Friday, September 11, 2015
Bibliophile Tabletalk #1 (An Interview With Collin McConkey)
As writer's conference prep hurtles forward, I have a couple of bloggers who have kindly offered to help me out with guests posts for the next two Fridays. I'm excited to host new voices here on the blog, and today I have a fun reading interview for you all. My all-around awesome brother is a bibliophile just as dedicated as I am, and I asked him some questions about e-readers, book lists, and reading habits that I thought you would all enjoy from a guy's perspective. So without further ado, I'll hand you over to Collin.
Schuyler: Tell us a little about yourself. Hobbies? Education? Family? Favorite food?
Collin: Hello, Schuyler. I’m glad to be writing for your blog. I happen to be your oldest sibling, and currently am still living at room while transitioning from college life. I graduated from Thomas Edison State College in February of this year, where I earned a BSBA (Bachelors of Science in Business Administration) in Computer Information Systems. After finishing work for Grainger Industrial Supply, where I worked for over two years, I am currently looking to put my education to work in my career. During my free time, I enjoy playing and listening to music, powerlifting, and spending time with family and friends.
Schuyler: What are you currently reading? And what do you think about it so far?
Collin: Currently, my reading has been an assortment of various theological books, as well as a concentration on the raging same-sex controversy in the United States. Within the last few weeks, I’ve focused heavily on reading about the homosexual agenda and the Christian defense and articulation of biblical marriage from the Scriptures. The last few books I’ve read in this category have been The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Dr. Robert Gagnon, What Does the Bible Really Say about Homosexuality? By Kevin DeYoung, Can You Be Gay and Christian? By Dr. Michael Brown, The Same-Sex Controversy by Dr. James White, and am finishing up Outlasting the Gay Revolution by Dr. Michael Brown, which I would heartily recommend to all those desirous of standing firm on Christian conviction in Christian love during our time.
Schuyler: Do you keep a list of the books you’ve read every year? How many books are you up to currently?
Collin: Yes, I have kept a list of books over the last few years for each year. Currently I am very close to 40 books for the year. While not as high as others, the bulk of my reading is on scholarly books that are a few hundred pages in length. But I also intersperse them with shorter books on non-fiction subjects, too.
Schuyler: I know you’ve mentioned using a website to catalogue the books you own. Tell us a little bit about it.
Collin: I use LibraryThing.com in order to catalog my books, however, as I own close to 1,200 books I have yet to catalog them all. Currently I have 542 of them cataloged. LibraryThing.com is free, and it provides good tools for locating, cataloging, and tagging the books in your personal collection. You can easily add books by ISBN number and see how many other members also own that book. You are also able to see your most popular authors, with John Calvin being the author I have the most works by. Two other top authors in my library are John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul. There are many other great features for readers to use on this website, as well.
Schuyler: You’re primarily a non-fiction reader. What are your favorite aspects of nonfiction, and why would you recommend including it in a balanced reading diet?
Collin: Growing up, I would generally read more fiction than non-fiction, with strong penchants for mysteries, science fiction, and—of course—historical fiction. As I got older, however, I developed a thirst for knowledge that drove me to read largely non-fiction. In some years, I have not read any fiction. While fiction is certainly a valid genre with much to offer, I rarely read for entertainment, but purely for education.
My nonfiction diet consists of a constant stream of topics related to Christian apologetics, particularly in terms of biblical worldview analysis on current cultural threats. I also read many books about the Bible in order to equip me to be a better servant of the Word. However, I also endeavor to read history, as well. Reading about theology and history are two very valuable avenues of a literary diet for the life of a Christian.
Schuyler: You also like reading a lot of e-books. What are some aspects of reading on an electronic device that you find better than using a print book?
Collin: I prefer to read printed books, for, as you would well know for your own books, the ambiance of a printed book that you can hold in your hands and put on a shelf with other books warms the heart of a reader more than pulling up a book on a digital device. However, since I have more books on Kindle than I do in print, I have found that reading Kindle books provides more cost-effectiveness and can far more easily be transported when you wish to read away from home.
Schuyler: I know you’re one for finding some great book deals. :) How do you find them? Any websites to recommend to our readers?
Collin: I have subscribed to Tim Challie’s blog for about the last three years, and each day in his “A La Carte” emails, he provides a list of the daily kindle deals. I have found this to be invaluable in growing my own Kindle library, as he always recommends excellent books that are on sale for excellent prices. Sometimes he even locates free deals for that particular day.
The other website, familiar to those who study Reformed theology, is Monergism.com. Every book they produce is free for digital download in multiple formats, and they continue to add new works as time goes by. This website is a great way to procure the writings of the historic theologians and authors in Christian history. I remember reading some of the papers Augustine wrote against the Pelegians while en route to Vancouver Island in June of 2013, for example, as Monergism offered them for free.
Schuyler: And lastly, I know you’ve read your Bible extensively, to the point where you’re now reading it every 90 days. Why do you consider the Bible the most important book you’ve ever read, and what tips would you have for someone just getting started in daily Scripture reading?
Collin: I began reading the Bible at the age of 7, and readers interested further in my story of daily Scripture reading over the last couple decades can visit this post here. For ten years, I read through the Bible in the New International Version, completing 10 times through Scripture. When I was closing in on age 18, I switched to one more yearly Bible reading plan that went in canonical order, but after that, I switched to reading through the Bible in 90 days in the English Standard Version. The Scripture alone has the divine power to convict us of sin, encourage us in obedience, and ultimately let us hear for ourselves the words of the living God. Nothing is more important in the life of the believer than hearing the voice of God, and God’s voice is none other than the written words of Holy Scripture.
For a beginning reader, I would recommend finding a plan that works through the Bible in a year. Find the time in the day when you are most alert, whether that be morning and evening, and consistently stick with your plan. While my current reading speed now allows me to read through 1-16 chapters in an average of 8 minutes, I certainly didn’t start out that way, and the beginning reader of Scripture can read through the Bible in one year with an average of 20 minutes a day. Finally, reading and sharing thoughts with a reading partner is a valuable way to stay accountable and motivated.
Wasn't that fun, folks? Check out Collin's corner of the web at International Christian Bible Fellowship, where you can learn more about his weekly online Bible studies, catch up on past study notes, and check out his articles on cultural and Biblical commentary. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Collin is a 22-year-old college graduate who earned a BSBA in Computer Information Systems through Thomas Edison State College. He has studied Christian apologetics for several years with an emphasis in presuppositional apologetics. He enjoys discussions regarding theology, biblical worldview, and biblical political theory. In 2011, he joined the group of teachers with the former Theological Discussion Group (TDG) of CollegePlus before starting the ICBF in January of 2012. He enjoys playing sports and trains in powerlifting. He enjoys mathematics and science, as well as music.