Recently, I heard a story about a young woman who was moving house. She happens to own quite a few books and these had been packed in boxes ready for the big day. Now the number of books she owned did not seem over the top to her, so she was quite taken aback by the conversation that ensued when the young male removalists arrived.
‘This box sure is heavy—what’s in it?’
‘Books—I’ve written it on the box here. And I wrote "More books" on this one and "Even More Books" on that one. And there’s one over there that says "Still more books!"’
The young men were dumbfounded.
‘Why do you own all those books? What do you do with them?’
‘Well ... er ... I read them.’
‘Man—I don’t own any books. And I don’t read any,’ one of them said. ‘But I’m on Facebook!’
I thought about this conversation later as I was reading a book to our one-year-old granddaughter. Moments earlier, she had objected when her Granddad sat down to read to her three-year-old brother. No, she managed to convey to us through much crying, she did not want to share—she was determined to have her very own book and turn the pages herself. As I read to her and looked across at our grandson, who was listening so intently to his own book, I hoped and prayed they would keep this love of books they have forever. Perhaps those young removalists had never been able to sit and read books with their grandparents. Perhaps they had never been read to as children. Perhaps they never saw their own parents read, for whatever reason. Perhaps they were migrants and had difficulty reading English. Perhaps they had been turned off it at school. Perhaps they couldn’t read well at all.
I felt sorry for them. No doubt they are quite happy not being readers—but I began to think of all the richness they are missing out on as a result. As I write this, I am looking across at some laden bookshelves in my study. They contain a weird mixture of books—novels by my favourite authors, non-fiction by more of my favourite authors on a wide variety of topics such as writing, mentoring, spirituality, the Bible, prayer, intimacy with God, understanding ourselves, women in marriage and ministry, current issues facing the church, counselling, missions, and more. These books represent to me such a wealth of wisdom and so many pleasurable experiences from recent times and past years. I would not be the person I am today without having read them. And these young men, while they might not be interested in reading anything remotely like the books I read, are missing out on all that.
How blessed we are that somehow, somewhere, we gained a love of books! How did that happen for you? You might like to share that with us.
How blessed we all are to have such easy access to books, both electronic and hard copy, these days! Even if we can’t afford to buy many, libraries are free.
And how blessed those of us who write are to be able to create more books, thus leaving a legacy behind that someone might value in years to come!
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.