Books are precious gifts from God. When we are downcast and all life displays a drab, desolate hue, books can bring joy and hope. When we face difficult decisions, books provide data to help us make intelligent, informed choices. There is a book for every time and place—but not all books are equally valuable. Twice each year CHRISTIANITY TODAY prepares for you a book issue; it will help guide you to the right book for the occasion. Don’t waste time reading the wrong book. Most of all, don’t ignore the great treasury of wisdom that is yours for the asking. Read the best books for your need: to prepare a sermon or a Sunday school lesson or a speech to the local Kiwanis; or read for sheer recreation of your soul. A friend asked Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes when he was over 90, why, at his advanced age, he was reading Plato’s Republic. “To improve my mind,” the jurist responded. One reason public speakers are so often boring is that they don’t know anything interesting to say. For that malady, CHRISTIANITY TODAY’s book issues are a sure cure.

Helen Wolter reminds us of one recent period in history when children’s books (largely evangelical) effected a major transformation within our society. Did you know that a century ago Sunday school libraries contained twice as many volumes as all public, town, college, school, and university libraries combined?

Finally, sociologist Bee-Lan Wang and Bible institute president George Sweeting provide thoughtful articles about the Christian’s responsibility to the poor of this world. President Sweeting discusses it as a biblical command, while Dr. Wang analyzes the ways by which many affluent evangelicals seek to free themselves from their biblical responsibility.

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