“Read. Read constantly. Read the kind of stuff you wish you could write. Read until your brain creaks. Tolkien said that his ideas sprang up from the leaf mold of his mind: your readings are the trees where your fallen leaves would come from” (Wordsmithy,Wilson, 29).
All writing, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, is really just thinking put to paper. So it turns out that what we’re reading, we’re thinking about; and what we’re thinking about is what most shapes who we are. We are (or are becoming) what we read.
That’s one reason I love to ask people, especially people I respect and want to imitate, what books have most shaped your thinking and identity? Of course there is no substitute for actually getting face time with people, but the books they’ve read tell us a lot about them. When a person gives me a top ten list of their most impactful books, it is a great way for me to get to know them, to see the foundations of their life that so often lie beneath any visible surface. It’s also an opportunity to practice humility, because it forces me to stop talking about myself and listen to others.
In regard to my friend Davin, his death has made me ask that question, Who was he? What did he stand for, believe, and live? What ideas shaped him? He’s reawakening me to the truth that everyone’s life is a story to be told, read, and considered solemnly (some better than others). People are truly fascinating when you dig into them just a little bit.
Like Davin, great thoughts turn into great lives, and a life lived in excellence is what I’m after as a Christian man. You’ll never meet a great man who wasn’t first driven by a few great ideas. So you must read great books if you would have great thoughts, and you must have great thoughts if you would be a great man.
AND NOW, YOUR TURN
Now comes the interactive portion of the program. What makes it on your top ten book list—books that you would say have formed who you are? Just state your name and make a list, it’s that simple. Trust me, it’s worth the time spent thinking about what ideas have molded your life. And I am assuming for many the answer is “the Bible.” Don’t put that; I promise I won’t think of you as any less spiritual. Thanks for sharing!