Books tell us a lot about ourselves. When I go home to visit my grandparents about an hour from my college, I often go and help out at a second hand store where my Grandmother volunteers. If I’m not needed hauling a heavy box or bag, then I’m with the books, sorting through piles of titles that come in from everywhere. In some ways, it’s like sorting through boxes of treasure, only a large majority seem dull, dusty and all too uninteresting for me to ever spend time flipping through their pages. But even those that are boring often have a story to tell. What’s most interesting about sorting through these books is the way they reflect people, time periods and mindsets.
I’m not always quite sure what to do when I come across a book about how the evil communists in Russia are the antichrist, planning to take over Israel. Or when I find an action-romance novel splayed with a large picture of a Nazi plane engulfed in flames, headed downward to its destruction, while a couple embrace in the foreground. I wonder what kind of stories we will begin to tell ourselves over the years. Will pictures of dying Taliban or exploding North Korean warheads make up the background of our books, while a man and woman gaze into each other’s eyes in the forefront, reminding us that sappy emotional romance is really where our priorities lie?
Books tell us about ourselves. As I place books out on the shelves at the store, I’m surprised at the amount of books there are offering help for the many issues in our lives. Ten steps to a healthy marriage. How to find financial satisfaction. How to reign in your insane children. How to live without stress. How to live without worry. A hundred ways to simplify your life. A thousand ways to spend your money on books that will try to tell you how to fix your family, marriage, business and life. We try to fix ourselves.
The very fact that we have so many books on how to do all these things should perhaps indicate that most people are still looking. Just like the existence of doctors tells us that humans have problems. We see the brokenness of society in the simple laws of supply and demand. We look high and low for something that will finally satisfy, heal and direct. And we look everywhere but up. The true answer to all our confusion and our searching can be found in one Person. But too often we just don’t want to find it.