Reading a Book That is Wrong

Okay, not really a “wrong” book.

There is terrific joy in finding a book which teaches a new thought or perspective that can be embraced or even found to be uplifting. That discovery akin to finding a diamond in the garden during routine chores.

It is, however, a guilty pleasure (not all that rare given enough reading) I enjoy reading a book I do not agree with in whole or in part.  There is a pleasure in walking through the thoughts and ideas of someone else and it is instructive when they run askew to mine. Though thoughtfully given some ideas or theories that I find I cannot simply “buy into”.

I do not seek these books out but find them by “happy accidents”.  If I sought them out, I would violate the whole idea of reading and a new idea could be rejected without its due.  It would like deciding from across the room that the stranger I had not met was waiting for me to pick a fight with him. Always approach a new book with an open mind – but not an empty head.

” Beware of the man of one book.” – Thomas Aquinas

When I stumble upon a book positing a notion I find disagreeable I can find subtle pleasures.

  • It challenges me to review my own root assumptions. I survey the inventory of what I consider true and measure each of those relevant against the new idea.
  • It confirms I have not fallen prey to the misconception that publication equals canonization. I grew up in a home with a love of the printed word. We collected books on every subject, but one quote repeated regularly in my home was “fools write books too”. When I am able to critically review new thoughts, it reminds me that authors are human too.
  • It confirms and reminds me that I DO have beliefs. Its a small victory but a big one, too. As important as it is to keep an open mind, it is important to test and measure thoughts and remember that there are somethings I hold true – and remembering why. Much as validating that a compass does indeed point in the same direction every time. It may or may not point North, but I know I have a steady bearing.
“Lord! when you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.” – Christopher Morley

So grab the book and let yourself be surprised when you find some new truth that speaks to you. And enjoy, also, when you stumble across the book you cannot agree with, and exercise your mind to understand why.

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