why read?

As we have discussed already in 2020, one of the Intramuralist’s resolute resolutions was simply to read more. Why?

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” — Walt Disney

Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.” — Malorie Blackman

We read to know we are not alone.” — C.S. Lewis

And while no aficionado nor expert nor author extraordinaire, my strong sense is we need to be reading different things by different people and not simply books and essays that serve primarily only to reinforce what we already know we believe. It’s why I actively, consistently read the Bible, the world’s all-time best, bestseller; it teaches and stretches me more than any other writing. It challenges me, humbles me, and clearly confronts me with the reality that there is so much I do not know… and so much more to learn. Wisdom comes often from sources other than self.

What are you reading that’s conservative? Progressive?

What are you reading from history or about a contemporary conflict?

What are you reading that’s written by someone who doesn’t look like you?

What are you reading from an American author or from someone not born in this country?

What are you reading from a male? Female? Old? New?

Fiction? Nonfiction? Biography?

Varied background? Style? Or ancestry?

From the book completed just yesterday, said one of the fictional characters, after some life-changing growth, “I tell them there is nothing more selfish than trying to change someone’s mind because they don’t think like you. Just because something is different does not mean it should not be respected.”

So in 2020, I’m thrilled to be learning from the different, such as in…

Permission to Feel, written by Marc Brackett, whom we have previously quoted at length here, encouraging each of us to become an emotion “scientist” as opposed to an emotion “judger”…

Small Great Things, written by Jodi Picoult… In this 2016 New York Times bestseller and noted work of fiction, the lives and perspectives of Ruth, Kennedy and Turk are interwoven. Ruth is the protagonist, an African-American labor and delivery nurse who was ordered not to touch the baby of a white supremacist couple; the newborn later dies in her care. Kennedy is Ruth’s white public defender, and Turk is the father of the child. In a gripping — and for me, page-turning — tale, we watch each character wrestle with what they’ve been taught. To quote one of the central characters, “It just goes to show you: every baby is born beautiful. It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly.” NY Times critic Roxane Gay called the novel “messy,” but added “so is our racial climate.” No doubt this is a deeply insightful read…

Making Peace with Change, written by trusted friend, Gina Brenna Butz… In this brand new, nonfiction, 2020 release, Gina wrestles with the depth of transition in each of our lives, recognizing the mess, but encouraging the reader to navigate through in a healthy, God-honoring way. I feel like I’m sitting down with Gina having a long, extended cup of coffee; there’s so much here we can also quote; for example, “The pain of unmet desire often causes us to lash out. Our kids disobey, and we insist that they change. We yell and lay down the law and demand that they do what we ask. Why? Because at a deep heart level, we don’t feel respected by them, and we we hate that… On the surface, we blame the moving company for running late, or the map app that just sent us down the wrong road in a new city. But underneath, the anger is a symptom of unmet desire. And when something feels threatened, it is easier to make ourselves big with anger than to feel the fear, confusion, and frustration”…

So far I’ve read insightful works from each of the above in addition to Rosaria Butterfield, Latasha Morrison, and Chip and Dan Heath. Ben Carson and Malcolm Gladwell are next on my list. William Krueger, Robert Dugoni, and Priya Parker will hopefully come soon thereafter. 

Allow me only to encourage the growth and humility that comes via reading, recognizing wisdom comes often from sources other than self.

Respectfully… always…