What Is Your Relationship With Books

I love to read. Probably more than reading, I love looking at books on my bookshelf. Some books I wish I could just infuse the information through osmosis without ever reading the book. Over the years I have collected hundreds if not thousands of books. However, I have a wife. My wife doesn’t really care for the plethora of books I have.



More so, she hates moving them every time we move to a new house. I get that. I do too. The last move, I believe I counted about five large plastic tubs of books. It could have been more but the move before that, she made me go through my books and so I gave about two tubs away to my church family and Goodwill.

It was very hard to get rid of books. I love my books. Deciding which books to get rid of was the hardest. That is until I ran across an analogy somewhere (probably in a book I got rid of). I do not know who was the first to use this analogy but I have used it so much that I have pretty much given up on trying to find out. So let me introduce to you an analogy that might help you clean off your bookshelf and allow more room for books that are most important.

There are three types of relationships you have with a book:

  1. There are books you are married to
  2. There are books you go on a date with
  3. There are books you have a one night stand with

Let me explain.


To be married to a book means you read it. Then you read it again. Then you read it again. You read it so much you fall in love with the characters. You quote them. You emulate the characters. You know the plot lines and begin to dream up other plot lines that would go along with it. You begin to dream of other books with the same characters. If it is a no-fiction book, it resonates with your soul. It changes your life. It becomes a part of who you are so much that you must tell everyone else about its life-altering message. You mark in it. You highlight in it. You make notes in it. It simply is a book that you need in your life the rest of your life.


Dating a book is very simple. You read it. Once. It never gets read again. You put it on your bookshelf and look at it in passing. You think about what it was about, briefly while scanning your bookshelf. You may even have forgotten about 99% of the book but that one quote made a difference. A little one but it still made… well, an influential thought somewhere in the recesses of your mind. Who knows if it ever got to your heart. But it was good enough book to have finished. You probably gave it away after reading it knowing you’d never read it again. But hey… at least the author got a percentage royalty from you.

One Night Stand

This book can hardly be called a relationship. There’s no time to build one. When you go on a one night stand with a book, you quickly learn you two are not, I say NOT compatible. The only thing interesting about this book is the title. And that is even questionable. It is possible the title is why you even picked it up in the first place. You made it through the forward and dedication. After you entered the first chapter you start to think what was I thinking. The second chapter leaves you empty. If you make it to the third chapter you end up slinging it across the room and bouncing it off the wall because you quickly learn you have wasted brain cells trying to make sense of the garbage. You wouldn’t recommend this to your ex-girlfriend’s dog. You might even want to call up the publishing house and question their competence. At this point, you’re wishing you could sell it on Amazon to at least make back a penny even if the shipping and handling is $3.99. A penny save is a penny earned.

There you have it. This is how I decide if a book is worth reading or keeping. I have to say it has been a life saving (or at least a back saving) analogy. But it makes sense. Why load my bookshelf down with senseless books that take up room where more meaningful books can sit? It just feels good to know my bookshelf represents what matters most to me. It is less cluttered and more purposeful. It will make more time for reading books that matter most.

Is it time to start throwing out those useless books and becoming intentional about what you read?

Book Relations


About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Pastor of Village Church, author of Faith Debugged

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