Happily Blundering Along

Mark Zuckerberg, the chairman and chief executive officer of Facebook recently announced that his new year’s resolution is to read more books. Our own Bill Bagents has some thoughts on reading that we think you’ll enjoy.

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Books and I get along well. Even new ones often feel like old and happy friends.  They don’t object when you read their every word.  They’re just as compliant if you skip around or save certain sections for the next rainy day.  They’ll wait on you if you get too busy. Sometimes, they even stay where you put them.  It’s amazing how things without feet or wings move around so much.

The diversity of books astounds me—even of books within a particular genre or field.  Being a sometimes counselor, I’ve been known to plunder in the Marriage and Family Resource Center at Heritage Christian University.  There’s always something new, but the old stuff can still pique my interest too.

If you ever happily blunder along among books, you’ll know what I mean.  Among the books, time seems to stand still.  “I’ll look for only ten minutes” is never much true.   It’s ten minutes here, five there, and two yonder. And the time always seems well-spent.

Where do they get those titles, and I don’t mean “where were the purchases made?” Who thinks of these things?  Don’t Let Jerks Get the Best of You.  Which came first, the title or the content?  How many of the titles came from marketing experts versus the mind of the author? Does it matter if the title helped you choose to look and find a gem of insight?

The Husband Project.  Do most wives view their husbands as projects?  On our better days, we’ll admit that we need more than a little work.  If I’m a project, how am I coming?  Is there hope for BIG improvement, or is too much already set in stone?

Why Women Shouldn’t Marry.  Is this one literal or paradoxical?  If literal, what’s on the list of reasons?  How many of those reasons would fit me to a T?  If paradoxical, what a concept!  What a vehicle for telling ladies how to practice self-defense and critical thinking in the process of mate selection?  Could it have both literal and paradoxical elements?  How cool would that be…

Stop Signs: Recognizing, Avoiding, and Escaping Abusive Relationships.  Should it be read before or after Don’t Let Jerks Get the Best of You?  Will it be Dragnet dry—just the facts ma’am?  Will it move us to tears as we read stories of unspeakable pain?  Will it make our hearts soar as we hear about the amazing courage that it takes to escape multigenerational cycles of pain?  I want to know. Somehow life will be better—maybe I will be better—if I know.

Coping with Difficult People.  Will we really learn how?  Maybe the book will serve as a mirror; we’ll come to see ourselves more accurately. Sometimes the difficult person is us. If it is a mirror, will it help us change?  You know from experience that some books have that power.

So many books, so little time. There’s the one about the twins, one that society considers “normal.” Yes, it’s fine to ask, “Says who?” and “How can you know?” The other is deemed functionally impaired. “Who’s not?”  “To what degree and in what ways?”  “Aren’t we all?’  Labels are challenged. New and broader thoughts make us step back and examine our assumptions.

There’s the one about the parents who thought they should hide their son’s physical deformity.  What courage to test and reject that errant and harmful approach!  Letting their son’s “issues” move them to educate, challenge, and encourage other parents opened doors of tremendous influence.

The Shelter of Each Other.  That’s where I met Mary Pipher—the wise lady that most meet through Reviving Ophelia. Having met and been blessed, there was no temptation to ignore Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders. Each book radically different, but each way cool, offering food for the soul.

And that’s just one section of one library.  How many adventures and discoveries lie ahead?  Should I ask for recommendations?  I don’t mean to be rude, but “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is stunningly true with literature. Might my well-intentioned friends steer me wrong without even knowing It? Might I need more or  less steering than I realize?

I’ll take the recommendations, but with a grain of salt.  Maybe I’[l even remember to make my recommendations with salt in hand.  I’m happily blundering along, finding energy in the journey.  Education is too precious a process to stop.  –Bill Bagents