This Sunday, April 23 is World Book Day, a global celebration of reading, authors, and books, recognized in over 100 countries worldwide.
Books and bookstores have had an enormous influence on my own life. My first youth pastor did me a huge favor—he gave me a key to his office, so I could go in any time and read his books, hundreds of them. I read everything I could get my hands on. There was an elderly couple in our church who had a Christian bookstore in their house in Gresham, Oregon, my hometown. I would go there several days a week, for hours at a time. They would point out books for me to read. They introduced me to Lewis, Schaeffer, and Tozer, and books such as Tortured Wonders, God's Smuggler, Through Gates of Splendor, and The Cross and the Switchblade.
Over the years I've bought and read portions or all of thousands of books. Ultimately, loving to read has helped me become a better writer. Our worldviews permeate our writing, and if all we soak in is popular culture, a few hours a week at church won’t be sufficient to give us depth and durability. We need to read quality books by great Christian thinkers. I cannot divorce God’s works of grace in my life from good books! (In this excerpt from my book Heaven, I talk about books the Bible says are now in Heaven, and I give arguments for believing other books will be written and read on the New Earth.)
And of course, no book is more important than the Bible, God’s own words. Richard Baxter advised, “Make careful choice of the books which you read: let the Holy Scriptures ever have the preeminence. Let Scripture be first and most in your hearts and hands and other books be used as subservient to it.” Charles Spurgeon said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”
In this video clip from a session at a Desiring God National Conference I spoke at several years ago, I share some thoughts about the importance of reading.