The Joy of Reading

AH, that’s more like it. I thought I’d lost if for a while. At one point I was certainly afraid that I would never enjoy it again. I was jaded, unemotional, so caught up in thinking that I thought I had lost all attachment to my imagination, and my standards. But, alas, I have found that joy again. And not a moment too soon.

After weeks and weeks of slaving over ‘Christian living’ or ‘theology’ books, I finally regained the joy of reading. Indeed, Christian living books have been very edifying to my faith and understanding of God, but after consuming an inordinate amount of these texts I was literally sick of them (I think you might be able to tell through the progression of my posts). What’s worse, I was sick of reading. Something that had once brought me so much joy had become a burden, an obligation even. I found myself laboring through books, anticipating what a pastor or scholar would write about certain topics; my reading became skimming and my skimming became skipping through pages that held familiar advice. I already knew what they were basically going to say.

Part of this is my fault. I selected books that fell right in line with my theological views. So naturally, after reading through some books I had a pretty good idea of what others were going to say and what biblical passages they were going to employ. At the same time, Christian living books seemed more and more fickle to me. Fickle, not in their substance, but rather in their structure and quality. Most were in the 100-200 page range (which reflects the attention span of mainstream readers), and were written in conversational form. It was like reading transcripts of sermons, and in most cases, if you looked up the author on YouTube, they probably had a sermon on the subject of their newest book. This is all well and good for people who will read a book every now and then, but for me this was supremely frustrating. Thus, books in the ‘Christian living’ genre that peaked my interest were few and far between.

I had to get my hands on some good literature. I checked and double checked the NYT bestseller list and surveyed Amazon’s Books of the Month. My first comeback swing at a fiction novel was with James Patterson’s, Alex Cross’ Trial. Admittedly, this was an easy read and it wasn’t a homerun (it was more like a line drive), but it suited my needs—it got me back into the realm of literature. I selected the book because it was by a renowned author and looked like an interesting story line. I was not disappointed. I literally sprinted out of the starting gates and devoured the novel in a day. It was extremely enjoyable. I had forgotten what it felt like to get lost in a book, to be anxious to get back to reading in order to find out what would happen next in the plot (I curled up in my bed and read until 3 AM!).

What I enjoyed most about reading fiction was how it helped me visualize the story; I literally had a running movie in my head. I would imagine the main character in his early-1900’s outfit, walking through dusty roads or hopping off a black carriage. I imagined children riding bikes and playing in their dirty faded overalls. I imagined southern accents. I imagined angry faces and snobby rich people.

It was fun, and beneficial because this carried over into my devotional times. It helped me visualize what I was reading, and it actually made the bible more exciting. I saw Joseph revealing himself to his brothers, I saw Moses leading the people of Israel through all their grumbling. I saw the death and devastation that resulted from man’s rebellion against God. I don’t know how I ever read through the bible without being able to visualize the narratives, without being able to put myself into the stories. Praise God for giving us imaginations!

Well, I’m going to get back to reading. I have a book I’m working on that has me riveted. You should all go read too.

bc

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2 thoughts on “The Joy of Reading

  1. Tham Yu Heng says:

    Dear Brian,

    I stumbled upon your blog through another’s blog — I was initially Googling for the lyrics of “Sweet are the Seasons” as rendered by Matthew Smith.

    I am a Reformed Christian, male, born in 1985. I am from Singapore, and I am leaving a comment here because I couldn’t find any contact information on your blog.

    Just thought I’ll drop you a note to say “hello” and I am glad that you read Christian literature as well. Please do visit my blog — they are excerpts from books that I find insightful and edifying. :)

    God bless and hear from you soon!

    (And oh, I’ll be subscribing to your blog on Google Reader)

    • Brian Chang says:

      Hey Tham,

      Thank you for the encouragement. It’s always a blessing to get connected with other Christians, especially those overseas! I’ll be sure to check out your blog! Keep in touch, Tham!

      Brian

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