This is Day 15 of our 31 Days of Less and More series. To read all the posts in order, start with Day 1 and check out our overview page to see the topics for the entire month.
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“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~Charles William Eliot

George Orwell had a chilling, dark vision, that the roots of liberal democracy would be overcome by a terror from without.  But 1984 came and went and our way of life had survived.  Neil Postman points out that perhaps we had forgotten another,  no-less chilling,  prediction by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World.  Postman says, ” Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”  His book Amusing Ourselves to Death  is hard to read without seeing the writing on the wall.  We are being weakened by our constant desire for entertainment.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”  In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.” (Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death)

The statistics are pretty staggering.  The average American, over the age of 2, watches around 40 hours of  TV per week.  That’s a full time job.  And if I’m not guilty of the TV portion, then certainly my “screen time” is no less staggering.  We have shifted from an word centered to an image centered culture and the only way I know to protect my self and my family from the tyranny of constant entertainment is to instill in them (and myself) a love for the written word.  As Ray Bradbury says, ““You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

Books are powerful and life-changing, but they are demanding and require more from us than we’ve been accustomed to giving.  Developing a life-long habit of reading will not be easy and you will most certainly swim upstream in our culture to do it. But it’s worth it.  There is no better gift that you can give yourself and your children than the desire and ability to read great books.

Here’s a few tips on how to start.

  1. Start with Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.  I don’t know if I’ve ever read a more compelling book on the state of our current culture and its obsession with entertainment.  You will be inspired to turn off the TV and the computer and pick up a book.  
  2. Begin a reading plan that is doable.  Commit to 15 minutes a day and do it at the start of your day.  I try to start and end my day with books, even if it’s only a few minutes.  When I first began a serious reading program, I followed Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.  It gives suggestions on a reading plan, with  specific classic books, that all educated adults should read.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Reading is a serious, demanding endeavor.  It’s like exercise, but for your mind.  You won’t be able to run a marathon the first six months.  Start our slow, but keep going.  Consider starting a book club with a few like-minded folks. And remember, “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”  (Mortimer Adler)
  4. I don’t agree that it doesn’t matter what you read as long as you read.  It does.  A lifetime of romance novels will likely not change your life.  But, Plato and Homer and Faulkner and C.S. Lewis might.  Here’s some inspiration to get your started.  Also, try this list of the 10 Books Every Christian Should Read. And remember, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” (Oscar Wilde)

Challenge Day 15:  Make a commitment to stop watching television for the rest of the month.   Instead,  pick a book you’ve been meaning to read and make it your goal to finish it by the end of October.  Any book will do but we strongly recommend starting with Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death.  Let us know what books you are planning to read this month!  Show or tell us on Instagram or Facebook. Use the hashtag #31dayslessmore

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Be sure to read Ruth’s corresponding post, Less TV.

We are thrilled to have Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom joining our Less & More challenge this month!  Be sure to check out her thoughts on Less Smart Phone, More Communication, from  yesterday’s post!

p.s. One more thing.  I’m giddy to announce that the Creatively Made Home Holidays course starts TODAY!!!! Hurry over and sign up and be inspired to make your holidays full of creativity and meaning.

33 comments on “31 Days of Less and More, Day 15 {More Reading}”

  1. So absolutely true. What Huxley wrote is exactly the path we seem to be taking. I love toread and always try to follow your book recommendations, though some are challenging. But in reality it is exactly what we need. We need to be challenged in so many aspects of our lives so we can grow.
    Love, love, love this post and all that you’ve shared in this series.
    Hugs

  2. love, love, love this edie! i’m a lover of books as well and can’t wait to add some of these to my mile-high stacks! and thank you for this series in general – it’s a gift! i’m learning a lot through 31 days…reading and writing! thanks for being an encouragement to me and so many.

  3. Tammy, you said you are learning so much…reading and writing! I feel the same way! It seems so basic, reading and writing, but in the world we live in with so many fun distractions, I am learning and remembering these two things more and more! Thanks Edie for YOUR words! I also always seem to side with Orwell, but Huxley’s words make a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing and opening my eyes to another perspective. Babylon, Rome, America? Hmmm. Interesting!

  4. I love this post. I’m so glad there are people like you that encourage others to read. I have to say I’m so glad my mother instilled in us a love for books. I remember being able to get away from doing chores because she sees I’m reading. My mother hated seeing me and my siblings watching TV as well, she always said we are wasting time. To a point that if I catch myself watching a dvd or a movie for an hour I feel like that’s enough for me for the day, I can continue tomorrow. Luckily, my husband doesn’t care about the TV either so we actually cancelled our cable. And I agree the new snare now is this internet. I think it’s a stronger snare than the TV – so many choices – so much stuff to see and read. Hours can go by without you even realizing it. You can buy things with a press of a button. My husband calls it, “The new Satan’s window”. Lol. I’m making a list of the books you recommended and will try to get them from the library if I don’t find it in mine. God bless! Thanks for your wonderful posts. (I read Ruth’s too and Crystal’s (Money Saving Mom). I follow all of you three. Thanks!! 🙂

  5. I love that you are emphasizing all things traditional. Being on the far side of 50, I am adamant about your last two subjects — reading and writing notes. Everything has its pros and cons, even progress!

  6. I was in elementary school when our friends and neighbors started getting televisions into their homes and I had trouble understanding why my parents were so opposed to following suit. After my father’s death a decade ago, an aunt told me the reason we were the last to have a TV in our home. Dad thought that TV would become similar to having sewage piped directly into our daily lives. I’m no prude, but the ‘street language’ and vulgarity on sit-coms offends me and should offend most others, but it has become so commonplace that we no longer blush. Since that is no longer entertainment, I’m no longer a viewer.
    I sometimes wonder what dear old Dad would think of the Internet and all its back-alleys.
    Great post, Edie. Thank you.

    • You are so right, Beverly.
      I wish there weren’t so many back alleys on the internet, but it may well be much worse than television.
      I often dream about what it must have been like to live in simpler times.
      Much love,
      edie

  7. I love reading and normally read at least a book a week. Some that I’ve enjoyed recently include Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Mudbound. As you can tell, I like southern fiction — and Edie, I have you to thank for recommending Bloodroot several yrs ago, which I absolutely loved.

  8. So true….all that you said

    We have so many books….love them all….

    Our weekly visits to the library show a decrease of kids’ time looking for books (not my own children) but more time on the computer instead

    {great post!!}
    an honor to be teaching the course with you!
    God bless,
    Anne Marie

  9. What I love about your blog is that it’s the whole meal. There are posts that are good for you like salad and vegetables; there are posts that are meatier and make you think; there are posts that are fellowship and communion like a glass of wine and a good loaf of bread; there are posts that are all dessert. When I read your blog, I feel my brain working. I come away a more enlightened person for having read, pondered, questioned, and wrestled. So, thanks for putting so much effort into this blog. I really appreciate it!

  10. Edie,

    Compelling, amazing truth. Every day during this series I’ve been convicted and challenged and inspired! Thank you for sharing this and not keeping it to yourself….your wisdom. The tide is turning, a storm is rising within, change is coming…

    Kim

  11. Love this post! I’m catching up on your blog. I wrote a post about reading today and how reading makes me happy (as part of my 31 Days to a Happier Life), and even referenced you on it 🙂
    I have always loved to read literature – always a bit of a book snob! LOL But isn’t it worth it!! Now my kids are reading – they read everyday. We have quite a collection of books. I hope to instill in them a life-long love of reading.
    I have read CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity because of your recommendations – and I loved it – so powerful! I cannot wait to get through the rest on your list.
    Thank you for posting 🙂

  12. I read 1984 last summer, and Amusing Ourselves to Death is on my list for this fall. I am preaching through a series on Genesis right now, and while reading the NIV Application Commentary for Genesis 1 I was surprised to find John Walton bring 1984 and Amusing Ourselves to Death to the table in understanding time.

    I noticed on your 10 Books Every Christian Should Read you are missing my absolute favorite book. Based on your other favorite books, you must read Surprised by Hope! You’ll love it! http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-Hope-Rethinking-Resurrection-Mission/dp/0061551821/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382025858&sr=8-1&keywords=surprised+by+hope.

    PS- I am a long time reader, and finally jumped into the blogging world this week. Here goes!

  13. I remember as a child reading while sitting under a group of trees in my front yard. That memory is one of the most soul satisfying ones I have because I learned to be content. The simplicity of reading the written word and then dreaming to write my own was all I had and yet, it was always enough (actually, more than enough). I have always loved to read, it satisfies my soul, quiets my mind (even though there may be a lively discourse going on in my brain over what I just read!) and it allows me to just be. Best of all, it’s often when I hear from God. Surprisingly, I hear from God in something that seems like mundane fiction as well as the deepest of the Scriptures. Reading is pure joy.

    Years ago, I quit reading for a season. I was a young mother and the cares of the world demanded too much of my time…or I allowed them to. If I was reading something I loved, I would stay up way too late and my family paid the price for it the next day. So I stopped. I missed reading so much, I started reading cereal boxes and mindless magazines. As I re-evaluated I decided to change what I was reading and the way I looked at reading. I am a particular reader (not a snobby reader…I enjoy a good story as well as serious non-fiction) but I do not fill my mind with useless drivel, graphic scenes or horrific language. That’s just me; I need my reading time to be edifying even if the subject matter is challenging. I have returned to the joy of reading. I love finding an author I haven’t read before or reading a book recommended by a friend. In the quiet of the evening after my beloved’s early hour slumber, a good book is a kind companion. Great post!

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