1. Introductions–books put us next to people who aren’t in our typical orbit; they expose us to ideas that aren’t yet lodged in the brain.
2. Breadth–daily life tends to play out within fairly well-defined boundaries. Books widen the horizon.
3. Delight–one of the ways I judge a book to be ‘good’ is if it can successfully create and populate a new world I’m happy to enter and reluctant to leave. Lord of the Rings, anyone? Or, The Sparrow? Maybe a better word/reason here is, come to think of it, enchantment.
4. Craft–good books also put you in a room with great craft: care with words, sentences, paragraphs; attention to pace (both serene and frenetic are acceptable, if it serves the story); characters you’d like to accompany on vacation. And whenever you’re around craftsmanship, something magical happens.
5. Novelty–I’m reading Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus. So far, I’m a third of the way in and still rather baffled–but eager to come along for the ride. Something new about the circus? She’s pulling it off, and keeping it fresh.
6. Expansion–Another favorite (what books do you return to?) is Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Night Flight. This book makes me want to be heroic, courageous, stoic–and to fly through the Andes in a bi-plane.
7. Education–A friend recommended Lewis Smede’s My God and I. A slow opening (which made me question my friend’s recommendation: usually he’s got great advice) led into a dense middle section that gave me a new sense for the power of forgiveness and how winsome of meekness is. I learn from books all the time.
8. Stamina–when it’s so easy to equate reading with looking at screens (if this blog isn’t interesting in the first sentence, I’m outta here), books call readers to stay engaged. This can happen with short ones (Night Flight is hardly as thick as a coaster), but it’s especially true for long ones (Neal Stephenson’s Reamde weighs in–and this is more than a metaphor–at over 100o pages), which require–and, if we’ve made a good selection, reward–commitment.
9. And, I read to remember who I want to be, where I want to go, what I want to do…
Why read books? How would you respond?