Recently I was given a Kindle as a belated Christmas present. My wife and I make it a priority that our kids read a half hour every day. I find myself reading all the time. Sometimes I pick up books in my house, sometimes the bible on my phone app, and many times stuff written on the interwebs. But I’ve always been a reader.
Most recently, after reading some old D.C. Beard books (the subject of my last post), I read some Wikipedia articles about World War I battleships, called Dreadnoughts. I saw a Revel plastic model of the USS Arizona in Michael’s, and mentioned it in passing to my wife. She gave me that model for Christmas. So as I looked at the antiquated design, I wanted to know why these older battleships were called dreadnoughts. I knew that there was a dreadnought on the back of a 1918 two-dollar bill, so they were obviously important to public psyche back then.
We have a match with the angle of view and many of the details, except the artist rendered this dreadnought under a full head of steam, with anchors aweigh and flags stowed.
So I read all about the HMS Dreadnought, and the international arms race it began. Very interesting to me and I think, in general, that period from around 1880-1920 is fascinating to me. I let you explore that further if you wish, but the reason I’m writing this morning is because the present of the Kindle Reader got me thinking about reading as one of my avid pastimes.
I remember as a teenager, I felt bad about reading because I would never finish the books I picked up. Then somewhere along the line I realized that my problem was that I don’t like reading fiction as much as non-fiction. A good story is most interesting to me if it’s an account of historical events. Also, reference books appeal to me and I have many.
I went through a long phase of self-help books, but after awhile I realized that the bible contained everything I really needed to know about helping me make my life better. So I read the whole bible over the calendar year of 2014, using The Discipleship Journal Reading Plan. It was an amazing journey, and I’m repeating the experience again this year. I’m using a little different of a reading plan, also put out by Discipleship Journal called the Book-at-a-time Bible Reading Plan.
Committing to reading the bible is very ambitious, and I only succeeded because I supplemented my reading with a CD collection I picked up used called The Listener’s Bible, narrated by Max McLean. This time, I’m listening to Max read as I follow along with the written word. I’m hoping this will help me understand and retain more of what I heard.
Why do I read? My pastor calls the scriptures spiritual food for the Christian. If I’m not reading God’s message to us, I find that I’m not in fellowship with Him on a regular basis. I’m not praying as much. I’m not following the values I believe in when I starve myself of the bible. I have a deep desire to improve myself, to be more than I am. Self-help books always seem to derive their wisdom from man’s opinions, and nearly always fall short of the wisdom I rediscovered in the bible last year.
But besides the bible, reference books and how-to articles always capture my interest. The authors improved themselves to a point of mastery and succeeded in sharing their knowledge with their peers and codified their knowledge for posterity. By the very fact that they wrote a book about their knowledge means that they know something I can learn.
I have tons of ambition and a mere fraction of the willpower to commit to one thing enough to master it. It’s so frustrating; perhaps the most frustrating thing about my life. I can’t seem to pick my main course and sink my teeth in. I’m always ordering the sampler platter.
That’s why I have so many books. When I read, I can use my time to take my mind where others take their money and energy. But I never get around to doing the cool things I read about. My wife has many cookbooks but rarely fixes dinner. I have many home-improvement books but no useable workshop space in my garage. If I spent fifteen minutes doing for every hour I spend reading about doing them, I’d probably get a whole ton of things accomplished.
It’s sick, I know. But at least I’ve successfully weaned myself off of smartphone video games. I’d like to think that’s a step in the right direction.