Whose recommendations do you take for a good book?
By Kathryn Glanzer
Like many writers, I am an avid and selective reader. I can only read so many books in a year, and I want to make sure to choose wisely. However, this creates questions: What makes a good choice and whose advice do I take?
In the past few years, I have begun to filter book suggestions by my relationship with the person who is recommending. In truth, a kind person may recommend a book that was good for them, but may be totally ill fitted for me; close friends know the difference. Unfortunately, individuals may also recommend books in a passive attempt to change me. I have learned that it is all right to judge a book by the person who is recommending it.
My favorite recommendations come from a group that meets only once a year in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. For the past eight summers, my husband and I have traveled there to help with the Southern District Conference senior high camp. There are many people who help with worship, leading youth, programming, etc. Some individuals are there nearly every year, like Roxi and Ty Klein from Hillsboro, Kan. Others come just once yet leave a memorable impression, like Jason and Nicole Quiring of Saratoga Springs, Utah. Every year is a new combination of people, experiences and stories.
Over the past years a typical pattern has evolved. When we are not helping with youth activities, we spend much of our free time catching up, seeking and giving advice and talking about the books we have read over the past year. By the second day, we have started our separate lists of recommended books typed in our phones. By the final day of camp, I have already chosen the order in which I am going to buy and read each one.
This past summer was no exception. I recently contacted Lisa Schmidt of Fairview, Okla., to see what books she had on her list and was surprised to find we had written down completely different lists—not one book was the same. I already have added one of her books, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, to my list.
In between worship sets this year, Rod Jost, Sheridan, Wyo., recommended several books including The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud. I am currently finishing this book so that I can get to Jost’s next recommendation, The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John H. Walton.
In his book, Cloud discusses the power of connection and relationship in building or tearing one another down. After all, our various relationships impact us emotionally, mentally, socially, professionally and spiritually. He argues that with the right people around us, we can hope to grow past projected limits and expectations. Through reading this book, I understand the importance of who I take book advice from.
When someone recommends a book, I certainly question whether this person is trying to change me or to encourage what they see the Holy Spirit already working within me. Do they desire for me to grow past my current limits and expectations? Oftentimes, it is through this spontaneous Colorado book club’s people and books that the Holy Spirit reaches new parts of my intellect and sense of empathy, opening new doors for ministering to the people around me. With so many wonderful people encouraging me, I have a long list to read through.
Kathryn Glanzer lives in Hillsboro, Kan. with her husband, Chris, and two children, Anna and Paul, and is a member of Ebenfeld MB Church.
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