A Few Thoughts on the Perils of Reading


1 Beware the antiquarian mentality. That attitude which says ‘the older is better.’ Sometimes this degenerates into valuing old books simply as collector’s pieces.

2 Beware too the mentality which says ‘What’s newest is truest.’ Always waiting to see what the latest book on so and so says before making your mind up and so never making it up.

Beware the acquiring mentality. This produces tremendous bookcase consciousness; it breeds more of a concern about the number of books you have than the number you have read. Some people have ‘books on the brain’ and that is a disease. It is getting ‘books into the brain’ that produces growth.

4 Beware the escapist mentality. It is an awfully frustrating thing to live with a person who runs from the problem of the moment to the book of the moment and never comes to grip with either.

5 Beware – the greatest danger that besets the man who loves books – the borrowed thoughts mentality. There are people whose bookishness is a substitute for, rather than a stimulus to, their own thinking. It is not insignificant that this mentality often goes with spiritual barrenness.

Some thoughts on the “perils of reading” by Geraint Fielder in connection with an address given at the Evangelical Meeting of the Cardiff Branch of the Evangelical Library (England) in May of 1969. Fielder takes his starting point in two NT verses, the second of which forms the basis of these comments on the dangerous power of books and reading. That verse is Acts 19:19, “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”

Fielder also writes of the “values of reading” and we will take those up in a subsequent post in the near future. But for now, it is good to reflect on these perils. I have to admit, his points hit home to me. As a lover of books, it is easy to fall into these wrong mentalities.

I stumbled on this article in the March 1970 issue of The Banner of Truth magazine (#78) when sorting some boxes of back issues recently donated to the PRC Seminary library. When I saw this article on reading, I made a copy, intending to do a post on it sometime.

Published in: on April 9, 2019 at 11:02 PM  Comments (2)