Read Books, Not Blogs


My friend Tony and I have been having some good conversations about blogs. I like blogs. I write one for crying out loud. But Tony has freshly reminded me why I want to be reading much more from good books than I do from blogs. Here’s a few reasons why.

Books Require More Reflection From the Reader

When I sit down to read John Owen, my brain needs to be fully engaged. His deep theological arguments go on for pages and require intense thought and reflection. When I’m done reading Owen my ears are dripping brain fluid and my heart is warm with truth. Reading a good theological book is like having a deep heart-to-heart conversation with an incredibly godly person.

Generally speaking, blog posts are quick bites. Usually weighing in at 400 words are less, they don’t require the same type of intense, heart-searching thought. I want to read more books because they don’t pander to my television-created short attention span.

Books Are the Result of Much Reflection By the Writer

Writing a book is like giving birth, except without the intense pain and the hospitals and a baby at the end. Seriously though, writing a God-honoring book requires hours of hard work, deep thought, and prayer. They’re the result of many hours of meditation on the word of God. When I sit down to read a book by John Piper, I know that I’m reading the words of a man who has thought long and hard about what it means to follow Christ.

Blogs require much less work by the writer. On a good day I can bang out a blog post in thirty minutes. They’re not the result of two years worth of sermons or hundreds of hours hunched over the sacred text. I hope they’re rooted in scripture and encouraging to the saints. But books flow out of person’s life, blog posts flow out of a person’s current thoughts.

Books Bring Accountability

For a book to be published it must go through a gauntlet of tests. It must be approved by a publishing committee that trusts the author, it must be scrutinized by an editor, and it must be endorsed by reputable people. This process in a sense holds authors accountable.

Blog posts can be written by anyone at anytime in anyplace. No credentials needed. No accountability required. All behind the beautiful anonymity of the Internet.

So will I keep reading blogs? Certainly. But hopefully not at the expense of good books.


  • Emily says:

    great thoughts. thanks.

  • Courtney says:

    I enjoy a handful of blogs and they often offer a quick pick me up or something to chew on for the duration of the day, but I sure do love a good book for some real meat.

    One positive thing that we’ve found in my house is that since hubs and I read many of the same blogs, it really opens up conversations and we often discuss what we’ve read that day. We don’t read books at the same time so don’t discuss those nearly as often.

    Great thoughts!

  • ChrisB says:

    For a book to be published it must go through a gauntlet of tests. It must be approved by a publishing committee that trusts the author, it must be scrutinized by an editor, and it must be endorsed by reputable people.

    Have you walked around a Christian bookstore lately?

    Perhaps you should modify your position to reading older books. Those Christian books that have survived for 50 years or more have done so on their merits, not the author’s fame.

  • francisco says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I enjoy reading a handful of blogs that stimulate my thinking and heart and I enjoy reading books that do the same too.

    I agree with you that blogs flow mainly from one’s own thoughts. That’s why I hesitated starting my own blog. (After all, God will hold me accountable by every word I say/write). But after launching “Blue Flame”, I settled on posting once a week and has been good so far ever since.

    And sure, there are weeks when I’m challenged as to what to post that may edify my readers in a God-honoring way rather than just entertain them with my thoughts. Got some of those? Maybe you got suggestions for your brotha? :)

    your bro in Christ (and fb friend),

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    ChrisB – I realize that there are a lot of horrendous books being published. However, I think that discerning readers can pick up on who is publishing good stuff and who is publishing junk.

    A quick skim of the endorsements gives me a lot of insight into the quality of the book. The publishing house also gives me insight into this as well.

    Does this make sense? Any further thoughts?

  • Marshall says:

    There are just as many lousy books out there (if not more) than there are lousy blogs. Still, I’d go with books because the best books are better than the best blogs.

    In general, I think both have their place.

    Recently, I read a review of a book that convinced me to read the book. Looking back, the review was richer in that it gave the general points without the time commitment required for the book.

    On the other hand, the review would never have been written if the book wasn’t written first.

    Blogs tend to be a lot more conversational than books. For example, I can comment directly and often get a response back from the writer. That doesn’t happen (usually) with book authors, particularly if the book is over 50 years old.

    [One final note: ChrisB, I’m with you regarding the material at Christian bookstores. Many times, I’ve found the best books buried in a bargain bin. Few read many of those older books. But it certainly is a welcome find for those of us who do. :)]

  • Some bloggers DO spend a great deal of time on our entries (which means not posting daily), and do try to write deeper, more thought-provoking material. But I agree with your general premise here…AND with many commenters’ preference for classic Christian literature. There’s no substitute for Owen, Calvin, Spurgeon, and the like. In fact, it was a blog that introduced me to Owen, for which I am grateful.

    I’m thankful for all of the truly God-centered blogs I’ve found.
    Even so, you make an interesting point…

  • Barry says:

    Speaking as both a bibliophile and a blogger, I think you are right. If Solomon was writing today he might amend Ecclesiastes 12: 11-12 to include blogs. I also agree with the commenter above who recommended focusing on old books that have stood the test of time.

  • Bill_R says:

    To tell you the truth, I like the idea of a ratio, but you left out a huge part of the ratio – not intentionally, I’m sure!

    We should probably be reading the Bible more than all other media combined. Jesus, when tempted by Satan, quoted Deu 8:3 “It is written, ?MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.?”. While we can learn much standing on the shoulders of giants, the Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth (John 16:13) when we read what He has authored.

    I am as guilty of this as most, and I fail in the struggle to read my Bible more than all the many books that litter my shelves, even though I have some great books. We should perhaps to keep the GREATEST book preeminent in our reading.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Bill – I agree 100%. The Bible should be #1 above all else…

  • Deron Arnold says:

    I don’t know. I think a well thought out blog can function like a book if it keeps to its mission.
    I think of my blog not only as a journal, but as a book. Each day is like a different section heading.
    And I put as much time and thought into my posts (on a word by word basis) as many authors put into the same number of words in their books.
    And there is a peer review process. The comment section. Plus, if there’s anything that I later find to be inaccurate or incorrect, I can issue a retraction.
    I have tried to read those old books and let me tell you: they’re not easy reading particularly after a full day of intense work. I’m not saying to give up on them, but they do require their own special time. At least for me.

  • David McKay says:

    So … should I stop reading this one?

  • linuxgid says:

    I’ve learned how to be a better person for sure. The desire to grow community is a strong motivator to staying ethical and honest at every turn. :)

  • devchushka says:

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