I once caught a friend of mine hiding a book under her skirt.
I could have pretended not to notice but that’s not my style. So I asked what she was hiding.
She wouldn’t share.
I could have walked away but, again, that’s not my style.
I was a sprinter, an athlete. She was dainty, an intellectual. I don’t think she saw me coming when I darted toward her skirt and grabbed the book.
I knew it had to be something juicy, salacious. Maybe it was her diary or, worse, one of those Mills and Boon books that everybody was reading at the time.
It wasn’t either of those things.
It was just Gifted Hands by Ben Carson.
I quickly flipped through the book in case there were any secret letters or pictures hidden in the pages. There weren’t any. It really was just Gifted Hands by Ben Carson.
Why would anybody hide such a boring looking book? It didn’t even have pictures.
I pestered her for an answer.
She wouldn’t budge. She just stood, glaring with her eyebrows firmly clenched. I returned the book to her but wouldn’t leave without an answer.
Why was she hiding such a boring book under her skirt?
I’m not sure which was more disappointing: her answer to the question or the discovery that the book was just Gifted Hands.
Apparently, her dad had given her the book as a gift. He had also given her instructions not to share the book with friends. If she did, he cautioned, her friends might become smarter than she was because “reading books was what made people smart”.
I was skeptical about her dad’s logic but I went out of my way to read Gifted Hands just in case. I couldn’t stand to let her be smarter than me.
A lot of time has passed since those days in middle school.
And I’m still skeptical about whether reading books actually makes people smart. After all, it’s entirely possible that smart people just tend to read books (correlation not causation).
Regardless of what books do for us though, I know one thing for sure.
Reading books solves problems.
As you’ll soon see, I’ve had many many problems in the past several months and I’ve read many many books to try to fix them. Look at problem #1 for instance:
Problem #1: Questioning the existence of God
What if God doesn’t exist? Can I trust that my choices matter? Is Christianity true?
Book: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist
FYI: I liked that the authors skipped the spiritual mumbo-jumbo and provided an intellectual, intelligent, and interesting point of view.
This book answered a lot of questions for me.
Problem #2: Feeling like a failure
Book: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big in Life
FYI: I wasn’t expecting this book to actually deliver on its title (and it didn’t).
But I was okay with that because it gave me the camaraderie that I needed to get through my funk. It also didn’t hurt that the author is the Dilbert guy.
Problem #3: Stalling on becoming an author
Book: If You Want to Write, Write
FYI: I’ve listened to this book 3 times in the past 8 months.
It’s the only book on writing that I’ve ever read and I think I’ll keep re-reading it until my manuscript is complete.
Problem #4: Struggling with perfectionism
Book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?
FYI: This book is for daughters of narcissistic mothers.
Even though my mother is obviously not a narcissist (she’s actually quite hilarious), I found this book to be incredibly educational. It helped me better understand my intolerance for mistakes and things I perceive as stupid.
Problem #5: Fear of becoming proud
Book: Humility: True Greatness
FYI: I’ll have to re-read this book because, quite frankly, I don’t remember what was in it.
Problem #6: Discomfort with the dissonance between what the Bible says and what Christians actually do
Are we really supposed to rely on God for physical things like cars? What does it look like to do the impossible things the Bible asks?
Book: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
FYI: This book is not for the faint of heart.
It is challenging, interesting, and actionable. I would love to have friends that go to church where Francis Chan preaches.
Problem #7: Uncertainty about how to make my marriage last
Book: Why Marriages Succeed or Fail
FYI: Let me tell you one of the ideas in this book.
For every negative interaction you have with somebody you love, you must counterbalance with at least five positive interactions. This is the formula for lasting relationships.
Simple yet mind-mindbogglingly practical. Awesome book!
If you have any of the problems I’ve mentioned here, do not procrastinate on getting these books. They are the real deal. Go on Amazon and get them.
Since we’re on the topic, I asked my friends, Heather and Jackie, what they are reading and they had some terrific suggestions.
They’re loving: Fire Starter Sessions, Start Something that Matters, and You Squared.
For every problem there is a book on Amazon, Audible, or at your local library. You just have to find the right one and read it. Who knows, it might even make you smarter too.