Hearts & Minds BookNotes

annotations, blurbs and ruminations

to enlarge the heart & stimulate the mind

and to happily generate mail order business for Hearts & Minds bookstore

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Location: Dallastown, PA

My lovely wife Beth and I own and operate--proprietors makes us sound more classy than we really are--a cluttered, diverse and independent bookstore in Central Pennsylvania. After well over 20 years, we are still not sure what to say when people ask if our shop is a "Christian bookstore." I do a monthly book review column over at our website; we hope that these new blogged bits will afford friends and customers the chance to see other books I happen to be reading, wishing to read, pretending that I read or at least believe that others should, if not read, know about. We have three children, attend a Presbyterian church in York, PA and have no hobbies.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Learning to Love Good Books

I know I am not the first to wish you a Happy New Year, although, if you subscribe to this blog and read it promptly, I might be the first to wish you a Happy Tenth Day of Christmas. (Do you see any Lords A-leaping anywhere?) And, if you are like most North Americans, you’ve considered, even if you aren’t the resolving type, what you might want to do differently in this new year of our Lord. Some of you, I’d bet, are hoping for deeper spiritual lives, wiser use of time, somehow remaining faithful to God in ways that are fruitful, in your personal and public lives. I hope my occasional book reviews are at least somewhat helpful as we commit ourselves to learn and grow. I need not remind most of my readers that the Christian word disciple means to be a learner.

I usually announce books here, and have avoided linking you to other blogs or articles. But to an article that I wrote, well, that is permissible, isn’t it? Our good friends at Comment (an opinion journal published by the Work Research Foundation) did a series of essays last fall for college students, at their on-line journal which always features thoughtful, rather serious pieces on how a broad vision of living out Christian principles can impact culture in the slow, hard work of responding to God’s call to bring reform to Christ’s creation. For that batch of articles they asked me to write one about the discipline of reading, the call to love good books, the ways in which busy, post-modern young folks can take up the task of life-long learning by appreciating the printed page.

I must admit I’m a bit proud of it (not only to be published in such a fabulous series) but because I think what I wrote is a bit unique. Too many bookish types are priggish on popular culture. Some have a philosophical presumption that pits words over images, that blames the lack of reading on TV, that seems, finally, somehow rooted in dualisms that just don’t seem right to me. So I call for a celebration of electronic culture, an appreciation of the arts, a realization that God has made us as multi-faceted creatures with (therefore) different ways of knowing. I offer hope for a balanced lifestyle even as we insist on the need to read books, love books, buy books, study hard, read widely, for fun and profit. I think it is a pretty important piece and some have told me they’ve found it helpful. Read Learning to Love Good Books here.

And while your there, feel free read the other essays, too.

Perhaps you will want to read this article to remind you why you love books and why, almost surely, your New Year’s hopes include making more time to spend between the covers of some well-chosen titles. Or maybe you will want to share it with somebody who doesn't quite get your passion for authors, bookshops, reviews, and all things bookish.

I announced this earlier, but you may have missed it: the folks at Comment publish a hard (real magazine format) copy each quarter-- a “best of” their on-line journal. The one on college life, with my article in it, came out this fall and it is very nice, with articles on learning how and when to talk about faith in college, on learning to evaluate art, on developing important friendships, on studying history. Cal Seerveld has a demanding piece on philosophy, and Jeffry Davis, a creative writing instructor from Wheaton, has a great piece on learning to write well. Gideon Strauss’s spectacular article is called “Asking Big Questions.” It is advice not just for collegiates, I’d say, but for all of us who want to start off the year knowing we are life-long learners, disciples.

Check it out on line and if you like it, please order the hard copy from us here. It sells for $8.00 and is a great resource. Perhaps you could send one to a student you know?