I have a problem. As of this minute, I have 4,716 books in my Kindle library. That number could change by the time you read this, depending on how many e-book deals I find by then.
And that’s not all. I have 6,050 books in my Logos library. I once saw the amount of money I’ve spent on Logos books, and was shocked. Let’s just say I could have bought a car with that money.
I also have 964 audiobooks. All of these digital books I’ve just mentioned — over 11,000 of them — are portable. I can access them in seconds from my phone almost anywhere in the world.
And that’s not even mentioning my physical library. Although I pruned about 60% of my books earlier this year, I still have a substantial number. I also regularly borrow books from the library.
I could spend the rest of my life enjoying the books I already have at my disposal, and not run out of books.
We’ve been blessed with an abundance of books. For just a few dollars, we can access the accumulated resources from the past thousands of years. Think about what you’re getting when you buy a good book: the distilled thinking of an expert, edited, packaged and delivered to you for the price of a few dollars and a few hours of work. It’s astounding.
In his book Susie, Ray Rhodes describes how Susie Spurgeon, wife of the famed preacher Charles Spurgeon, became aware of how many pastors the British Isles had almost no books, sometimes fewer than ten. She pictured “poor bookless ministers, who sit sighing for thoughts in the face of their unfurnished shelves.”
She responded by forming Mrs. Spurgeon’s book fund. Her goal: to “lay at their door also the provision which is so stimulating and needful, so important to the minister, so refreshing to the people.” She started with a hundred books. When her husband’s Lectures to My Students was published, she wanted to provide a copy for every pastor in England. Over the next 28 years, she distributed 200,000 books free to needy pastors who owned few resources.
Compared to the pastors in Spurgeon’s day — even many pastors in different parts of the world today — we’re resourced beyond comprehension.
I’m trying to learn to slow down in accumulating books. I want only the best books, ones that will still be worthwhile ten years or more from today. I don’t want to buy books that I’ll never be able to read, even if some argue that having a book in one’s library, even unread, is beneficial.
I’m also trying to learn how to share books with others. One of the best things we can do with our libraries is to allow others to benefit from them. I’m even trying to learn how to forgive those who forget to return some of my books.
But mainly I’m trying to remember how blessed we are to have so many books available to us.
As I said, I have a problem. Two of them, actually. One is that I have too many books. The other is that I sometimes forget how blessed I am. Praise God for books, both the quantity and quality available to us today. What a gift from God. And what a responsibility.