Friday, August 24, 2007

The writing of many books is endless

I was thinking today about books. I like books. I like they way they look on my shelf (which is why I hate e-books). I like the way the feel in my hands. I even like to read them sometimes, though I do not read nearly enough.

But I was thinking about why there are so many books. Allow me to offer a few suggestions, without in anyway pretending to offer an exegesis on the verse that produced the title of this thread.

So here were go:

1. Things need to be said. Some of the great classics have survived not because they were they only books written, but because they contained some things that needed (and need) to be said (and heard). The classics however did not say it all. There is still more to be said and heard. Thus, the writing of books continues.

2. Things need to be resaid. Classics are great. But they are, by nature, dated in their language, illustrations, sentence structure, etc. There are often verbose and redundant (and they have too many words that same the thing over again). So a good rewriting, or a new book on an old theme is a good thing.

3. New things need to be said. While theology is unchanging, the world is not. Old themes can be addressed to new ideas or applications. Furthermore, God's biblical wisdom did not end with the old dead guys. There are many today who are their equal or superior in that they stand on their shoulders.

4. Some people have too high an opinion of their own stupids, many of which are stupid ideas that should have died a private death in the mind.

5. Some books are good chapters, or good articles. And should stop there. Of course, it's hard to make a living doing that, which bring me to the next point.

6. People need to make money. Let's face it ... book writing is lucractive, particularly if you are good, or if people like to read you (two entirely different things in many cases).

Many books don't really say anything. They just take up space. Skip them. When I buy books, I buy on reviews, recommendations, current interests, summaries, tables of contents, and randomly chosen flips.

I don't feel compelled to read old dead guys. I do read some of them. I rarely (even less now) feel compelled to read complete books, particularly if they don't seem to be going any where or don't address a particular pressing need. Devotional books are the exception usually, although I pick those carefully. In most books. I read selections that seem interesting or applicable to a present course of study, and then put the book away for later.

As an example, last week in preparation for some evangelistic Bible studies I read several chapters on asking good questions to generate discussions. I found it very help. I wonder how helpful the first part and last part of the book are. I will find out one day.

So here's my advice: Choose your books wisely (based both on author and topic), and read to enjoy. Make it a pleasure and a passion, not a chore.

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