When Books Get Tiring

No, I'm not above posting a cute cat picture as a way to draw traffic.

I’m a reader. Love to read. Love to read so much that I currently have a stack of books on my office floor that is approximately 5 feet in height. Love to read so much that almost all of the wall space in my office is filled with bookshelves, and those bookshelves are crammed full of books–on the shelves, on top of the shelves, books on top of other books. So please know that what I’m about to write comes from a place of deep love.

I’m bored with books.

Not all books, mind you, just the ones I’ve been reading lately. Admittedly, my scope has been narrow–as a youth pastor, I’ve been reading a lot of Christian books lately in an effort to improve myself as a pastor. I’ve read or re-read everything from Desiring God to Crazy Love to Mad Church Disease to Transformational Churches to Influencing Like Jesus, and I have to say:

BORING.

Now, this is a generalization. One of the things that I love about books is that each one, no matter how boring, has the capacity to surprise you with a sudden turn-of-phrase, or a burst of insight, or a brilliantly delivered line. The books I mentioned above are no exception; each have their moments. But as a whole, the Christian stuff that I’ve been reading (most of which calls the reader earnestly to live a full, vibrant life for God) is flat. Dull. Lifeless.

I can’t put my finger on it, but if I had to offer a thought as to why these books bore, I would have to say it’s due to the fact that too many of us Christians are concerned with how to live life than with actually going out and living it, and the books we read reflect that. It’s the Age of Insecurity–are you a good enough person? Do you know enough? Do you love enough? Do you give enough? If so, how do you manage it? If not, what keeps you from living your best life now? (¬©Joel Osteen) In the end, you’d think that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are paranoia, depression, repression, fear, conceit, and self-loathing.

I mean, by comparison, Woody Allen’s neuroses are small.

Of course, no one is forcing me to read these books. There’s not a gun to my head. But lots of people are buying these books and using them for guidance on how to live life better. People are obviously dissatisfied with the direction/trajectory of their lives, and they’re seeking answers. This is good. That they’re seeking them from books that make you want to end your life rather than finish reading them is a problem.

Let me be clear. I have no problem with people writing books. I want to write books. I want to publish books. I think books are a vital contribution to the world, and one of the best gifts given to humanity. I think that the authors of the books I mentioned are deserving of credit for what they’ve written because their books have helped many people.

But we have reached a place where the words written on the page do not suffice for the ache, the lack, in a person’s daily life. There’s only so much we can learn by proxy; at some point we must get out and live life. And in living life, share it with other people. There’s a crackling to that kind of living; an energy and a pulse that can’t be found anywhere else, not even in the world’s best prose.

Perhaps the issue isn’t with the books as much as it is with the reader, and in this case that’s me. Maybe it’s my time to get out and live a fuller life, do a better job of becoming the person I want to be instead of reading about how to become that person. The tools are at my avail; I don’t need anything more than what I already have. I just have to make myself do it. I have to choose to live.

And by living, here’s hoping I bring life back to the pages I hold so dear.

4 thoughts on “When Books Get Tiring

    • I have not partaken yet, sir. My stack is woefully short on “whimsical, thought-provoking look[s] at everything from the ‘magic’ of quantum physics, to nature’s absurdities, to the problem of evil, evolution and hell”. I’ll give it a look this week.

      As a side note – would you have any interest in joining me for the WNIV Pastor’s Appreciation luncheon in Alpharetta this Thursday? I’m headed out that way and would dearly love a fellow youth worker with which to ride. If you’re interested, just shoot me an email, and I’ll get you registered.

  1. I adore reading as well. But when I was 15, I suddenly realized that I was doing entirely too much reading, and no living. I was trying to live vicariously through my books- at 15! That thought terrified me. I decided that I wanted to have good stories to tell my grandkids someday. I’d have to put down books for a while. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I still read some, and I do miss it; but in exchange, I’ve become a professional adventurer. I move every two or three months, and I fill my life to overflowing with hobbies, road trips, and conversations with interesting strangers. The bible promises that “to the making of many books there is no end.” There will be time for bookshelves and porch swings when we are gray- this is not their season. Go do something while you can.

    Best of luck.

    • Atavist -

      Thanks! This morning I forsook my reading and office time and went to a tree farm with my son’s preschool class. As I told my wife, it was just nice to live life for a while.

      Though I’m not in a position to follow your lead, I do admire you spirit and will try and capture my own version of it in the days and weeks to come.

      Thanks for reading!

Tell me what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s