Lit! A Christian guide to reading books
Secular shelf life
In defence of literature
A Christian guide to reading books
By Tony Reinke
Crossway. 202 pages. £9.99
ISBN 978 1 433 522 260
If you don’t normally read my column, then you are exactly the person who should be reading this book.
Tony Reinke has written an outstanding argument for the good of reading, a defence which is sparklingly fresh, accessible and wise.
The first 60 pages are devoted to a theology of reading in which Reinke explores the value of the written word, looking at how God’s self-revelation through the written word of Scripture impacts how we read all other written words. He calls upon the Reformers as well as early Christian writers to show how non-Christian, as well as Christian, literature can be read for God-honouring profit.
Particularly suggestive was the chapter on how imagination plays a vital part in our understanding and ambition. Reinke understands our image-soaked, concentration-short, postmodern culture and calls us to construct a strong Christian worldview so that we can engage with our contemporary environment safely.
Through the next eight chapters Reinke provides stimulating practical guidance; from strategies for reading and annotation, to choice of non-fiction and how to prioritise Scripture as well as whether or not to buy a Kindle! This all helped me to think more carefully about planning my reading and stirred me to be more ambitious in my pursuit of theology. I was left wanting more (there is certainly more to say about the way novels in particular can affect us for good or ill), and I can unreservedly recommend this book: it is a rare example of significant thought accessibly and practically presented. I’ll be pressing it onto my teenaged children, then encouraging the students in our church to take it up, and I know my husband will be passing it on to his apprentices. Reader, read it!