Since the beginning of 2020, I’ve read 68 books. According to the website where I log my reading, that’s amounted to 17,343 pages; the shortest was 91 pages and the longest was 529.
Of those 68 books, 19 were autobiographical; I clearly love to read memoirs! Twelve were related to my work in ministry, three were read sitting on the beach over my family vacation week in June, and one was about the Bachelor franchise (my guilty pleasure).
According to GoodReads, the most popular book I read was by young adult fiction writer John Green; the least popular was a recent release by my seminary worship professor. My favorite was Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, and I’ll keep the name of my least favorite to myself, but let’s just say that Bachelor book won’t win any prizes.
A rekindled love
Reading for pleasure is one of the loves I’ve rediscovered since leaving my life as a full-time student last May. When you spend hours daily reading for class, the thought of curling up at home with a book on the couch is far less appealing than it has been since I graduated from seminary!
These days, I love to read. This rekindled love, which has really been within me since early in childhood, has helped me to expand my horizons as I learn about the world around me through the lenses of beautiful fiction stories, raw memoirs, curated collections of essays, and adolescent novels written in verse (check out Kwame Alexander’s work!).
I’ve noticed that the books I read inform the way I see the world. They expose me to new viewpoints and life experiences, prompting me to reconsider my own worldview. Particularly during this season in our country’s life, I’ve found that reading books by Black authors has helped me to expand my imagination around stories and histories of race and racialized violence. It’s a real gift that authors have chosen to share these stories with the world.
Movies, music, TV
Perhaps you aren’t much of a reader – no shame in that! – but I bet you have some form of media or art that you experience on a regular basis. Maybe you’re into movies or television, or maybe you love looking at art or listening to music.
These things help us to expand how we see the world, leading us outside of ourselves. We may even find ourselves located within a particular plot point or storyline. That’s one of my favorite things about reading fiction: this experience of locating my own experience within the experiences of characters I’m reading about.
When we’re exposed to good stories, we find ourselves within them.
Your life in scripture
This is also true of the Bible. My colleague Keith Dove introduced me to a wonderful concept he learned about during seminary, which involves encouraging people to find themselves – their own experiences, life stages, and histories – within the scriptural narrative.
God’s grand story of salvation is a sweeping one, full of all the beauty and drama of your favorite movie or book. The narratives span many years and cultures, and in our tradition, we believe that they continue to speak to us across time and space.
I wonder where you might find that the stories, poems, and letters of scripture speak to your own life.
Where do you see yourself reflected? Where do you see your own story within the larger story of salvation? Where might the Spirit be leading you to follow the example of someone in the Bible?
I pray that these questions continue to animate our imaginations as we continue in our lives of Christian discipleship. It is a wonderful gift to have a sacred text full of vibrant stories, and an even greater gift to get to find ourselves within them.
Thanks be to God.
2020-21 selections of the Currie Library book clubs