The Miracle of Books

Books are a great thing. Thanks to Jules Verne, I can travel to the bottom of the ocean in a 19th century submarine. I can make a journey to the center of the earth. I can even travel to the moon in a space capsule shot from an enormous canboy-2133298_1920non buried in the ground.

Because of CS Lewis, I can see into the inner counsels of a demon in training. And because of his friend, JRR Tolkien, I can travel with a hobbit to Mount Doom and watch the final destruction of the hosts of Mordor. I can walk with Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress, I can explore Africa with Livingston, and watch Hannibal try to overthrow Rome.

I’ve been many glorious places because of books.

I was sitting in my study this evening thinking about all of this. I tried to calculate how many books I have on my shelves, but it took too long, so I gave up. But lets say I had 400 books. How many hours of study, research, writing, editing and production do you think they represent? I remember writing a book for a publisher that had almost a hundred thousand dollars invested in it before even starting on the publishing process with it. And that was twenty years ago. Converted into today’s currency, and values, I suspect that the books on my shelves represent close to $50M. Maybe that stretches it too far, but that only gives us $125,000 per project and many them couldn’t be replaced for double that.

Is it worth the investment? I think so. I have a Kindle Fire, but I have probably less than a dozen books for it. I like a book I can hold in my hand. That I can highlight and scribble in the margins. A book I can put on a shelf and admire from a distance. For instance, I have many of Pierre Burton’s books in hard cover. (I bought them all used, of course.) I can see those books from where I am sitting, and I enjoy that.

Because of books, I can tap into the knowledge of the past. The Bible is a great example of that, but I also have Philo, Josephus, and Eusebius. I can learn about Jewish culture from Edersheim, and about the Dead Sea Scrolls from Norman Golb. I use Google for quick information, but a lot of the in-depth information I find still came from a book somewhere.

Now what brought on all this introspection? I sent a book to a publisher this week. I have another one that is on the verge of being published (it won’t quite make it for Christmas). I am at the delightful place of needing to decide what my next project should be. I’d almost like to try something new, like a book about the ultimate victory of good over evil, based on Revelation. However, there are hundreds of books on Revelation by authors who all felt they had the final answer. Is there really room for one more? Not sure.

I listened to the book of Jonah this morning while I was on the treadmill. I think that has some real potential. But my sponsors tell me that people prefer novels. Hmm. Okay, so should I write another novel? I know of a very interesting story where I could still talk to the main character. Would he let me write it? Maybe. The publisher I’m working with on my last novel prefers books that are at least factually based, so a book like that would work.

Deciding what book to write is a little making a new friend. It will be a long-term relationship, so you want to chose carefully. But it is also exciting because the friendship has tremendous potential. You want to take time to savor the decision because it doesn’t happen a lot.

How do you decide what to write next? Or if you haven’t been blessed with needing to make such a decision, what would you like to see in the next book you buy?

Toss your ideas my direction if you have some. I won’t guarantee using them, but then, you never know what will strike me between the eyes.

About Lester Bauman

Free lance writer and editor. Author of a dozen books, husband of one wife, father of six, grandpa of ten.
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  1. I have two ideas: the first is for a historical fiction on the Anabaptists, possibly starting in 1525 and bringing it up to at least 1970. It could actually start after the crucifixion with a very light treatment of the 1,400 years until the reformation. Something in the style of a James Michener plot like Caribbean or Poland or the one on Israel.
    My second thought is to start somewhere around 1889, with the theme of change: I would look at what I expect would be a very gradual but consistent change throughout the old order churches, compared with the radical changes made by the Mennonite General Conference which led to the formation of the Conservative churches. This would not be fiction but a serious study about change.

    • Hi Osiah: Have you read Chariots in the Smoke by Margaret Epp? Your first suggestion reminded me of that book. It’s a very interesting read, but a bit expensive to get. The second suggestion would be interesting as well. Got to think about that a bit. For sure it wouldn’t be a best-seller. But it would be a mind stretcher.

  2. Well, since you asked…. your daughter-in-law and grandsons would definitely read the historical novel you described to us. We’re ready to get started any time;))

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