In a recent post at his Church and Culture site, James Emery White quotes a monk in Normandy who wrote in 1170: “A monastery without a library [sine armario] is like a castle without an armory [sine armamentario]. Our library is our armory.”
White writes: “This was certainly the conviction of the apostle Paul, who even from his prison cell in Rome implored Timothy to be sure to bring him his books (2 Tim. 4:13). Reading is the foundation for intellectual development. It prepares us to think, for it is reading which allows us to understand and interpret the events of our day.
“The critical importance of reading reminds me of something I came across long ago—so long that the author now escapes me—but I recall it was a lament for a book never read. The loss of pages never turned, covers never opened, words never seen. A single book can deepen your understanding, expand your vision, sensitize your spirit, deepen your soul, ignite your imagination, stir your passions and widen your wisdom. There truly can be mourning for a book that is never read, mourning for the loss of what our lives could have held and could have accomplished.
“It is tempting to view the act of sitting down with a book—much less many books—as a luxury afforded those with unique schedules or privileged positions in life. In truth, it's available to us all. It's simply a matter of choice, or perhaps more accurately a series of choices.
“To read, you must first position yourself to read. I have learned to keep books around me. When I travel, when I take my car to have the oil changed, when I pick up my children from school, when I go to the doctor's office, I bring a book, journal or magazine. If you were to look around my home, you would see stacks of books everywhere: on the tables by the side of beds, on the floor by chairs.
“However, this reflects a deeper decision in relation to reading. Having a book at hand is only of use if I choose to spend available time reading it. Key to that choice is the word available. I know that in my life, the great opposition to reading is what I allow to fill my time instead of reading. To say we have no time to read is not really true; we have simply chosen to use our time for other things or have allowed our time to be filled to the exclusion of reading.
“The choice has to be made.” (Church & Culture)