I was reading through The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis and thought the following quote interesting:

“We should read  devout and simple books as willingly as we read those that are lofty and profound. Do not let the writer’s authority or learning influence you, be it little or great, but let the love pof pure truth attract you to read. Do not ask ‘Who said this?’ but pay attention to what is said. People pass away, but the truth of the Lord endures forever. God speaks to us in many ways without considering a person’s status.” – p. 35

Essentially, I think he is right, though I must admit I do not live up to this fully. Probably close to 100% of the time, I will determine a book’s purchase-worthiness based upon the author and/or his/her credentials. Sometimes, if I see a book with an interesting title or cover and the author is someone I don’t know, I pick it up to read about the author. If they attended (and preferably finished) at a reputable academic insitution, I’ll give it a second thought. If not, more likely than not I will reshelve it. Though particular institutions don’t guarantee that I will buy a paticular book, we must admit: names carry weight.

Another thing that might lead you to think I am snobbish in this matter is that it really bugs me when I read the author’s info and they’re referred to as “Dr. so-and-so,” but do not list their degrees or the institutions at which they were earned (if they were earned at all). Perhaps some do it out of humility, but I suspect that most do it because they want “Dr.” in front of their names so that unsuspecting readers will believe them to be an authority, or at least knowledgable, in the field.

So, does this make me a snob? Anyone else tend this way?

Αυτω η δοξα,



5 thoughts on “Snobbery?

  1. I am not certain about the snob part. However, one must be discerning and realize not only the content of the book is important, but also the spirit behind the content. This calls us to “read” not only the intellectual data, but also the heart of the one doing the writing — just like we would if we listen to a speaker. I only have a limited amount of time to read and want to make the best use of it. I often put books back on the shelf.

  2. I don’t think this makes you a snob. This makes you cautious. I do the same thing. Certainly the books I read (with some exceptions) are by or related to authors that I already know. If I see a book by an unknown author (to me), I check the back for recommendations by others who I may know. It just makes sense. Why spend time and money on something that may be complete garbage?

  3. Iris: I agree that the spirit behind the work is part of the equation when deciding on which book to buy. I would not likely buy a book that was mean-spirited, derogatory, etc. about persons/views with which that author disagrees. Yes, time is short–read the good stuff!

    Matt: I once only evaluated books by the title or by recommendation from another, and I ended up with some sorry volumes. Luckily, I became more discerning and am now have a decent library, most of which I would never part with.

    1. It’s incredibly irritating. I have tremendous respect for anyone has earned a research doctorate from a reputable institution and will gladly refer to them as “Doctor,” but it’s rather annoying to parade such an accomplishment for the attention of men. Kind of like Barbara Boxer’s recent insistence on being called “Senator.” Give me a break! Perhaps I should insist my congregation refer to me as “Reverend!”

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