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The Fayetteville Public Library once again created its unique December decoration for its lobby: a Christmas tree, 10 feet tall, composed of hundreds of books. I call it, "the tree of knowledge!"

Reading has always been an important part of my life. When you read, you expand your understanding. A good book transports you through space and time into another world. It enables you to see through another person's eyes. A book can surprise you with amazing stories, things you couldn't see before.

I love good books, fiction and non-fiction. A fiction favorite is, "A Day No Pigs Would Die," by Robert Peck.

My wife and I read it aloud to our children at the dinner table. We'd pass it along when overcome by laughter or tears. It's an amazing account of a boy's 13th year, the year his illiterate father died.

He said of his dad, "Living with my father was like living with a king."

Another great read, although a marathon, was "Lord of the Rings." This JRR Tolkien novel was later made into a thrilling movie by Peter Jackson. Tolkien was the scholar who patiently steered C.S. Lewis toward becoming a follower of Christ and a believer of the Bible. C.S. Lewis became the world's greatest apologist for Christianity during WWII.

Some books open your eyes to what people did for you long ago -- for example, "How The Irish Saved Civilization." According to Wikipedia, it's the story of Ireland's role in preserving great literature (secular and religious) from being burned by invaders. This happened in the time from the fall of Rome to the rise of medieval Europe. It is an enjoyable historical book written by Thomas Cahill.

I heard a Sunday radio show recently, aired locally on KPSQ-FM, called "Spirit in Action." The host was thoughtfully interviewing the author of "Stand Up: how to get involved, speak up, and win in a world on fire." Although the host and author were liberal (I'm conservative), I learned much from their discussion and I agreed with what was said.

Here are the books now on my lamp table. I usually read four or five books simultaneously while I take time to think, underline passages, or make notes. I have David Limbaugh's "Jesus is Risen," which is about Paul and the early church. I have Kenneth Bailey's "Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes," which is cultural studies in the gospels. I'm working on Frank Viola's "Insurgence," about reclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. Of course, I have within reach my old, trusted, tattered, underlined New American Standard large-print, leather-bound Bible, published by Zondervan. This is my second Bible since some pages had come loose from my older one. I like the ESV and the NIV. I quote scripture from the KJV. But I study in the NASB.

In modern America, it seems our children escape the joy of reading books. I hope you have taught your kids to value reading. Whoever has a book has value in their hands. A prisoner started a reading club while in prison, he said (paraphrase) "I was never behind bars when I was reading. The book transported me to a different place." He has since been pardoned.

Go to the library. Borrow an old book. Maybe buy a new one at the bookstore or online. Stretch your imagination. Re-examine old ideas and consider new ones. Your brain will thank you. Your family and friends will discover you are becoming a more interesting person. Learning is a joy.

• • •

Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: Book power

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