading. This desire can come from a number of places. Some of it is pure escapism. It's a rainy day and I don't feel like working and I wish I could just curl up with a good book. But when I think about it more soberly I realize that I have been given a lot of time to read. I read while in college and had seven years while working in a church where I could do a lot of reading. The issue now is to integrate what I have read into my life. Reading another book won't necessarily make me a better person. It may or it may not. It really depends on what I do with the information I have been given.

I can sometimes read in a lazy fashion where I just gather the data of the book but don't really apply it to my life. Working through The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey is a good example of trying to apply a book to my life and living it.

Writing a review of a book is also a good way of deepening my experience of reading. The books that I have reviewed or that I have taught to others are always the books that impact me the most. There is something about sitting with a book and contemplating it that deepens the experience. The same of course is true of my life. If I bring intention to my reflection on my life I get a deeper and richer experience than if I just sleep walk through my life.

I enjoy reading a lot of different genres. I like reading theology and spirituality books because they help me reflect on the nature of my relationship with God. This is something I am always interested in exploring. I like reading mysteries because they engage the mind as I try to figure out who did it. I enjoy reading books like Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People because they help me to live life well.

In the past few years I have even enjoyed reading historical fiction. I think of Caleb Carr's books on 19th century New York and further back, Godric and Brendan by Frederick Buechner. The power of a great storyteller is to get us to enter the world of the story. Whether it's a story told in the past, present or future we are opened up to a new way of seeing the world.

"I have been given a lot of time to read..."I like the way that fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant can open up mythological worlds. These fantasy stories often talk about living life with courage and dignity in the face of difficult odds. I often find that they inspire me to live with the same kind of hope and courage. There's one line in Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Rings that I find particularly inspirational. The fellowship of the Ring has just exited the mines of Moria without Gandalf, their leader and mentor. He has fallen with a giant Balrog into a fiery pit. All assume him dead. Their new leader Aragorn says, "We must do without hope... At least we may yet be avenged. Let us gird ourselves and weep no more! We have a long road and much to do." It's an incredible story of perseverance and determination in the face of a devastating setback. Aragorn knows the company must move forward or lose their lives and so they move out.

I like reading adventure stories and sports biographies for much the same reason. It's inspiring to see people standing up to the obstacles that face them and triumphing. Reading books like this inspires me to face the obstacles I encounter with a similar kind of courage. I remember as a kid going to sleep each night planning a dream of a different adventure that I would face with courage. The issue for me now is not so much to dream up new adventures but to live well the adventure that I have been given.

I think that fundamentally reading makes me more human. It brings out the different aspects of myself and allows me to grow.

book on a plant

Tell us how you find enough time to read.

blue rule"Force yourself to reflect on what you read, paragraph by paragraphy"blue rule

Respond to the author here (responses may be posted)

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