By Mark A. Taylor
He’s a writer who was talking to booksellers about reading. Everyone in the room listened keenly to his points, partly because it was their business, and partly because most of what he had to say is bad news.
“Only 5 percent of the American public ever sets foot in a bookstore,” he said. “The average man in America won’t read another book after the day he leaves high school. We’ve become addicted to screens, whose message is, ‘Let me entertain you.’”
He quoted statistics that say half of the world today is illiterate, and then, “But what’s the difference between a person who can’t read and one who won’t?”
Sounds like a speech from an English professor or maybe your mother. But the speaker was Pat Williams, senior vice president and cofounder of the Orlando Magic basketball team. Williams, author of more than 50 books himself, has a goal to read one book every day. (He cowrote his latest book with his wife, Ruth. Happy Spouse, Happy House releases this month from Standard Publishing.)
“Well, he’s not reading the kind of books I’m reading,” a friend said when I related Williams’s goal. He pulled out his latest project, a thick tome with small print. Point well taken. The goal is intellectual stimulation (“Reading is one of the best deterrents to dementia,” Williams asserted), personal delight, insight on life, and equipping oneself to serve. The number of books read per year may not be what matters most, unless the answer is zero.
This week we’re publishing ideas from leaders who are readers. Contributing editor Eddie Lowen tells examples and principles to describe how reading can change a local ministry. Contributing editor Arron Chambers talks about how and why he’s written several books.
Other contributing editors offer their lists of “must-read” books. Many of them had a difficult time limiting their recommendations to the few we allowed them. How many of their choices have you read?
At one a day, you could get through all these books before Valentine’s Day. But most of them deserve far more attention than that.
If you’ve read every book mentioned this week, you deserve some recognition, so please tell us. We’ll share your name and send you a book you haven’t read (something new from Standard Publishing!) to add to your library.
Meanwhile, most of us will get at least one idea here for a book that will interest and enrich us. If our lists stimulate you to read one of these books for the first time, we’d like to know that too. We’ll be looking for a different set of people to bring book recommendations in next year’s issue about reading!