Why Reading Is So Important

Does it matter that you read? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Right now, I’m a bit ticked off. Why? I get up this morning and I’m just browsing Facebook and one of the first stories that I see is this one about a librarian who I immediately find disgraceful. Those interested can read the story here.

Basically, there’s a boy who has won the reading contest every year and she wants him to step aside and is even thinking of turning the contest, which it is, into a pull a winner out of a hat deal. Many kids are doing the bare minimum of reading just to attend a party. Tyler, the boy who is winning every year, is not.

I have been an avid reader all my life. Growing up, my great love was mysteries. I went to the library and checked out and read all the Hardy Boys books that I could find. Then, having read those, I actually went and read Nancy Drew. Heck. Who cares if the hero is a female? It’s a mystery. My mother read Mary Higgins Clark and I started reading all the books of hers that I could.

And honestly, I wish I’d done more. I had no particular subject matter driving me when I was younger or I would have likely read more.

Today, I study apologetics and I find reading to be immensely valuable. I had read the whole Bible by the time I was in 7th grade and from them on and still today, I start right over and go through the whole book again when I’m done. I can easily say the Bible is the book I have read more than any other.

When I first started into apologetics, my parents started to panic some. Why? Because I came home from the bookstore constantly with more books. It’s not that they complained about me reading. Of course not! Their concern was “How will we have room for all of these books?” In fact, when I got married, I had to share living space with someone and so I had to part with several books. Right now, the bookshelves in here are still full and I’m having to pile books on top and still more are coming in. Allie really keeps hoping I’ll get most of the books on the Kindle instead.

How could I not encourage reading?

What are the benefits of reading?

The more you read, the less likely you’ll be caught flat-footed. Learn the subject matter you want to know well and read on it. You’re not going to be able to be a master of everything. That’s fine. Choose what you want to be proficient in and go for that area. Enjoy it to the best of your ability and read in it. That way, you will know the facts the best in the area that you’re reading in and be able to explain why you believe what you believe. (This doesn’t apply to just Christians. I’d encourage this for everyone)

Read both sides of the argument. It’s easy to know your worldview is right when you read one side. It’s in fact easier to know it when you read both sides. Why? Because you yourself have witnessed the comparison and allowed your worldview to be tested by the best that is out there. Of course, for this, I encourage reading only the best books that you can by those who you know have done their homework.

Also, when you read, you hear more in your own mind than your own thoughts. Now none of us I suspect have mastered this yet, but I know when I’m going through a tough time, I don’t just have the tape recorder of my own head going. I have thoughts from several other sources. I have Scripture. I have philosophers I have read. I have great ideas of scholarship. I have wisdom from numerous places stored in my memory based on the things that I have read. When I want to know my Christianity is true, I don’t ever go and try to find a subjective feeling. I think on the things that I have read and examine them and see if I have missed anything.

Furthermore, I think this is biblical. We are to be informed in our faith and wise. Now to be sure, not everyone is meant to be a scholarly type. Not everyone will sit and read continuously. That’s okay. At least have something that you’re always going through even if you’re just reading a few pages a night before you go to bed.

Read something also that sparks your attention. Some books are bad. Some books are just boring. Not everyone is an engaging writer. If the book you’re reading is not a good book and you have no personal obligation to read it, then don’t bother.

Also, fiction can be highly beneficial. I don’t read a lot of it, but you can still get something good out of it. I still like to read Mary Higgins Clark. If someone dropped a Hardy Boys on my doorstep, I’d probably read it. I have also read all the Monk mystery novels and when Smallville was out, yep. I read those too.

You could consider the fictional classics. Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” is actually written from a Christian worldview. There’s something to get you started talking to fans of Twilight. You could read the Greek plays, Aesop’s fables, or Grimm’s fairy tales. (Which I also understand to be from a Christian worldview) Of course, many of us already know about classics like the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.

I would add one caveat. Still make sure you take time for your own family. Even Ecclesiastes says too much study will make you tired. There is a time for play. I still do some gaming, though usually while listening to a podcast to get the most out of my time. I also know that if Allie really wants to do something with me, that’s the time to put the book away. I still make the time. For instance, when she’s gone to sleep, I will often get up and go into the living room and just mind my own self getting in some late night reading.

The librarian in the above story I consider disgraceful. I’m a graduate of Johnson University (Formerly Johnson Bible College) around here and still go to the library and many of the professors have sadly agreed with me that I use the library more than most students. One professor told me about seeing a student over the summer and asking “What are you reading over the summer?” and getting the answer of “Nothing.” I complimented him on his self-restraint in not smacking the guy right then and there.

I say this and I think people of every worldview could agree with it. Read. Years ago, I went back to my old high school and went to an English class I used to belong to and the teacher introduced me to the students. What did I find myself telling the students to do without prompting from the teacher? Telling them to read. It was the most important advice I could give.

It still is.

In Christ,
Nick Peters



5 Responses to “Why Reading Is So Important”

  1. silverswiper Says:

    Hey Nick,

    I was wondering if I could e-mail you, but I can’t find an address on your blog. Could you give me an address?



  2. roscoe74 Says:

    Speaking as a librarian, I believe that part of my job involves nurturing enquiring minds and fostering independent scholarship. At a personal level, this is also part of my lifelong learning. I’m always reading something. As soon as I finish one book I move onto the next one. Also, where possible, I try to expose myself to other worldviews, and not just those that reinforce what I already believe. That boy in the reading contest got a raw deal, but there you go,

  3. michellemu Says:

    I believe that the director of the library is mishandling this contest completely. Perhaps she is disgraceful, although that’s a pretty strong word. (So is screwball — platinum screwball, no less.)

    I think, on the other hand, we should applaud Lita Casey, the library aide, who sounds like she’s on the right track. The article says she is the one who asks the questions to verify that the children did the reading, she’s the one who makes calls to the participants to encourage them to keep at it, and she’s the one who gleefully (just look at the picture accompanying the article) awards the grand prize to Tyler Weaver each year.

    Just a little plug for looking for the goodness, especially from the usually unnoticed little people.

  4. Ralph A. Estle Says:

    My wife is tired of me buying book. Not only do they clutter things up and collect dust, but they cost $$$. Now the only books that I purchase are for study and reference. I am very thankful for the Free Library of Philadelphia. Knowing that I have to return a book gives me more incentive to read it faster and with more concentration and comprehension.

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