Stacks of books


I set a rather ambitious reading goal at the start of this year: to read 52 books.

That's one a week, for you math wizards. I did it because the competitive side of me just wanted to try it, and wanted to best what I read last year.

But of course, I fell behind. And as of a week ago, I was about four books behind. And so I kind of just determined I was going to catch up, and get back on track. So of course, that meant coming home from the library with a stack of books I couldn't possibly finish in three weeks. Which has resulted in a lot of reading in a very condensed time.

It's a good time to do it, I suppose, because Parenthood, Parks & Rec, and now Mad Men are all on hiatus. Those are my main three shows, and they're all taking a break. (Next spring, when they're all done, will be super sad). I love watching TV, and I love shows that make me emotional, make me laugh, and make me think.

But I love books all the more.

And the more I read, the happier I am. The more imaginative I am. The more awake and alive and hopeful I feel. Reading food writing makes me want to be in the kitchen more, which makes me a healthier version of myself. Reading David Foster Wallace makes me think entirely too deeply about things that don't really matter (like lobsters, or talk radio)... and then makes me wonder at how this cynical, depressed fellow had such insight and really, foresight, into culture. He knew things about those dreaded millennials and what would make them tick, long before anyone ever started talking about them.

Reading great fiction, contemporary or not, makes me forget about time and space and anxieties around me. I get lost in worlds and characters and plot lines. It doesn't end after a 23-minute or 43-minute episode. I can sit and enter into their world, and leave when I want. Reading books around theology... well, they stretch my theology. But beyond that, they stretch my view of God, enlarging Him, making Him greater and more good and loving than I had previously thought. And they remind me that the trials and challenges of His church are not new, and they will not do her in.

More than TV—even when I think deeply about it and engage it critically—reading expands and enlarges me.

It opens windows and doors to ideas and hopes, and it challenges me and provokes me in a way that even the best of characters and writing on television cannot do. (Although yes, I was deeply convicted by Hannah Horvath's drama in the season finale of GIRLS this year).

This reading pace may not be sustainable for long, but I'm enjoying it right now. And I'll probably keep coming home from the library with impossibly high stacks of books. So, sorry to all the patient library patrons who have to endure my multiple renewals. I am that girl, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.