Are Books Irrelevant?

A close up of books and a tablet in a classroom.

No.

Alright, that was an easy question to answer. I hope you have a good week. Make sure you follow me on…

Alright, alright. The obvious answer to the question is “no”, but I’m not here to only answer that question. 

Let’s start with a bit of history as I dig into this topic. We should come to terms that the printing press was a great step in the technological progression for mankind. It created a more accessible means of communicating knowledge with a wider audience when it was first invented in 1440 (approx.). The [42-Line] Bible was one of the (set of) books that became popularized through the press and therefore became mainstream. And some can even say that it has never stopped selling big to this day. I remember hearing a stat at one point that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time―it’s in every hotel room for crying out loud.

You get access and you get access. You all get access!

One of the biggest outcomes of the printing press was that it made it more accessible for people to read. Of course, not everyone had the privilege to learn how to read (or write, for that matter). Later on, we received braille (1824) for those who were hard of seeing… or blind. And this sort of accessibility is a trend that hasn’t died. We see a more accessible form of getting this information through audiobooks and even blogs. You’re reading one at the comfort of wherever you are, right?

As time passes, it has become easier to relay information for both the speaker and the listener. Books are being published left and right, so I can only assume it’s easier for the average Joe to start writing and printing.

How can we make it easier to essentially learn and teach? If the main purpose of these mediums is to be able to communicate knowledge, then we have to think about more popular ways of sending and receiving information.

As of 2018, there are multiple ways to learn aside from reading text on a stack of paper or on a screen. As I mentioned, audiobooks have become very popular. We don’t normally listen to them through cassettes as they were first created, but they have now become an alternative to listening to music, especially as it is readily available through applications like Audible.

As far as listening goes, we also have the creation of podcasts. A recorded conversation that someone publishes for the world to hear as another attempt to spread knowledge. They are usually more casual and personal than a printed book or audiobook, but communication is still occurring. And this doesn’t stop here; if you want to use your eyes, documentaries and online videos, such as YouTube have also become a part of mainstream culture.

A close up of earbuds connected to a phone.

#AllMediumsMatter

See, I bring these mediums of information and communication to tell you that they have a great source of knowledge that books also hold. For a long time, I learned that books are a great way to absorb knowledge of some sort, whether you are learning a subject for the sense of education or to enjoy a piece of literature at your leisure. In the Christian community, I have seen it as a hobby that is perceived to make you smarter or more engaging in everyday conversations about God and such. Reading has become associated with growth, both mentally and spiritually.

This has led me to feel guilty that I am not productive if my free time doesn’t include a session of reading. As Christ-followers, we can agree that one exception can be the Bible as it is believed to be the living word of God. We do need to make our own interpretation of the text, but there are many times that someone else’s perspective through the form of a sermon or commentary is also helpful. I also see this as valid for us to look at other mediums such as a podcast or YouTube video to provide similar growth, if not more.

Reading isn’t bad.

This is where I go into the question asked in the title; reading is still relevant even though we have these very accessible mediums to spread knowledge and information. I have nothing against reading and I find it to be a form of learning that gets rid of many distractions that other mediums may hold. It would be stupid for me to tell you to stop reading knowing that I challenged myself to read more books at the beginning of the year.

Side Note:

In case you are interested, I want to share a few books I am currently going through. I have two paperbacks I carry around everywhere: “Reflection of Psalms” by C.S. Lewis and “E.M. Bounds on Prayer” by E.M. Bounds on paperback, “The Tech-Wise Family” by Andy Crouch and “Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind” by 99U on Kindle, and finally, “Dangerous Calling” by Paul D Tripp on Audible. I wouldn’t recommend everyone to read this many books at once. I’m not even sure if it’s the smartest thing for me to do.

But there isn’t a reason as to how a podcast or online video isn’t as relevant or beneficial. The only con that comes into play is how distracting it can be for you. While there are many YouTubers and videos that share great content, it’s very easy to fall into a rabbit hole of pointless videos. We need to have the discernment to choose content wisely from any outlet in the same manner that you may seek recommendations and reviews when deciding on the next book to read. Sermons and videos from the Bible Project, Tim Challies, etc. are very beneficial for you to watch. Shoot, I even watch my share of mobile tech videos as that is an interest of mine (That’s an example of something I, personally, wouldn’t deem pointless). I do try to avoid videos that I will forget or cause me to do nothing with that knowledge in the future. We should all know where we can fall down the wrong path that holds no growth. Whether that is in a podcast, music, or videos, you have to be more careful with what you watch or listen. And if you want biblical advice, read the whole book of Philippians. Paul definitely tries to pinpoint that we need to be careful with what we feed our minds with. Rick Warren also has an extensive article on this topic over at DesiringGod, if you’re interested.

Side Note:

I want to recommend a few podcasts for you to listen to. I have listened to podcasts for the past three years and here are a few that I enjoy listening to on a weekly basis.

Dad Tired

Live Alive Podcast

The BadChristian Podcast (contains explicit content not suitable for younger audiences)

How I Built This with Guy Raz

Provoke & Inspire Podcast

The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

A quick google search can help you get to their latest episode.

I want to suggest that you use your time wisely as we are all limited with the number of hours there are in a day. These outlets, including books, are tools that can be used for good and for bad.  You chose what you want to use as your idea of growth.

I’m curious to know, though, what do you feed yourself with for personal and spiritual growth? And if you are willing to share, what do you find yourself doing that you think you should abstain from to be more productive? As I said, I fall into a wormhole of clicking on videos found in “recommendations” list on YouTube.


If you’re on social media, follow me on Twitter @Juanlm1331 and on Instagram @Juan.unfltrd.blog

 

 

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