A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

In Praise of Small Books

I'm a big reader and I have read more than my fair share of big books over the years-- five hundred, six hundred, and more pages. Of course, I have read smaller books as well. I have published several books, but have never written one that would be considered large. The largest book I authored-- my doctoral dissertation-- was a little over three hundred pages, but the six other books are shorter, three of them under a hundred pages. While lengthy books are necessary, so are shorter works and this post is written in praise of the latter.

First, short books are read by people who will not read larger ones. There are several reasons for this. One is that some people are not avid readers. It is not their thing. That is not a criticism. These folks are intelligent, to be sure but they learn in other ways. In our technological age we now have various was to learn. I have reached the age where I have to get my writing and reading in by mid-afternoon. Later in the day, my brain is tired of that way of acquiring knowledge. However, my daily learning is not over. Many evenings, I watch documentaries on YouTube or Amazon Prime or Hulu or other platforms. That kind of learning is just as valid. My point here is that learning in the twenty-first century is a multi-media activity. For many, large books are not part of their learning regimen, but small books are not out of the question.

Second, small books serve the purpose of giving a brief but good introduction to a subject. I am a person who is curious about many things in life, but I don't necessarily want to know about a subject in great detail. The small books I read usually pertain to subjects in which I am interested, but not in a way that I desire to go deeper. Small book serve that purpose.

Third, a briefer treatment of a subject can also be an entryway into further study. An introduction is the beginning of further education. While some treat a little book as a beginning and an end to learning, others may use it as a beginning to large works.

All this is to say that the reason I have embraced the writing of smaller books is because they are read by many people for various reasons and that makes it worth keeping things brief; and while it is shameless self-promotion, I want to recommend to you the Topical Line Drive Series of booklets from Energion Publications. They are short (approximately fifty page) treatments of many different topics theological, biblical, and spiritual. There are about fifty volumes in print with more to come. They are also available in e-book. The back of each volume describes the series name.
What is a Topical Line Drive? In baseball a line drive is a ball that is hit low, fast, and generally in a straight line to its destination. It's direct and to the point. Topical Line Drives booklets are designed to demonstrate a point of scholarship or survey a topic directly, clearly, and quickly. They are theological and biblical line drives. This is is the efficient way to learn the basics of a topic and how you can go about digging deeper.
I have two booklets published in the series: Who is Jesus? The Puzzle and the Portraits of a Divine Savior and Holiness of Heart and Life: Loving God and Neighbor. There are plenty of fine books in the series to read. I invite you to check out the complete listing here. I am sure there are booklets that interest you.

I will continue to read large books and have some longer ones to write in my future-- but the small book is here to stay for good reason. We know the old adage that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover; neither should we make assumptions based on their size.

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