In his book An Experiment in Criticism, C.S. Lewis elucidates on the power literature has to broaden our horizons and form us into new people by offering us the perspective of another:
Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books…. in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do. (emphasis added)
This is why I read. I am often asked, “How do you remember everything you read?” That’s just it: I don’t. Our minds are like a body of water. The person who does not read treats his or her mind like a stale, stagnant creek. Old ideas fester, mold and algae grow free, thereby unchecked by a current of fresh water, which book reading provides.
I ask that you will allow me to obfuscate my analogy a bit. Our minds are not empty shelves waiting for fresh information to be categorized and filed in our neat cubbies. Rather, now situated in a rushing stream of water, our minds are more like a stone being tossed, rounded, and smoothed by the steady current of new information. I do not read to remember (per se), I read to reform.
With that, I have provided a list of my ten favorite books read in 2015:
- Marilynne Robinson, Gilead: A Novel (New York: Picador, 2006).
- Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (New York: Scribner, 2014).
- Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013).
- Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014).
- Dale Allison, Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012).
- Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013).
- Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch: A Novel(Back Bay Books, 2015). The content of this book is graphic. I would advise you to read my short review before picking up this novel.
- Tom Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Mentor, 2013).
- Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction(Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993).
- Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014).
Tolle lege (Take up and read)!
That is not to say these books were published in 2015; only that I read them this year. ↩