The Discerning Book Buyer

I find great pleasure in looking through bookstores – call me odd, but that’s what I like to do sometimes. Other people have their hobbies and various traits, well, mine is bookstore perusing, which most likely leads to book buying.

As I walked out of my local Christian bookstore this morning it struck me that one really needs to be discerning in what they pick up. (I must admit that I went to the store b/c it had a 20% off sale and I knew I could find some bargains somewhere in there) I feel that when I walk into this said bookstore that I know where to go to find the quality Christian books – emphasis quality. To some that will seem like an oxymoron – a Christian bookstore actually selling ‘quality’ Christian books, are there such things!? Well, in fact there are but one has to be discerning in looking for them and know what ‘quality’ means.

I find myself sometimes wondering whether other people in the store are aware of what is quality or not. I don’t mean to judge, but I suppose I do. When I see someone with a book by Joel Osteen I want to talk to them about what they’re really buying. When I see someone looking at the commentary section I want to point them to the commentaries I have found most useful and which are clearly evangelical (Tip: Go to Best Commentaries to find how they rate). When I walk into the shop and see a few people looking over the latest books, the ones right at the front I want to tell them that there are better ones down the back. While people are trying to choose a bible for their grandchild I want to let them know that it’d be better for them to have an ESV over a KJV, and if they’re a teenager then don’t get them those silly “teen” bibles, get them the real thing and help them learn for themselves what the bible says about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Having said all this I realise that it is hard. Going into an unfamiliar bookstore where there are a whole range of books that are deemed ‘Christian’ makes everything seem like its OK. I mean if the Christian bookstore has for sale “The Jesus Diet” then it must an OK book, mustn’t it?

The fact is, no.

Just like everything one reads, watches, listens to, and does, care and discernment needs to be there. My encouragement would be to talk to your pastor or a Christian friend that you know reads a bit and ask them what they recommend and what they think you should stay away from. After all, it’s a dangerous world out there in “Christian bookstore land”.

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