Read a Good Book Lately?

When I was in 5th grade I read more than 300 library books and wrote a brief paragraph about each one. My teacher, Miss Cornelius, and the school librarian were thrilled. At the end of the year awards assembly, they presented me with an embarrassment of prizes—including a lap desk with an assortment of pens, pencils, and writing paper inside. It was my pride and joy for a long time.

Looking back, I realize that many of the books I read that year were biographies.

How I loved learning about Annie Oakley, Dolley Madison, Amelia Earhart and Abigail Adams. Even now I still love reading biographies and memoirs. Why? There are several reasons.

Biographies bring history to life

World War II becomes more than dates and places when one reads about Corrie Ten Boom’s trials and tribulations in a concentration camp. Ecuador becomes vividly real when one reads about Elisabeth Elliot eating roast monkey while evangelizing the savage Waorani tribe. The battle for civil rights takes on flesh when one reads about little Ruby Bridges, who had to be escorted to elementary school by US Marshals.

Biographies make me want to be a better person

Reading about surfer Bethany Hamilton makes me want to be braver. Reading about Florence Nightingale makes me want to be more caring. Reading about Pandita Ramabai—a female Hindu scholar who converted to Christianity—makes me want to be bolder in my faith.

Biographies provide us with valuable life lessons

Young athletes and others cannot help but be encouraged by the life of runner Wilma Rudolph, who overcame crippling polio to go on to win gold medals in the Olympics. The musically inclined will admire Mahalia Jackson, who overcame poverty and prejudice to earn the title of gospel music queen. Although paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, Joni Eareckson Tada’s experiences teach all of us about faith, prayer, and determination. She didn’t let her disabilities prevent her from achieving a reputation as a gifted mouth artist, talented vocalist, and author.

Christian biographies encourage us to keep running the good race

Living in a culture addicted to mediocrity, we need to be inspired by believers who struggled against sin and adversity to triumph in the end—people who served as salt and light in this troubled world.

Biographies should be a staple in our literary diet

This is especially true of our children and grandchildren. As author Os Guinness has written, “…great lives do more than teach. They stir, challenge, rebuke, amuse and inspire at levels of which we are hardly aware.”

So when was the last time you read a good biography? Maybe it’s time to do so again. You won’t even have to write a book report.

G. Redmond

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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