On Books

By Caleb Keith


A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how I introduced analog writing tools (pen and paper to mere mortals) into the mess of things I carry with me every day. As I said in the blog, my move to carry such tools has been an amazingly useful and important decision. There is a magic that comes when pen meets paper and ideas flow onto the page. Recently, I have re-discovered an even greater magic, the magic of books (analog reading tools). On the pages of books, there are new worlds, profound ideas, and endless inspirations. I have so often in the past looked at books as a burden or as a step in a list that has to be conquered.

As a student, books are a part of my daily repertoire, they are assigned at the beginning of the semester. Those books hold the keys and the answers to my quizzes and tests, and since these books are treated as a step in a conveyer belt, they become hum-drum chores, a brick wall standing between me and an “A.” However, even the books assigned for classes are magic. Those books hold much more than the answers to my tests. Inside are priceless ideas, waiting to inform my thought and my life. From Homer and Cicero to Shakespeare and Lewis, my semester’s reading catalog has been full of amazing minds passing on their world to mine. What an amazing opportunity to read the works of such men and make their wisdom a fundamental part of my formation as a student!


My effort to look past the raw information of books and into the magic of the thing has been brought on by my father. He has advocated for the magic of books for a while now. However, I mostly chose to ignore him and decided that technology contained more magic. So that’s where I would spend my free time, with my face in a screen and not in the bound paper pages of books. Thanks to my dad’s continuous preaching, and the enthusiastic support of my Literature Professor Dr. John Norton, my eyes have been opened. I now see that books offer more than simple information, and in many ways have more magic in them than anything on the internet.

While, at times, digital books may suffice, the real magic is only fully retained by the paper editions. There is something distinct and powerful in the turning of pages, a physical connection between me and the words. There are also fewer distractions; on a tablet or computer distractions, noises, messages and emails pop up and steal my attention away from the book. With paper, there is no buzzing or beeping, just a crisp clutter-free page. There is also the added magic of my pen adding to the margins, collaborating with the thoughts of the author and labeling the things I want to share with those around me. Books are a bridge where author and reader meet in the middle and have a conversation.

Old Book. Selective focus

Perhaps the most amazing thing about books and words on paper is that God chooses to talk to us and reveal himself to us through words on a page. It is through the ancient books of the prophets and the apostles that we fear, love, and trust in God. God works through the magic of books making the Word come alive and bring life to us who are caught dead on the other side of its pages. In its reading and its preaching, God’s Word is efficacious delivering faith through hearing. The other books we come in contact with are reflections of this magic; they have power in their abilities to bring knowledge and joy to the reader. Books inform the new life we have been given in Christ and give us a means to share that life with the world. Thanks be to God for the magic of books and the precious gift of life preached from the pages of scripture, delivered on a cross through which our names are written in the Book of life.