Books. No other form of media has shaped the Western world like books. The power of books lies not in some magical power they possess, but in the interaction that takes place when people open and read a book. While television and movies may deliver the same message, they do so with less interaction. Someone watching a movie may sit passively, ready to be entertained, requiring no more effort than keeping their eyes open. In reading a book, the person must actively participate, not only do we read the words, but we also think and comprehending their meaning.
In cracking the pages of a printed or clicking on the title on an electronic reader, we enter into a conversation a dialogue with the author. They present ideas and beliefs, whether through stories or through sustained arguments, with which we interact. In reading novels, our imaginations are engaged, and we come to understand the characters and situations, in some cases very personally. In sustained arguments, we enter into a dialogue where an author makes a case with which we either agree or disagree.
With the numerous ways that books force us to interact with their content, it is little surprise that they have played such a pivotal role in the shaping of culture. In reality, before something makes its way to the screen, it has talked about, debated, and written in magazines, journals, and books. Once something comes to a screen, it represents the mass dissemination of ideas previous discussion. With the small amount of interaction required to watch movies or television shows, there is no wonder as to how people can slowly be changed by mindlessly imbibing the messages sent.
Herein lies the danger for Christians, rather than being mindless consumers we must actively engage. Therefore, I challenge you to read at least seven good books this year. For those who are not in the habit of reading this may seem like a daunting task, and it may require some changes to the way that you shape your schedule. However, not only is this an attainable goal, it can be a relatively easy goal to meet. Let me demonstrate.
Here are seven solid books, that deserve to be read and that you can get through in a year if you follow this plan. (If you have already read some of these, just substitute another of similar length)
The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
A classic for Bunyan’s ability to allegorize the Christian life. This book allows readers to consider the transitoriness of life as they travel along with Christian to the Celestial City.
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
A dystopian drama set in a society that limits freedom through genetic coding and the population is kept infantile through excessive entertainment.
Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
Here Lewis seeks to unpack the foundation of Christianity in a way that is both thoughtful and intriguing. It will prove a benefit to those trying to understand Christianity better.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
Another dystopian drama. However, this one takes place in a society with a totalitarian government that seeks to rule the people through lack of information.
Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, Ryan T. Anderson
This contemporary work seeks to examine the clash between religious and erotic liberty. The effects of the Obergefell decision are still being worked out, but this work provides a
clear look into the issues facing Christians in its wake.
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
This classic, set before and during the French Revolution, offers a fantastic look into human nature and the cruelty that we can inflict upon one another.
No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology, David Wells
The most difficult read of the bunch but well worth the effort. Wells takes the reader on a fairly comprehensive examination of the forces that have eaten away at robust Evangelical theology.
All told, these works comprise roughly 634,000 words (give or take since word counts were not available for all books. If you divide this equally over 365 days, that comes to just shy of 1,737 words per day. Given that the average page contains about 300-400 words, this comes to somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6 pages per day. If you take into account that the average person reads just shy of 200 words per minute, that comes to about 9-10 minutes of reading per day.
Most can manage 10-15 minutes per day. Additionally, the more you read the faster, you become. So while you may start off slowly, by the end of the year, you will probably be reading much faster. But more importantly, you will have made an investment that will pay off greater dividends.