“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss
Nothing has grown and shaped my curiosity like books. I do not think there is a single medium in the world that so effectively shares information, opens new worlds, and ignites the imagination as books. It would seem you agree since you are, after all, reading or listening to a book. Books are largely what made me want to write. Books have shaped my perspectives on God, friends, sports, civil issues, faith, church, art, and nearly everything else. I read for fun and I read to learn. My greatest risk in reading is that I will collect knowledge but do not act on it, that I will become a card catalog of knowledge instead of being intent on bringing my curiosity to bear in the world.
I have friends who say things like “I really only read non-fiction.” For some it’s a matter of not connecting emotionally with a fictional world. For others it’s a matter of investing in facts, in what is “true.” They see fiction as a fanciful, fruitless, fatuous waste of time.
Here’s the thing: fiction can be truer than facts. A good novel reveals the real in a way an essay or a biography usually fails to do. A novel shows truth, it presents a deeper layer of truth that, if described, would be boring at best and unrecognizable at worst. But when we find it woven in a story we know it to be true. Good vs. evil, nobility, honesty, courage, friendship, self-sacrifice – these are truths that fiction reveals in a way non-fiction often struggles to do.
Have you ever read a sentence then sat back and breathed out real slowly because, wow, it was just that incredible? It packed so much beauty, so much truth into just a few words. For lovers of great writing these are transcendent, pinnacle moments like the way musicians will play back a bridge or chorus over and over again or film buffs will rewatch a scene twenty times out of sheer amazement at the camera work or cinematography. Not all readers are lovers of great writing, though. Many are lovers of information whether or not artfulness and craftsmanship is present. And yet other are reluctant readers. They know they ought to read and enough people recommended a book that they decided to soldier through it.
If you are in the first group I hope this book meets your expectations. If you are in one of the latter two groups I challenge you with this: explore what makes great writing great; seek out the best. Find a few favorites – authors who wow you, stories that draw you in or move your soul, genres you gravitate toward. Reading is about more than just message; it is about method too. It is about the means by which a message is communicated. There is truth communicated in both substance and style, and often substance without style actually diminishes the message. The craft of writing displays God’s fingerprints.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
– Charles William Eliot
For the curious, or for the aspiring curious, books are a treasure trove. You can start almost anywhere. Pick a subject, pick a style, pick a length, pick an era in history then grab a book and read. Read a little bit at a time. Find what you like and go.
For those who are already readers find something new. If you love non-fiction, read fiction. If you love novels, read a biography. If you love both, read poetry.
In reading you’ll learn what you set out to learn and along the way you will absorb truth and beauty in unexpected ways. Your brain will latch on to things you never suspected and remind you of them at unexpected times. If you find a book you love and find another person who loves it too you have found a friend. Books are a curious person’s greatest treasure and the gateway to experiences, people, and knowledge. So dig in.
This post is adapted from an excerpt in Barnabas’s book, The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life. If you are interested in seeing what kind of curious person you are (or are not) visit CuriousChristianBook.com and take the short assessment.