Read the Summaries or the Meat?

Call me a book snob, or just weird, but I prefer to read author’s who wrote prior to the 21st century.  I actually like books that are hundreds of years old.  People back then just thought deeper, understood the art of conversation, and spent their lives developing their philosophy of life.

I read mostly nonfiction.  I read to gain a better understanding of a subject, or to learn how to do something.  Once I find something that I love I line up a series of books to read, and study, to learn as much as I can about a subject.  I study this subject for years.  I feel like I have earned several degrees, but just don’t have the multiple diploma’s to prove it.

I am finishing the book, Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore.  In this book he tells a story about a college class he was teaching.  He suggested to students that they read the original writings of Freud and Jung.  The students later complained that the reading was too difficult.  Moore states,

“They had been educated for years with textbooks that systematized and summarized the theories of the founding psychologists.  But a textbook is a reduction of subtle thought into a simple outline.  In the process of streamlining complicated thought, soul is lost.”

Moore believes that there is beauty in the complexity of their writing, and that beauty is missed when people just read summaries of their work.  I agree.

When I read current author’s I keep notes of the author’s they refer to.  When I am finished with their book I read through their works cited list and identify a few of the works that I want to read.  You see, most author’s do just summarize, I am, but if we want to grow and develop then we need to get back to the original writings.

This is why Christians should read the Bible.

Psychologists should read the original works of founding psychologists.

Why we need to get back to the original works, and dive into them.

In the book, How To Read A Book, the author’s suggest that when reading a book that is complex the reader should read the book straight through without stopping.  Even if the book is difficult just keep going.  You can go back and read it a second time and begin the journey of hearing what the author is communicating.

In today’s world we often get stuck reading blogs, and social media posts.  In that case we need to get back to books.  If we are avid readers we need to find out who the author’s are reading, and read those books.  We need to delve into some original works, and challenges our reading and comprehension skills.

To be honest, I have studied Christian counseling for over 4 years.  I don’t agree with all the psychology theories in Moore’s book, but his book is about so much more.  The book challenged my current way of thinking and I am thankful for that.

There is ALWAYS something that we can learn.  ALWAYS.  Moore taught me a lot, inspired me to think differently, challenged my values, and confirmed others.  He inspired my writing, thinking, and living.  And now?  And now I want to read who he reads, and begin a path towards reading the original writings that inspired Moore.  When this happens I will be on my way to gaining a real education, and getting a piece of good meat.

Marcy Pedersen



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