This week I participated, as I have on 23 April the past few years, in World Book Night.

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Connecting with Culture

Words, Words, Words

This week I participated, as I have on 23 April the past few years, in World Book Night. Timed to coincide with the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth 450 years ago, World Book Night seeks to open up the wonderful world of reading to those who don’t normally have much access to books.

Shakespeare contributed around 850,000 words to the body of English literature, approximately 1,700 of which he invented himself. The words of this humbly-educated man from a small town in the middle of England have travelled the world, been learned, recited, performed, quoted and parodied more times and in more places than anyone could count.
I love words – which is fortunate, given that I make my living from them! I like reading them, writing them, and editing them. I enjoy curling up with a good book, and have even been known to spend an evening happily browsing the dictionary. Yet, while the process of reading is a joy in itself, it quickly becomes an empty one if the reader does not absorb or learn anything from his or her reading.
Just knowing the truth is not enough. Having the world’s most extensive vocabulary might be very admirable, and make you a whizz at Scrabble, but it won’t make you a better person, or equip you to make a difference in the world. To be effective, you need to take those words and translate them into action.
Jesus, the living Word himself, was our example in this, not just telling us how to live a life pleasing to God, but showing us – the Word becoming flesh and living amongst us. Indeed, our salvation requires not just reading God’s Word and intellectually assenting to its truths, but action: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.’
I hope the books I gave out to a dozen rough sleepers this week will stimulate their minds and imaginations and give them at least a few hours of pleasure. But I hope the words I read – and write – every day are changing me more deeply, transforming me into a person God can use for his purposes and his glory. May we all be known not only as great readers, but great doers too. For just as faith without works is dead, so reading without action is dead – just words, words, words.

Jennie Pollock
Jennie Pollock is a logophile, a bibliophile and a theophile. She blogs at and tweets as @missjenniep


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