At church several Sundays ago one of our pastors made a comment about how he used several books to get ready for teaching since no one book said all that needed to be said on the subject. I don’t know whether this was more of a complaint or more of a simple observation. Either way he is exactly right.
And whether or not he knew it he managed to pin point exactly why books keep being written and published.
I have heard and asked the skeptical questions about the number of new books that are published on old subjects. “Do we really need another book about ______?” I’ve poked fun at those books that label themselves as “the definitive word on ______.” But you know what I’ve never done? Read a perfect book.
I have never read a book that managed to be the final say or tell the perfect story. I think that’s why I keep reading and why people keep buying and why publishers keep publishing. No one book is good enough. It might be good enough for now. But now ends in a month or a year or a decade. In time a new voice is needed, even if they are saying basically the same old thing. New voices, new perspectives, new timing – it’s all necessary.
Every book is written by a person with limited knowledge and limited skills. Some authors may be experts or gifted or geniuses, but they’re still limited. And so they only communicate in their limited way. And we only get the bits they have to offer, some greater and some lesser (and some offering nothing at all – it’s best to skip these books as soon as you figure out which they are).
In this life we will always we will always be searching for the whole of knowledge and the perfect story. And we’ll never get there this side of heaven, but that’s ok. Because in this life we will always be making and finding new books on old subjects to teach us the bits they have to offer.