Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

On Books and Reading, an Advice from J.R. Miller

 12.10.11

J.R. Miller wrote an excellent advice regarding the books we read, and it deserves to be read today and a week from today and then a month, and then a year from today. There is so much to read nowadays,  books (all kind of books), articles, newspapers, magazines, blogs, Facebook quotes, tweets; but we rarely stop to consider how many of those words are really helping us grow in the Lord and be better wives, moms and sisters in Christ. Today I am sharing an excerpt of this article*.

Katie Lloyd Photography @

Books and Reading

J. R. Miller, 1880


It is said, that it would require hundreds of years to read the titles alone, of all the books in the world's libraries. Even of those that issue each year from the press newly written, one person can read but a very meager percentage. It is therefore a physical impossibility to read all the books which the art of printing has put within our reach. Even if our whole time were to be devoted to reading, we could in our brief years peruse but a very small portion of them. Then it must be considered that in these busy days, when active duties press so imperiously, the most of us can devote but a few hours each day at the best to reading, and very many find, not hours—but minutes only, for this purpose. There are hosts of busy people who cannot read more than a handful of books in a year.

It is settled, therefore, for us all, that we must be content to leave the great mass of printed books unread. Even those who are favored with most leisure cannot read one in a thousand, or ten thousand—of the books that offer themselves. And those whose hands are full of activities can scarcely touch the great mountain of printed matter that looms up invitingly before them.

The important question, then, is: On what principle should we select out of this great wilderness of literature the books we shall read? If I can read but a dozen volumes this year, how am I to determine what volumes of the thousands they shall be?

For all books are not alike good. There are books that are not worth reading at all. Then, of those that are good, the value is relative. The simplest wisdom teaches that we should choose those which will repay us most richly. Let us look at some principles relating to this subject which are worthy of consideration.

[W]hen we consider the subject from a Christian view-point, it becomes even more important. Our work here is spiritual culture. We are to keep most sedulous watch over our hearts, that nothing shall tarnish their purity. We are to admit into our minds, nothing that may dim our spiritual vision or break in any degree the continuity of our communion with God; and it is well known that any corrupt thing, admitted even for a moment into our thoughts, not only stains our mind—but leaves a memory that may draw a trail of stain after it forever.

There are many books that are free from immoral taint, that we must exclude also—unless we want to throw away our time, and waste our opportunities for improvement. They are unobjectionable on moral grounds—but are vapid, frivolous, empty. There are many popular novels that have even a sort of religious odor, which yet teach nothing, give no heavenly impulse, furnish no food for thought, add no additional fact to our store of godly knowledge, leave no touch of beauty. There is nothing of value in them!

There is a great demand in these days, for this easy kind of reading. It agrees well with the indolent disposition of many, who want nothing that requires close application or vigorous thinking, or patient, earnest mental toil. It is not directly harmful. It could not be indicted for bad moral quality or influence. It leaves no debris of vile rubbish behind. It may be orthodox, full of sentimental talk about religion and of pious moralizing on sundry duties. It starts no impure suggestion. It teaches no false doctrine or wrong principle. It debauches no conscience. It flows over our souls like soft sentimental music.

And yet it is decidedly evil in its effects upon mind and heart—for it imparts no vigor; it vitiates the appetite; it enervates the mind and destroys all taste for anything solid and substantial in literature. It so enfeebles the powers of attention, thought, memory and all the intellectual machinery, that there is no ability left to grapple with really important subjects. Next to the great evil produced by impure and tainted literature, comes the debilitating influence of the enormous flood of inane, worthless publications filling the country.

If we can read in our brief, busy years—but a very limited number of books of any kind—should not those few be the very best, richest, most substantial and useful that we can find in the whole range of literature?

If one hundred books lie before me, and I have time to read but one of them; if I am wise, I will select that one which will bring to me the largest amount of useful information, which will start in my mind the grandest thoughts, the noblest impulses, the holiest conceptions, the purest emotions, or which sets before me the truest ideals of Christian virtue and godly character!

But how do most people read? On what principle do they decide what to read—or what not to read? Is there one in a hundred who ever gives a serious thought to the question, or makes any intelligent choice whatever? With many it is "the last novel," utterly regardless of what it is. With others, it is anything that is talked about or extensively advertised. We live in a time when the trivial is glorified and magnified, and held up in the blaze of sensation, so as to attract the gaze of the multitude, and sell. That is all many books are made for—to sell. They are written for money, they are printed, illustrated, bound, ornamented, titled—simply for money! There is no value in them. There was no high motive, no thought of doing good to anyone, of starting a new impulse, of adding to the fund of the world's joy or comfort or knowledge. They were wrought out of mercenary brains. They were made to sell, and to sell they must appeal to the desire for sensation, excitement, romance, diversion or entertainment.

So it comes to pass, that the country is flooded with utterly worthless publications, while really good and profitable books are left unsold and unread! The multitude goes into ecstasies over foolish tales, sentimental novels, flashy magazines, and a thousand trivial works that please or excite for a day—while the really profitable books, are passed by unnoticed!

Hence, while everybody reads, few read the really profitable books. Modern culture knows all about the spectacular literature that flashes up and dies out again—but knows nothing of history or true poetry or really great fiction. Many people who have not the courage to confess ignorance of the last novel, regard it as no shame to be utterly ignorant of the majestic old classics. In the floods of ephemeral literature, the great books are buried away. The 'Pilgrim's Progress' is only known from being referred to so often, while the thousand summer volumes on sentimental religion are eagerly devoured by pious people!

It is time for a revolution on this subject. We must gain courage to remain ignorant of the great mass of books in the annual Nile-overflow of the printing-press. We must read the great masters in religion, and we must have a system by which our reading shall be rigidly controlled and directed—or we shall spend all our life and not be profited. Aimless rambling from book to book accomplishes little. We should select conscientiously, wisely, systematically.

Having stricken from the catalogue everything that bears any immoral taint and whatever is merely ephemeral and trivial, there remains a grand residuum of truly great works, some old, some new, from which we must again select according to our individual taste, occupation, leisure, attainments and opportunities. We should read as a staple, works that require close attention, thought, and study.

All books that set before us grand ideals of godly character, are in some sense great. The ancients were accustomed to place the statues of their distinguished ancestors about their homes, that their children might, by contemplating them, be stimulated to emulate their noble qualities. Great lives embalmed in printed volumes, have a wondrous power to kindle the hearts of the young, for "a good book holds, as in a vial, the purest efficacy and extraction of the living intellect that bred it."

There are great books enough to occupy us during all our short and busy years; and if we are wise, we will resolutely avoid all but the richest and the best. As one has written, "We need to be reminded every day how many are the books of inimitable glory which, with all our eagerness after reading, we have never taken in our hands. It will astonish most of us to find how much of our industry is given to the books which leave no mark—how often we rake in the litter of the printing-press, while a crown of gold and rubies is offered us in vain!"

It amazes me when Miller describes the time he is living in (1800's), as a time when "the trivial is glorified and magnified", and a time when the culture "knows all about the spectacular literature that flashes up and dies out again";  it seems that we never recovered from that period.

Reading this article makes me think of at least two things, what books am I reading and what websites/blogs am I reading.

I know I am choosing the right books, but on the other hand, I have to admit that sometimes I read more online than on paper, and that needs to change even today. Concerning blogs and websites, well, there is a huge number of good ones out there, but time is gold (and good books are too!) so, if I don't see you coming here, because instead you are spending that time with a good book, then I will miss you but will be very happy because I had a good influence on you.

What about you, how do you choose the books, websites, blogs you read?

Do you spend more time reading books or browsing through the Internet?

What book are you reading now?


Much love,


post signature



*via Grace Gems
Visit Katie Lloyd Fine Art Photography shop here

Post a Comment

I am so glad you are here today. Thanks for visiting this place and taking the time to leave a comment.

I read every comment; however, for the sake of time I don't always reply to each one of them. I am sure you understand.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Do you want to browse and ponder over older entries?

Click here to visit my former WordPress blog, On My Way to Heaven, there are 255 entries to read!

One day, hopefully, I will import it here!

You can subscribe to receive the almost-daily entries in your favorite reader, or you can become a sojourner; join me on this journey at the right bottom of the page, where it says "sojourners". I would love to "see" your face there.



Thank you for visiting!


I am a contributor here...

Who is Becky?

My Photo
Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
View my complete profile

Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



May I kindly ask, if you wish to use any image or text from this space to email me to get written permission? These are our family pics. Our journal in pixels and few words.
Thank you.

-All photos and words on this website are protected by copyright. Do not download for use in anyway without consent. -

My email is

dailyonmywaytoheaven {at} yahoo {dot} com

Recent Posts

Copyright

All rights reserved©Becky Pliego 2009- 2010. All images and texts are property of the author unless otherwise mentioned.

Back to TOP