How Much Do You Spend On Books?

By Dudley Ross Spears

Would it surprise you to know that the average member of the Jehovah’s Witness cult has read at least fifty books that improves his knowledge of the errors that cult propagates? About the same could be said of the Mormons. I have never seen a poll among members of the Lord’s church, but no one should be surprised to find that the percentage is far below that of the cults in this world.

How many books do you buy a year? How much money do you spend on religious literature? If your answer is an average of $7.50 per week, you are probably a gospel preacher. But I am writing to you – the man or woman the teen-age boy or girl – who think of yourself as “just an average member of the church.” How much do you spend on religious literature? If you compared the amount you spend on religious publications with, say, the TV Guide or Teen Magazine, or The Wall Street Journal, what would the comparison be?

I have much more in mind than trying to boost sales for some religious bookstore. While we should all wish every store that sells good religious print success, the important thing is to get good material into the homes and eventually into the minds and lives of members of the Lord’s church. The more reading you do on things pertaining to the kingdom of God, the more useful you will be in that kingdom.

It is necessary to be selective in buying good religious reading matter. So much that one finds on the book shelves of bookstores nowadays is wasted paper and ink. Recently some book company put on a sale in Bowling Green and offered for only eight cents a copy of The Search for Noah’s Ark. It might have been a good purchase – but that is up for question. I am sure that there are more valuable books for the Christian’s library than some of the denominational offerings that are either on some highly speculative subject or deal only with someone and their personal experience. It is important to be selective.

In order to be selective, there are a few tips that might be worthwhile. I hope that those who are not gospel preachers have continued to read. I offer these tips to those who may simply want to have some good religious reading materials around the house and also want to put them to use. Take these tips for what they are worth.

1. Buy books that are written by authors you know something about. By this is meant that, if you really want to get the most benefit from a book, know something about what the author stands for. Having studied the issue of premillennialism, I would not buy much that comes from the pen of Scofield. I know of too many errors he teaches. Probably the “average member of the church” knows some of our own brethren who have books in print. It is usually safe to buy books published by those with whom we have something in common.

2. Buy books on subjects that you are interested in. That may sound like something too puerile for you, but it is important. Only the foolishly rich will buy things they never intend to use. Do you buy clothes you never intend to wear, or food you have no idea of ever eating or automobiles you will never drive or a house you intend to remain empty and idle? A book may be one of the best ever written, but if it remains as part of the decor for the family room, what value is it? So, if you are interested in a subject, find a book on that subject written by an author in whom you have confidence and get it.

3. Buy good standard reference books. I mean by that such books as Davis Bible Dictionary, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Strong’s (or Young’s) Complete Concordance, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W.E. Vine and a good commentary on the Old and New Testament like Adam Clarke or Matthew Henry. Albert Barnes Commentary is also a good investment.

4. Buy books that are marked down in price. Just to show you I am not trying to boost any particular book store, buy books where you can get them cheapest. Not only do you save money, you have the satisfaction of telling others how much you saved. Look for damaged editions that usually are marked down; nearly every good book store has some that are slightly marred either in shipping or from fabrication.

5. Make a budget for religious material for your home. Like the rest of your household necessities, budget a little for the purchase of good religious material. Say you budget $2.50 per week – that will amount to $10.00 per month. Most of the time you can buy one good book for that and at the end of a year you could have purchased the entire set of Barnes Notes.

I imagine some of you who have read this far know of a few tricks that would help me. If so, I would like to know them from you. It is still true that, “a smart person takes money from the pocket and puts it in the mind.” One last suggestion is to subscribe for all the religious magazines you can afford. Do that for one year and then the next year weed out the ones that do not offer you the help you want.

Truth Magazine XXIII: 49, p. 790
December 13, 1979