I think it is almost safe to say that I was born a bookworm. I know that from the day I picked up a book and discovered I could actually read on my own, books have been my friends and companions through thick and thin.
It probably isn’t a surprise that I married a fellow book lover, for book lovers tend to get together one way or another. He may not read as much as I do, and may not be quite so wormish about books as I am, but he knows a good book when he sees one, and when it comes to organizing the book shelf, his will be perfect every time! There are few things more cozy to me than curling up together with my sweetheart and reading the afternoon away.
Years have changed a lot of things for this bookworm. The responsibilities and demands of life have shifted my priorities: I don’t read as much as I use to read, and for a while, I read almost nothing at all. In part, many moves that kept books tucked into boxes for months or years at a time were to blame. But that wasn’t the only reason.
A favorite singer says that with love, too much of a good thing, is a good thing, and when it comes to loving my husband and our marriage, I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly. Yet, with almost everything else in life, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and reading too much of even good books can prove to have ill effects on other aspects of life.
I doubt that over-reading in general is something that much of the population today has to worry about. But sometimes I wonder if we take time to find balance in our reading, in what we read, how we read and yes, even how much we read.
The Bible tells us to have moderation in all that we do, and while I never read anything that could be called a bad book in a moral sense, I did read too many books about other people. One day I realized that I would rather live in my world of make believe than deal with the real challenges of life. That’s when I cut back on the light storybook reading, and began to read more of the real stuff.
I learned that fiction, like dessert, should be sparing and well selected, or it spoils the appetite for real food — and real life. It might not be popular, but I can think of a dozen or more girls of my acquaintance who found themselves dissatisfied with real love — almost missing the beauty and spoiling the joy of what was meant to be the happiest years of their life — because they couldn’t understand why when they got married it wasn’t like the story books made it out to be.
I learned that as good and wonderful as reading is, it is no substitute for living — for really living. It can inspire dreams and aspirations that are high and noble, but at some point if we don’t put down the books and start living, we’ll find life to be as empty as a blank notebook we always meant to write in but never quite did.
So I made a promise to live more, even if it meant reading less.
Somewhere out of my quest to find that reading balance (and this is a quest I have no doubt that I will continue for the rest of my life — because that is how balance is), the motto that became the heart of a yearly reading challenge formed. It’s the one that I tell myself often when I feel tempted to read too quickly or too much, or am thinking about reading in general:
The point of books isn’t how many books you get through, but how many books get through to you.
It isn’t the number of pages, or the number of books, or even just the kind of book. It is choosing what I read so that in reading, the words aren’t just symbols that pass under my eyes and make no change on my mind, heart or life. It is choosing books that make the life I do live better for having read the words I do read.
I may not read 100 or more books in a year anymore. I might be tempted to rush through the few I do read, losing the depth of the book in favor of getting on to the next one. And yet, all the times I’ve read, letting the book get through to me, instead of just getting through the book, I’ve realized again how good reading really can be.