Last evening I had a chance to look over what was left of the books that had been donated for the book sale at TBS, but by this time any “good” books that had been there were long gone.
One of the students told me that what was left was free and for good reason! How right he was!
But bookworm that I am… I thought I should at least take a quick look at the selection just in case there was a gem that everyone else had missed. What a shame that would be!
As my eyes scanned the tables I got thinking about what makes a book a “good one” that everyone wants and what makes a book something people don’t want even if it is free.
I found the question particularly interesting because each of the books on the table had been written and published by someone who obviously believed there was some value in it.
Surveying the selections I saw books written by famous evangelists and ones who had disgraced themselves by their conduct. Books by pastors and theologians and downright heretics!
There were books on topics that were considered trendy at the time but now seem silly in retrospect.
There were the doomsday books about coming millennial meltdowns and the like that never did materialize although it made for interesting “Christian” television and magazine articles at the time.
Then there were books of an eschatological nature (with apologies to the word eschatological) that are more accurately described as pseudo-scientific fiction, although don’t tell those who still take this kind of stuff seriously!
And no list would be complete without biographies of the “stars” of the Christian universe whose persons and ministries seemed so big and important at the time but whose impact has already been judged miniscule by history. Not to mention the latest theories of counseling and how to be successful in marriage, in the family, with your money, and in the never ending battle with your waistline.
Indeed, of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body (Ecclesiastes 12:12).
Ok, enough complaining, back to my original question: what makes a good book?
A good book is one that grapples with the questions of life or tells a life-story but does so conscious of the ultimate meta-narrative of God and his glory which is linked to the reason we were created.
This is what enables a book and it's author to transcend their tiny place on the stage of human history and contribute something that stands the test of time and is valuable to people who read it long after they have left this mortal realm.
Something to remember as we go about our daily work. Only what magnifies the name of the triune God will last, all the rest will prove to be a waste of time and worthless in the end!
But then, we already know that… don’t we…