Annie’s post last week prompted me to think even more about the books I read and to clarify the parameters that frame my own reading choices. As my “signature” for my reviews here states, I’ve been captivated by books for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, my mother used to make me go outside. More often than not, I simply sat under the maple tree in our front yard, reading whatever I could find.
During my teenage years, I still read quite a bit, though not as voraciously as before. After college, I was so burned out on reading that I took a break that would last years through early married life and my daughter’s infancy and toddler days. I read sporadically at best.
I didn’t catch the reading bug again until a couple of years ago. How things had changed! I’m not sure if it was because I had become a Christian, or if the medium itself was different. Honestly, it was probably a combination of the two. For whatever reason, I quickly realized that if I was going to enjoy reading again, I would have to be extremely careful in selecting reading material. Coarse language, rampant promiscuity, and graphic violence abound in contemporary fiction (the same is true for television and film, of course). These are things I shy away from, in my own life and in my entertainment choices. Not because I’m above it, but rather because I know where I came from and I don’t want to go back there.
That doesn’t mean I read only “Christian” material. Admittedly, the majority of what I read would fall into that category, but I have read some fantastic books that are not Christian and not 100% “clean”. However, I try to be very discriminating in what I read. Some might argue that I needn’t be so disciplined because, after all, reading is just a hobby. True. Reading is just a hobby. I won’t allow it to affect my life as anything more than that. Although I have laughed while Lizzy poked fun at Darcy, wept with Anne and Marilla when Matthew died, and tried to solve mysteries alongside Nancy, these characters (near and dear to me as they are) are not eternal. Rather, they are entertainment.
I firmly believe that a good book can cause a reader to expand her horizons and challenge her to think differently. I applaud that. Yet there are certain things I cannot change my mind about or become desensitized to. It’s a personal choice each of us must make, and one that I’ve never regretted.
Melissa has been captivated by books for as long as she can remember. She resides in Virginia and blogs at Breath of Life.