Sep 20, 2016

Bookish Thoughts || Discussion


"What are your favorite fiction books that have really impacted you?"

I stared at the email, thinking, pondering.  My eyes scanned over the question again.  What is a fiction book that has really impacted me?  The question caught me off-guard.  Impacted me?  When does a book actually change your life?  Aren't books for relaxing and enjoying yourself?





Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."


I've heard so many times that movies are a waste of our time.  Video games are a waste of our time.  The internet is a waste of our time.  Worrying is a waste of our time.  The list goes on and on.

It seems like anything you do that fails to inform, uplift, or bring you closer to your friends/family in some way is useless and time wasting.  But there's one thing that no one mentions...

Books.

As my friend threw the question at me, it got me thinking.  Already God had put this thought on my heart, but now I was forced to dig deeper.  

How many books have actually made a difference in my life?  As I sat down to think about the question, I was shocked.  I could only think of THREE books that had impacted me.  Three.

I have read hundreds - maybe thousands - of books.  From easy reads like Charlotte's Web to never-ending novels like The Scarlet Letter, I've spend days of my life just sitting on the couch with a book in hand.  But for some reason, no one ever told me that I could be wasting my time.  I was learning, right?  I was learning vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and how to create my own stories.  Doesn't that prove that reading is a good usage of my time?

What if those hours were wasted?

No, I can't say that reading is worthless.  Books can do incredible things!  Several ones in particular have pointed me towards Jesus, encouraged me, and shown me Biblical truth.  They have change my life for the better.  Helped me love Jesus more.  Shown me areas where I could pray and ask for a heart more like His.  Books also DO teach you how to become a better writer.  You can gain knowledge from the authors who have gone before you!  You can learn how to create unique characters and fast-paced plots.  I am very thankful for my childhood of reading and pouring over written words.

But I realized that so many of the books that I have read were truly a waste of my time.  They didn't change my life.  They didn't point me to Jesus.  They were only there to fill my time and provide entertainment.

Think of books like Little House on the Prairie.  I really enjoyed those books as a young reader.  They threw me into the pioneering days with Indians, covered wagons, and simple, humble people searching for a home.  But did those books change my life?  Other than teaching me about history, did I gain anything from reading them?

I've noticed that so many others are under the same impression.  We have to read books to fit in.  We don't want to be the odd ball that only reads Christian books.  We want our Goodreads to constantly be updated with our newest updates.  We want our peers to see all the awesome books we are reading.  We want to impress them.  And, after all, reading is fun!

Perhaps you haven't been convicted of this.  That's fine!  If this is not a struggle that you experience, I congratulate you. =)  But I think that we, as Christians, should take the time to examine our books and reading life.

Are the books we read glorifying to God?Could the time we spend reading be used in a better way?Is reading becoming our idol?Is it pulling us away from the real world around us, our family, or God?Are we choosing books that will impact us and point us towards our Savior?Do the books we read show sin as being "okay" and "acceptable?"

I don't have all the answers. As I think and pray through this in my own life, I would love to start a discussion in the comments.  I would be delighted if some of you would share what God has been showing you in this area.  In the process, we could all get to know one another and share what He has been showing us.

Here are some discussion starters, but ultimately please share what God has put on your heart.

What is your take on reading?  Is it a good usage of your time?  Overall, should we be spending hours every day on this pastime?

What are your standards on books?  What factors immediately make you put a book down?  Have you ever been "forced" to read an ungodly book, such as for school?  How do you honor God in your reading?

I encourage you to comment on one another's thoughts as well. =)  This is supposed to be both fun and encouraging!

45 comments:

  1. Hmmmm, this is definitely something to think on. ;) Thanks Hosanna!

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    1. I'm glad that it challenged you, Faith! =)

      Just wondering...what does your reading life look like? What books do you enjoy? My favorite is historical fiction...which can give me the excuse that hey - I'm learning English AND History! =P Lol. I have been fascinated by how many captivating and unbelievable stories God has written throughout the pages of history...it's amazing!! And thinking how the Bible - the Book written by God Himself - is the best selling, most well-known Book of all...it really humbles authors. ;)

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    2. My favorite is historical fiction as well!! I would say that my reading life isn't as 'strict' as some. (I don't mean strict in a bad way, I just can't think of a better word to describe.) 90-something percent of what I read is Christian. I do read romance, but I have a limit to how much I'll take before ditching the book. A love story that's sweet and good I find enjoyable though. ^_^ I don't read much fantasy because I'm not big on the magic that usually comes with it, but I have enjoyed some. :)
      Probably more of an answer than you wanted, but that sums it up!

      Oh, yes, very humbling to authors!!

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    3. Your standards of reading are very similar to mine. =) I do enjoy a sweet, love story as long as the author portrays it in a clean, pure way. It's very disappointing at how many books there are with graphic content that truly isn't pleasing to God. =( I struggled with finding the right authors, but I think I can say that I have found a select few. =) And yes, I do tend to stay away from fantasy - except Narnia. Narnia is one of the few books that has led me closer to Jesus. ♥

      Is there a book that has led you closer to Jesus? I would love to know so that I could spend my time reading more worthwhile books. =)

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    4. I'll have pick up the Chronicles of Narnia to read sometime then. :) I have two of them, the collectors edition with beautiful pictures. <3

      Oh, that's a tough question for me. :P Are we talking fiction or none fiction? For fiction, definitely "The Battle Plan for Prayer" by Alex & Stephen Kendrick (my review is on GR if you're interested :)). And then for fiction, I would say Janette Oke's books and also several of Sarah Sundin's. They have such deep and strong faith themes! Aside from falling love with each other, her characters also grow in God over the course of the book. :)

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    5. Good idea! I do love Narnia. ♥

      Thank you for the suggestions. =) I added them to my "to read" list. I really appreciate you sharing ones that really impacted you...instead of entertaining you. =) Though it is best when books accomplish both. ;) I also like Janette Oke's books, though they haven't impacted me a lot. Dana's Valley is a favorite that I just loved...but it was so very sad. =) I struggled to finish the book between my tears. ♥

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    6. Ah, yes, Dana's Valley. I have a pretty copy of that one from Thriftbooks, but I haven't read it yet. :) Soon!

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    7. It is lovely! =) I hope you enjoy it. ♥ *tears*

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  2. Lovely post, Hosanna! And something hard to think about, for us bookworms. ;)
    I agree- reading is a great thing to do, but we shouldn't spend ALL of our spare time on it, especially books that we read for fun. Of course, there's nothing wrong with reading books for fun. And of course, there's books that we can read for fun that we do benefit from. But still, I think we should also be pursuing books that truly will impact us, make us stop and think, make us reflect.
    In my personal reading, I try to avoid romance books, and books where ungodly content is glorified (such as witchcraft). It sure is hard to put down an unfinished book, though! No book is completely free from that, but it's important not to be filling up your mind with unnecessary things like that. ;) Of course, books like the Chronicles of Narnia are different, because they don't glorify that kind of thing. I was so blessed to be able to help select some of my high school literature books, and it is possible to read good ones! I'm excited for some upcoming ones such as biographies. :)
    Anyway, sorry for this long, rambling comment, and thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post!

    //Emily

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    1. Thank you fellow bookworm! I mean, Emily! =) Hehe

      That is awesome that you picked your own high-school books. =) I have experienced not being able to pick mine and then reading long, not-so-interesting ones. =P LOL.

      What are your thoughts on good, Christian books that still don't impact you? For instance...Janette Oke is one of my favorite authors, but I have read some of hers that didn't convict me. They were lovely, delightful stories that were all clean and wholesome...but after it was over I didn't feel closer to God or like I gained anything from reading them. (I'm not saying that they are bad!! They might convict and bless other people! I LOVE her books. =) ) What should we do in those situations? It doesn't hurt to read them, but could it be a waste of time? I've really been thinking hard about this... wondering... praying... and hoping that they are still a good usage of my time. =) Does that make sense?

      On the other hand, do we want to be stiff-necked, "boring", Christians who only read biographies and non-fiction? Where is the balance? I'm sure I don't know! =)

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    2. So since you said we should feel free to comment on others comments I thought I would join you and Emily's discussion. =) I completely agree with this whole post! It's something I've been convicted of recently as well. My thoughts would be that it is not wrong to read books that aren't impactful, but if that is the main type of book that you read (ones that may be completely wholesome, but just not impacting to your life) I think you should re-consider how you're spending your time. For example, I just ordered Anne of Green Gables to watch again. I love that movie and yet it doesn't impact my life. I think it is completely fine to watch a fun movie like that every once in a while, but if movie's like that are the main type of movie that I watch (we actually hardly ever watch a movie...but:) I would say yes, it is a waste of my time. I think the same for books. I don't feel that in of it's self it is wrong to read a completely wholesome fun book, but if that is the main kind of book that you read (books that aren't impactful) I think I would consider my priorities again. I feel like for myself (I'm just sharing my thoughts for myself so please don't feel that I'm forcing anything on you!) I'm going to make a goal to read and watch impactful books and movies, but if I want read a book or watch a movie that's just a fun one that would be fine as long as that's not the majority of what I read or watch. And I think even so we should moderate our reading time and movie watching and make sure it's not taking away from spending time with family, encouraging others, and serving. (i mean technically you could be serving anytime you're reading, but just not spending so much time reading that that's the main thing you do) And as for how to find books or movies like that...that's a hard one. I think carefully considering each book/movie that you want to read is very good. Thinking...does this book seem to surround around a person's faith/trusting in God/following God? It's also very helpful to ask others about books/movies that have impacted their lives! But I think we also can't get too frustrated when we think a book is going to be impactful and it really isn't. I'm kind of just writing what I'm thinking right now...;) And also I think that if we honestly can't seem to find books that impact us it's definitely fine to read books with a very good message just not necessarily an impactful one...just limit those a little bit. And hehe...this comment is getting extremely long, but I think for myself I'm not going to make Janette Oke the main author that I read books by, but if I feel like I want to read some of her books that's okay as long as they're not the main kind of books that I read. Am I making any sense? Hehe. ;) So...anyway there is my loooong comment! ;D

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    3. Of my word. That is the longest comment I've ever seen!!! ;;;D

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    4. Haha...that's okay. =) Some of my replies have gotten quite lengthy. I'm enjoying having a discussion down here though. ;)

      That is a very good summary! I haven't really thought of it like that. While we should be seeking out inspirational and encouraging things to fill our minds, I think it has the possibility to become an idol. If we force ourselves not to read just fun books, maybe we are being too strict. It's so hard when you have to be picky but not too strict. =P It is good to remember that we should not be legalistic but loving in everything we do.

      As Jessica mentioned, we should look at the books we read and consider, "where does it draw our thoughts?" Does it make you jealous about something or someone? Does it make you wish that you were in the fictional realm? Does it give you unholy thoughts? Does it teach you that sin is "okay?" If we considered this with every book we read, I believe that it would help us grow stronger to God. And it's vital to remember that even wonderful, Christian books might give you wrong thoughts. (especially romances) We shouldn't be letting these into our hearts.

      Great thoughts, Hannah. =) And thank you for sparking the idea that made me convicted about this in the first place. =) Hehe. It would have been so much easier if you hadn't though. =P Conviction isn't always very fun, is it?

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  3. Such great points and such an incredible, thought-provoking post! This inspired me to think about others things in my life, that I'm not benefiting from. Thank you! :)

    With love and all joy,
    Allie D.
    www.alliesblogdesigns.blogspot.com
    www.friendlovesatalltimes.blogspot.com
    www.sincerelyallied.blogspot.com
    www.spreadingmyjoy.blogspot.com

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    1. That's so awesome that God used this post to make you start examining your own life, Allie! If you don't mind my asking, what are some things that you struggle with not taking up too much time in your life? I know that the internet is a huge time waster on my part...mainly because I often forget to make my time on email/blogs really worthwhile by encouraging, loving, and sharing God with others. That's something that I need to re-evaluate in my life. If I spend so much time online, it has to be God-honoring. =)

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    2. I guess that TV, social media, and video games take up a part of my time. Those are the main things that take up most of my time. I definitely didn't mind you asking!

      Just wanted to let you know, I featured you, and this post, this past Friday, for Featured Friday, on my blog Spreading My Joy. I hope you don't mind! :)

      With love and all joy,
      Allie D.
      www.alliesblogdesigns.blogspot.com
      www.friendlovesatalltimes.blogspot.com
      www.sincerelyallied.blogspot.com
      www.spreadingmyjoy.blogspot.com

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    3. Thank you Allie. =) I don't mind at all!

      Very true! We don't have TV, so it isn't much of a distraction to us. ;) But I can see how social media can be so time consuming and very hard to break the habit of spending too much time on it. =( It's wrong when we find ourselves seeking joy from media instead of God.

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  4. Hmmm some great questions to ask ourselves...

    Even going back to one of the most simple book-related questions: "Why do I read?" I could quickly blurt out "Because I like it" and that would probably be the truest answer for me, because it's the answer I'm quickest to give when I'm not even thinking. But is it glorifying to God to read just because "I like it"? And by that I mean does it serve to advance God's Kingdom? To answer my own question, I think not. It serves *my* kingdom and *my* purposes by entertaining me, but it does nothing for His Kingdom.

    BUT that's all referring to my default; what I go to when I'm switched off. What if I want to be intentional. I think that's where things get fun. X) Could reading serve God's Kingdom? I mean, part of me really wants to FIT IT IN somewhere - to MAKE it serve His Kingdom. lol. But in all seriousness, is there a way that reading can serve His Kingdom for selfless purposes?

    Well for starters, I think that if I can somehow narrow in on wholesome literature (including fiction) that honours God - if I can somehow find and read that sort of good material - then maybe I can learn from it as a writer myself. As a young person aspiring to write fiction that glorifies God and edifies my readers, maybe one of the best things I could do is read books by other writers that fit the description. But I think that I need the help of others to do this best. I could be much more efficient and less wasteful of my time by learning from others who have gone before me and who have already identified books that are truly honouring to God and books that are "sweet" and entertaining, but somewhat a waste of time.

    And then there's another question: What is the standard of a truly good book? How does one determine what is pleasing to God?

    The conversation could go on and on and on...

    Thanks for getting us started here, Hosanna! X)

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    1. Wow, Jordy! With every new comment, I find myself looking at a totally different aspect in this area of life. =) Lol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      That is EXACTLY what I did!!! I sat staring at my bookshelf thinking, Well...I don't have to give up reading, per se. I can just make sure not to read unwholesome books. I can read more Christian books and think about them deeper. That should be enough for God. Ha. Immediately I realized the mistake. It's not "enough" for God. I should be willing to give up everything for Him. Not "enough." =P If God tells me, I should completely STOP reading. But it's so hard. *sigh* I wanted to make it "fit in" somewhere, as you said.

      But yes! Sometimes we can actually bless others while reading! For example, when a young writer wants someone to read their book, encourage them, and give them tips, I can serve them while reading their book! =) Even though their pieces aren't professional and maybe lack a good plot, I can be a blessing to them. AND, occasionally, you do find a blossoming author whose book is really worth reading in itself. (like yours!) That is one way you can be be encouraging and uplifting to others through your time reading.

      As authors, it seems like we also are almost "required" to read. It helps us in our own writing experiences! But we can strive to create pieces that will impact others and point them to God. That is one reason that I love to write. =)

      On the matter of picking truly good books, I agree! Reviews from other Christian friends are priceless. Taking the time to ask, "Were you blessed by this book?" can help you find a wonderful read. I know that I've been able to find good choices because of recommendations from friends. =)

      Oh dear. Don't get into that, Jordy! Haha. What IS a good book? That's what I'm still asking myself. =P Lol. Any thoughts? =)

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    2. Exactly! I want to think about how much I can possibly live for God rather than how much is satisfactory. Personally, I'm convicted that for me to ask "How much is enough?" is for me to miss the point - to ask the wrong question. However, even in saying so, I know I fall short of that standard because when I think of giving up reading altogether (should God convict me of it)... well I just- even the thought makes me feel pretty uncomfortable. Does that all make sense?

      So now I'm asking myself how I can have a deeper love for God. What needs to change so that *if* I was asked to give up reading for the sake of God's kingdom, it would be my deep delight to do so. What are your thoughts on this?

      Honestly, I hadn't even thought about reading the books of other budding writers to encourage them as a way of reading that honours God. But yes, it's true! Can you think of other ways that it might bless others to read? Maybe if someone desired a reading partner for a particular book? (Also, I got your sneaky compliment in there. That's so sweet of you, Hosanna. Thank you!)

      Ummmm? What is a truly impactful book? I think (*think*) that maybe it has to do with how the character's walk with God is transformed over the course of the book. And to a certain degree, I think that the degree to which I connect with a character will determine the degree to which their transformation "transfers" to me. Does that make sense? Anyway... that's getting pretty technical. Do you think it takes away from the "magic" of reading - to analyse it in such detail?

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    3. It does make sense, Jordy...because I felt the same way. Instead of being joyful to give up something for God, I immediately made excuses. It made me uncomfortable and almost scared...scared because I didn't want to trade it for something deeper and more meaningful.

      I suppose it all depends on our relationship with God. We should be willing - eager even - to give up anything for Him. We should love Jesus so much that to give up something we love is a joy, not a disappointment and trial. How do we get to this point? I'm not sure. I know some areas in my own life that need work...namely my prayer life. What about you?

      Yes, there are ways to encourage people through reading. Encouraging an author is just one way... but what about reading a book recommended by a new friend? That might give you the opportunity to open up a conversation with them, talking about what you liked or disliked about the book. Especially in new friendships when you might still feel uncomfortable, it could prove to be a blessing. I'm sure there are other situations that God could open up as well. =)

      Analyzing the books we read is one thing that is greatly lacking in our world. I have found myself reading inspirational, amazing books and then laying it down, merely turning to the next one. It's sad. Taking the time to think, what can I learn from this book? What can I gain from the character's adventure? makes reading not only a fun experience but also beneficial. Even reading a non-fiction devotional flippantly is useless. I don't think it would take the "magic" out of the book...I think it would deepen the experience. Doing this at the end of a book might make a good book truly meaningful. Even if it wasn't a Christian book, it still has the power to influence you towards God as you think through the story. Did the character grow in one way? How might the story have changed if he had let God rule his life? What can I do to show God’s love to people like the main character?

      I've enjoyed this discussion with you greatly. =)

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    4. Areas in my life that need work... I would say my prayer life, too, as well as being authentic no matter who I'm with and what they believe. It's a good question to consider. It helps me to think about how I can grow.

      I really like what you wrote about analyzing books. I appreciated your point about how analyzing books that aren't distinctly "Christian" books has the power to spur us on to God. Maybe that speaks to one of the original questions - what our standards are (or should be). Perhaps I would gain less spiritually by mindlessly reading only books with overtly Christian themes than I would by by reading non Christian books, too, but asking the right questions. Sometimes I feel like I go around and around! But in any case, it's good to share our thoughts.

      I've enjoyed this discussion with you, too, my friend. x)

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    5. I agree Jordy. One time I read a fantastic fiction book that really impacted me...but after reading it, instead of analyzing it and considering how to put it into action, I read another book. Needless to say, it didn't change my life as much as it could have. Instead of letting it soak in, I crowded out the message with another book that had a not as important story-line. Taking the time to pray-fully consider how to apply what you read would really benefit the message of the story. Maybe that is also why Goodreads is a helpful tool...it helps you go back and think over what you read. Anyway, that was a good reminder for me - one I often forget. =)

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    6. Sadly, I tend to not analyze books. I think it's safe to say of humans in general - but I will own it for myself - that we often tend towards what is easiest. To analyze takes more thought and - by extension - more effort. So I tend not to analyze books. It's what I default to without even thinking.

      Writing monthly book reviews has proved to encourage me towards analyzing what I read. When I start typing my words into Goodreads (where I initially write my book reviews) I have a new urge to explain my surface thoughts - particularly when I know that other people can access them. I find that I can go deeper and deeper. I'm exploring my own standards and reasoning! Often I find that I would write much, *much* more, were I not trying to be considerate of the dear people who might read my reviews.

      Anyway, did you ever go back and read that book that you mentioned? What's it called and who is it by? I might be interested in reading it if ever I get the chance.

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    7. Oh yes...I definitely stray towards what is easiest. It's way too easy to do school just for the grade, read just for fun, etc. =/

      Lol, I do the same thing. I don't want to be harsh on authors because even if I disliked their book, they still spent hours and hours creating it. To say "it was horrible"... =( I can't do that with young, inspiring authors. It's much easier with experienced writers who already have dozens of reviews.

      Hmm...do you mean the one I mentioned above that had the potential to impact me? That one was called A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker. It is the second book in a series, but I didn't appreciate the first one as much. =) I think that's the book you are referring to. Another series that I want to go back and reread is Elsie Dinsmore. ♥ She is a sweet, Godly girl who goes from her young childhood days to marriage and widowhood, always trusting God. I enjoyed that series greatly, and now my little sister is reading them and loving them. =)

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    8. Yes, that's true about writing reviews! It's hard to know how to go about it sometimes. And to say that an author spent hours on a book is really an understatement. So...

      Oh yes, I do believe I already marked Ted Dekker's A.D. 33 as "want to read" on Goodreads. Unfortunately, I don't know *how* I would ever go about reading the second book without having read the first! Would you say number one is discouraging to a God-honoring life, or just not edifying? Also, I marked the first Elsie Dinsmore book as "want to read". I eat up edifying book suggestions from Christian friends whom I trust!

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    9. Lol...true! The first book is summarized in the second book's introduction. I read A.D. 33 without knowing that it was a book #2. =) Thus, it didn't bother me.

      Okay, about A.D. 30. I wouldn't say that it was dishonoring to God per se. It just contained some adult content that I didn't appreciate at my age. If I was a married adult I probably wouldn't have a problem with it. However, I like to read only very light romance without any form of physical touch. (a kiss is okay...but I think you get my meaning) There was just a little bit of content that made me squirm. Of course, it depends on your view on romance in books.

      I really appreciate your devotion to having a pure, upright heart and being selective in what you read, Jordy! ♥

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    10. That said, I would gladly read A.D. 33 without having read A.D. 30. I don't believe all romance is bad for all people - or even for all singles. But I do recognize a weakness in myself personally such that when I read romance I tend to get discontent with my own life. Thanks for your help.

      ...and I really appreciate your helping me make good selections! You're a gem. :)

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    11. Oh yes...it is especially a struggle after watching a movie with a cute character in it. *sigh* When the movie ends, you find yourself stuck back in reality, realizing that the handsome, charming guy was...well, an actor. =/ That is one reason why it is good to avoid too many forms of entertainment that take us away from the real world.

      I appreciate you too - more than you know!! ♥♥

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    12. Yes - agreed!

      And thank you, my friend. <3

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  5. Great post, Hosanna. :)
    It can sometimes be hard to find a good balance for reading. It's fun to read and to learn about stuff, but we do also need to make sure that we're spending time with God and our family too. :)

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    1. By the way, Hosanna, I just wanted to let you know that I tagged you for the Pray for People and Country Tag. If you'd like to participate here is the link: http://rebekahashleigh.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-pray-for-people-and-country-tag.html
      I know you don't do a whole lot of tag posts, so if you'd rather not do it, no worries. :)

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    2. Oh Rebekah!! You don't know how excited I am to do that tagged post. You see, there are so many tags going around, but this is the first that is based not off of our love for books, writing, or our favorite pastimes, but off of our love for Jesus! Thank you for sharing. =) I hope to post it tomorrow if my time permits. =)

      I agree! I can see many people (sometimes myself) who spend so much time reading that they completely ignore their families. I wonder if some consider books as a closer friend than a sibling? It's an intriguing thought. At one point, I felt as if God was asking me which was more important - Him or my pastime of reading. It was actually a hard decision, horrible as it is. But once you give up these trivial things, I believe God will become closer and dearer to your heart. =)

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  6. Love this post, Hosanna! You made a lot of good points - I enjoyed reading this!

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    1. Savannah, I'm thankful that you enjoyed the post. I hope you can take the time to examine your own life and see if God is calling you to make any necessary changes... painful as it might be. =)

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  7. Wow, Hosanna. I don't think many people think as deeply about these issues as you do. And that is such a good thing you do! You give thought-provoking posts like this that make us really THINK--why do we do what we do? Are we doing it for us, or for God?
    I'm not a regular just sit-down-and-read-a-book type. But yeah, you're so right in saying that we need to examine what books we DO read! It's like media; are we using it as a tool or a toy? I find that some of the books I have read are 'toy' books; books that won't really further my search of the treasures of God's kingdom.
    Also, I just wanted to comment on that question you asked Emily. Now, this is just my personal opinion *smile*, but here goes.
    I think that clean, Christian books that are enjoyable to read (even if they don't truly impact you) are okay to read. I think that God wants us to enjoy those sorts of books--in moderation. If it's starting to take away time from Him, from family, from working for His kingdom...I would say, if that was me, I would need to start prayerfully considering cutting down on reading time. But that's just my own opinion. =)
    And you know what? I think reading this post is going to change how I write MY story, the one about the gypsy and the prison guard (if you even remember me telling you about that =))
    Thank you for posting this, Hosanna!!
    -Ariel

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    1. Ariel!!!!! That is so, so exciting! I do remember you mentioning your book about the gypsy and the prison guard. I'm ecstatic that you are open to hearing God's voice and write what HE wants. It only heightens my excitement to read your book one day. =) I'm so proud of you!!

      I hope you were quoting Narnia right there?? "These are tools...not toys." -Father Christmas. *sigh* Sorry...one of my favorite movies. =) But yes, that is a very good way to put it. We enjoy toys. They make us happy. They make us feel good. But do they actually help us? Do they point us to Jesus?

      And guess what? I've been thinking the exact same thing for media! (I actually went and wrote a "speech" about it for a group I'm in! Lol) Maybe I should address that one day too. ;)

      Great thoughts on reading clean books that might not be as convicting as others. While they can still prove to be a blessing, we should make sure that they don't become our idols. =)

      Thank you for you oh-so-sweet comment! =)

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    2. *highfives Hosanna for quoting Narnia*

      ~ Savannah
      scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    3. *high-fives back* But Ariel started it. ;) Hehe. *high-fives both of you*

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  8. Wow, I've actually been thinking a lot about this topic recently! So your post and thought provoking questions are really timely. :) I also liked how you applied that verse about redeeming the time, not just spending it.

    Personally, I think reading can be a good use of time, but that doesn't mean all reading is a good use of time. I think if a book communicates a truth about God, or a biblical moral, then it's edifying and beneficial. But as for those books that are good, but not really impacting, I'm not sure what to think about them either.. I know I easily fall into reading books for entertainment, and because I enjoy a good story, not specifically to learn something. I'm not sure if there's a problem with that, (provided they're wholesome books)or not. I guess that's what I'm trying to think through at the moment.

    Another principle which I've recently been applying to what music I listen to, but which also applies to what I read is: where does it draw my thoughts? Does this book (or song, or whatever it is) draw my thoughts toward God and higher things, or does it lead me to focus on myself, or idolize others, or fantasize about the perfect one? That's something I really want to start applying to what I read.. I also have to get better at summing up books before I begin them, because I rarely stop part way through a book.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling so extensively.. It's been interesting and inspiring reading everyone else's thoughts on this topic too. :) Also, I'm pretty curious Hosanna, what were the three books that impacted you?

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    1. How wonderful that you've had the same thoughts going through your mind, Jessica! =) Actually, that has happened to me several times...I mention a weakness or struggle that I'm going through, and another friend comments on how they are going through the same thing. It's quite a blessing to have sisters in Christ there to encourage and uplift one another. ♥

      Ah! I'm in the same hole! If books aren't bad necessarily, does that mean they are a good use of our time? Is it right for me to spend 2-3 hours reading a feel-good book? I honestly don't know. =( After thinking about it deeper, I *think* that it would be a waste of my time. There are exceptions (for example, reading a school book or a piece for research), but it's hard to know when it's a worthwhile exception...or just your own flesh arguing. ;)

      I LOVE how you put that. Does it draw our thought to God? I know that I've read books and watched movies that created a fantasy world that only made me discontent with my own surroundings. In those areas, I would say that those books are not a good option.

      I don't struggle with music...maybe because I'm not a big music person? I play piano and enjoy music, but I wouldn't sit down for an hour to listen to songs for fun. I have noticed, however, that there are several music artists that draw me closer to God - Steven Curtis Chapman and Mandisa are two favorites. On the other hand, there are plenty of feel-good artists that only make me move to the beat - like some of Britt Nicole's pieces. While it's not wrong to listen to Britt, I try to keep the music going into my head pure and uplifting. What are your thoughts on this topic?

      The three books. =) The most impacting series is The Chronicles of Narnia. Those books have shown me that my sins are vile and worthless in His sight - like Edmund's was. But He, in all His love, died for ME. The sacrifice shown through Aslan has shown me how much He has done for me. ♥ Another book that has impacted me is called The Quest for Thunder Mountain by Ed Dunlop. While it's not exactly a favorite book, I find myself going back to it time and time again. In one part, a character asks, "What if Emmanuel's plan for me is something that I just cannot bear?" A mentor replies, reminding how much Emmanuel has done for us. How could His plan be anything but perfect? When I struggle with doubts of my own, that reminder has proven to be a blessing. =) Resistance by Jaye L. Knight is another piece that impacted me to consider whether I would be willing to die for my Savior or not. Would I risk being tortured and imprisoned for Him? I could mention many non-fiction books (especially ones by the author Elizabeth George) that have impacted me, but those are the three that I mentioned to my friend. =)

      Now, I would like to return the question. What books have impacted you?

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    2. Yes, I have to agree with you - the more I think about it, the more I think books that are feel-good-only aren't a good use of time.. especially when there's other more important things I could be doing!

      I'll have to check out Mandisa's music. I've heard of Steven Curtis Chapman. Have you read his wife's book - Choosing to See?

      Well, my thoughts on music are also undergoing change at the moment. :) Recently, I found myself listening to more of the feel-good type - not necessarily wrong, but it didn't draw my thoughts to God either. Anyway, then I was convicted (after watching some powerful videos on the topic) that really, I didn't need any more hindrances to my walk with God, so I'm trying to be purposeful with what I listen to, and make sure it's uplifting and leaves me desiring a deeper relationship with God. How do you define your standards of music or choose what to listen to?

      Oh my, I looked back at the books I've read in the past couple of years (I keep a record), and I couldn't find one fiction book that really impacted me - some helped me see things differently yes, but not in a life-changing way. Twice Freed, Chasing Jupiter, To Kill a Mockingbird and several holocaust stories come close.. and plenty of non-fiction books I've read I would rate as life-changing, but I can't believe that none of the fiction I read is really impacting! So thanks for that prompt, Hosanna! I definitely need to review the fiction I read. (And possibly try some of the ones you mentioned!) It's so nice to be able to discuss these things and encourage each other. Thanks again for beginning this discussion, and your thoughtful reply and encouragement. xx

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    3. I agree...I am seeing more and more that feel-good books are not a good usage of my time. =( It's very hard to break the habit of spending my free minutes reading "fun" books though.

      No, I have not read anything by SCC or his wife. I only listen to his music. =) Thank you for letting me know about it though. What are your thoughts on Choosing to See?

      I wouldn't really say that I have a written out standard of music. I am currently taking a music appreciation class, which requires me to listen to Baroque, Classical, and other forms of music. Most of the pieces are either sonatas, operas, or Christian hymn-style songs. I don't think it is wrong to listen to an opera...I wouldn't do it for fun though. If I am choosing my music, I listen to pieces that will uplift me and bring me closer to God. However, it is easy for me to choose songs that do that because my favorite music artists write pieces that glorify God. Thus, I just choose to remain listening to them. ;) I do enjoy musical pieces like soundtracks when I am writing though. The lack of words helps me focus on my writing. =)

      I was equally shocked when I examined my list of fiction books, Jessica!! Why do we read so many pieces that don't change our lives? That just make us feel good? It's saddening when friends are raving over books...but not because of the message. They go crazy over the writing style, twists, characters, and plot. I know that I've fallen into the same hole. =( We almost make excuses for the fiction we read. If we read "enough" of the Bible and our non-fiction, inspirational books, then it should be okay, right? What if instead of living "okay" we lived radically for Jesus? It would change so much in our daily lives.

      One struggle I currently have is that I have to read books for school that aren't God-honoring. They sometimes promote sin, saying that it is okay and acceptable. But because it's school, I am forced to read them. What should we do on these occasions?

      I have been greatly enjoying this discussion as well! Thanks for participating...it has really changed the way I view reading. =)

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  9. HI Hosanna,
    This was a well written post...
    I have very high and strict standards for what kind of books I will read. Personally, I think it's okay to read some books that aren't just full of Bible verses and talking about God. I think it's okay to read some fiction books that are "fun" to read, granted they are proper for a Christian to read. Does any of this make sense? :)

    I have stopped in middle of books before and won't finish it if I think something bad is about to be spoken about.

    If you are looking for a list of godly Christian books, I have TONS of suggestions. :) Feel free to ask any time if you want some good books. :)

    One book that was extremely good is Stepping Heavenward by Elisabeth Prentiss. What a godly lady she was.

    As for being made to read an ungodly book for a college class, I wouldn't read it. my parents would read it first, and if they don't approve it, I won't read it.
    Sometimes this helps me decided if I should be reading a book. Would I be happy to read this book aloud to Jesus? Would he gladly sit by me and listen to the story? And, would I be glad to read this book to my parents?

    If you find you are having trouble stopping reading books just for fun, you could clean off your bookshelf and replace those books with better ones.

    Love in Christ,
    Ashley
    creatingpreciousmoments.blogspot.com

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    1. Wow! Those are some impacting thoughts Ashley! I really appreciate that you took the time to share your convictions. =)

      Yes, that does make sense. I try to have high standards for the books I read. It's important to keep our minds pure. If I am reading a book for fun and I can tell that there is going to be something inappropriate or unholy, I skip it or stop the book altogether. I'm thankful that my family has similar tastes and convictions...it helps that the books we do have are clean and don't have bad words/adult content.

      Thanks for the recommendation! That book looks lovely. ;) I'll be sure to ask you if I need some new suggestions. =) I love having fellow sisters in the faith lifting each other up by sharing books that not only entertained but also impacted us.

      I agree...I would also try to avoid books that are ungodly. However, it is really hard when there are assignments based off of the books I have to read. While my teacher is pretty flexible, I don't want to be seen as picky and "too righteous" to read the stories she selects. While I have asked her to switch assignment before, I don't want to do that for every other book. Is this being prideful and caring too much about what others think of us? I have asked my teacher to select other material for me when it was really TOO far past what I would view. However, if I cut out everything ungodly...it would end up making me fail the class. It's a really hard situation. =/ I also feel like God put me in this class for a reason. I have had some awesome opportunities to share my faith. =)

      I love that idea! A fellow author said that when she writes romance she thinks, Would I feel awkward to be sitting here listening to this conversation? What if GOD was watching this scene? It's pretty easy to tell if it is honoring to God or not. =)

      Thanks for your thoughts!

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