Friday, June 24, 2005

Biography is Good

My librarian mother and literati father read often to me during my youth. One of my earliest joys as a child was having mom and dad read not one but two books before bedtime. Over the years, I developed an interest in history, reading about such things as the Civil War, colonial America, and so on. In my adulthood, this interest has driven me to biographies. In fact, I love reading biographies. Here's why.

1) Biographies are about people. People are interesting. So it's fun to read biographies. In all seriousness, it is fascinating to look into the life of a person. So much of life involves passing others by, sometimes with a smile, often with nothing at all. In a biography, though, we are able to peer into a person's mind, to see what they thought, what they did, how they treated others. I recently read Iain Murray's bio of Martin Lloyd-Jones, and was simultaneously educated, encouraged, and challenged as I read. To be half the man he was. Soon I hope to read Titan on J.D. Rockefeller, Sr. Such a mover and shaker.

2) In reading a biography, a small part of the world comes to light. We discover territory previously untraversed. Biographies not only teach about people, they give historical context and thus reveal the past. The reading of many biographies thus brings history to light one "region" at a time. That's pretty cool. Knowledge of the past, when grasped, sits always ready to be applied. That's a powerful tool.