Books Rule

"More please."

Two simple words spoken by Oliver Twist. They echo in the Dickensian almshouse as if from Mt. Sinai.

Why, when I surf the Net for more than 10 minutes, do I feel like young Oliver? The amount and availability of information on the Internet routinely overwhelm me, but fail to nourish my need for insight. No one can keep up with the Niagara of information coursing through the Web's servers.

I find myself clicking from URL to URL on a junkfood diet of disconnected data. In search of knowledge or understanding, I feel like a lost soul in Dante's inferno, chained to my waist in water that retreats every time I stoop to drink.

But put a book in my hands, one vetted by a trusted reviewer (or by an author whose thinking and writing I am acquainted with) and I get "more."

Books have time to create intellectual vistas. I can drink in their insights. Recall Alexander Pope's admonition: "A little learning is a dangerous thing;/Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:/ There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,/ And drinking largely sobers us again."

Our book section focuses on religious issues. We include a religion bestseller list. We do this every three months. As far as I know, we are the only daily newspaper to routinely devote an entire section to reviews of books overtly concerned with religion. Not all of the books this week are the stuff to feed your soul, but certainly one or two point to transcendence.

Read one in its entirety. Consider the way it develops a thesis, and then bounce it off the galaxy of ideas swirling in your head.

You won't need to say "More please." Just "Thanks!"

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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