I’ve been meaning to get in the habit of reviewing books after I’ve read them. Problem is, I don’t read the sorts of books most people review. So I wanted to explain my approach to reading.
Cutting edge is good?
My approach to reading is based on the premise that newer does not equal better. In fact, I assume the opposite. I assume that of the thousands of books that are published in 2012, hundreds at best will be worth investing my time in reading.
I do not say that because I think the books aren’t valuable and full of knowledge worth having. I say that because of the following scary reality: Outside of my academic studies, I read 20 books in 2011.
A life is made up of only so many books
Twenty books is probably more than I’ve read in the average year previously. But taking that as an average, assuming a 70 year lifetime, and assuming the health to read until the day I die, I will read 800 more books in my life. Max. And only 400 of them will be before I’m 50.
That reality sobers me. There will probably be 400 books published this month alone. Yet I can think of dozens of books written before 1800 that I really should make the effort to read before I die.
So I feel that of the thousands of books that will be published in 2012, only a very few of them should be priority reading for me. I would much rather read the stand-out books from 2011 or 2000 or 1990 this year than to try to ride the wave of the cutting edge. After all, it will be difficult during 2012 to tell which 2012 books are really worth reading. But I suspect in 2022, it will be a lot clearer.
So my approach to reading tends to be more representative. I want to read key books that represent key streams of thought. There is the odd topic that I want to read in depth. Very rarely I will be able to read almost exhaustively on a topic. But my goal is to read broadly and representatively.
Why read broadly? Well, there are many reasons. But one reason is that I don’t consider myself to really understand a view deeply until I’ve read proponents of that view. It’s no use reading Cessationists defending Cessationism and then seeking to address the major Continuationist lines of thinking in our day. One must actually read his opponents before he can credibly argue against them. This requires reading all sorts of books by all sorts of people.
So why review?
Why should I review a book that’s been out for twenty or thirty years? Well, since the blog phenomenon is a recent development, I suppose many older books would have a fairly limited store of online reviews. So my reviews are designed to help others judge which books might be beneficial to them.
Additionally, I will try to make it a habit to review books whether or not I appreciate them. My goal in this is not to be unnecessarily negative, but rather to provide a counterpoint to the mainstream thinking.
Grace to you.