Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

1/22/09

We Are What We Read: Consuming Words?


That is not true, is it? We are what we eat, right? That's true too, but I'm a writer who reads a lot. I'm not a dietitian.

It is true. All of us choose to read some books, and, depending on our jobs, read other things to keep in the know. What do we choose?
Eclectic readers are rare. The truly broad-listed reader who has also strong convictions about what is truth seems hard to find.

I'm a runner. I read a lot of running books and magazines. I know about the sport from several angles even though I'm not especially fast. I'm a poet, and, like running, reading things relating to poetry. I'm hopefully going to help with a chess class at my church. I should do some reading on opening and endgames to refresh my mind.

I'm also a Christian, which, I'm realizing as I write this, I do not read enough about God. I do go in spurts, but lately, have not chased information about my faith. A little reading of Scripture here and there, but that's just playing around, not serious study.

One friend is a voracious political blog reader. I asked him the other day what else he reads. Nothing else. No wonder he is pessimistic. He knows well that no president can change the hearts of Mankind, so he knows that when the Barack Obama honeymoon is over, life returns to talks of war, oil prices and demonizing.

Another friend reads only fantasy. His real world relationships are weak, but he can tell you about the ten planets of Jujube and which is inhabited by the Ipsidoodles.

One friend, a particular religious one, reads only authors approved by his friends. There is no committee that censors his list; he is free to read whatever he likes. Still, he reads books that agree with his slant, and he is predisposed to agree. At first, he seems the broadest minded of all my friends, being extremely well-read, but his reading list repeats itself. Same books, same magazines, just with different titles and authors.

What does our reading list tell us? Our obsessions? What we are brave enough to read? Does the history buff ever read the comics? What if my blog reading friend picked up a collection of Victorian plays? What would happen?

I once read several dictionaries purposely. These were ones focused on unusual words. I read one dictionary backwards, just to see what would happen.

Are Bushaters only reading Bush-hate books? Did McCain fans read Obama-love books?

What is as telling is what is missing from our reading list. Does the conservative Christian subscribe to Sojourners? Does the liberal Christian read John Piper books?

Most of us who call ourselves eclectic readers are not all that eclectic, I think. It sounds good, but isn't true. A quick look at what we have read, and perhaps reviewed (for those of us foolishly compelled to discuss books by writing reviews), in the last 2-3 months can answer this.

Whatever excuses we have about why we read what we read, consider the next book carefully. Make it worth the time.
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