Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) by Tony Reinke
I simply love this book! I underlines almost every pages saying to myself, “Correct!”; “I understand”; “This is good”; “I agree!” with my pen. “Lit” is short for literature, which is long for books. It represents many millions of books we can pick up and read. This is a helpful guide on how to better read, what to read, when to read and why we should read. I wish I had read this book sooner! There are two parts (I includes short quotation from each chapters):
Part 1: A Theology of Books and Reading
Chapter 1 Paper Pulp and Etched Granite: Laying the Cornerstone of Our Theology of Books. “If we fail to prioritize the eternal Word over temporary books, our reading will never be distinctly Christian” (pg. 28).
Chapter 2 Wide-Eyed into the Son: How Personal Sin and the Gospel Shape Our Literacy. “My reading did not make me godly… The sight of Christ’s glory permanently changed my life. And it forever changed how I read books” (pg. 35).
Chapter 3 Reading Is Believing: Savouring Books in an Eye-Candy Culture. “As a word-centred people we must learn to prize language in a visually-dominated world. If our hearts prioritize images over language, our hunger for books will erode” (pg. 47).
Chapter 4 Reading from across the Canyon: How a Biblical Worldview Equips Us to Benefit from Books. “A firm grasp of biblical worldview, learned directly from the study of Scripture, is essential for Christian book reader because distortions to the biblical worldview can be found on every shelf in the bookstore” (pg. 63).
Chapter 5 The Giver’s Voice: Seven Benefits of Reading Non-Christian Books. #1 Non-Christian literature can describe the world, how it functions, and how to subdue it; #2 It highlight common life experiences; #3 It can expose the human heart; #4 It can teach us wisdom and valuable moral lessons; #5 It can capture beauty; #6 It begs questions that can only be resolved in Christ; and #7 It can echo spiritual truth and edify the soul.
Chapter 6 The God Who Slays Dragons: The Purifying Power of Christian Imagination. “The imagination is a God-given ability to receive truth and meaning” (pg. 87).
Part 2: Some Practical Advice on Book Reading
Chapter 7 Read with Resolve: Six Priorities that Decide What Books I Read (and Don’t Read). #1 Reading Scripture; #2 Reading to know and delight in Christ; #3 Reading to kindle spiritual reflection; #4 Reading to initiate personal change; #5 Reading to pursue vocational excellence; and #6 Reading to enjoy a good story (Author’s lists of priorities).
Chapter 8 How to Read a Book: 20 Tips and Tricks for Reading Nonfiction Book. “To better read our Bibles, or any nonfiction book, we must work to improve our reading skills… by pursuing self-discipline and seeking to excel in reading books…” (pg. 118)
Chapter 9 Literature is Life: Tapping into the Benefits of Fiction Literature. #1 Fictional literature can help us explore abstract human experiences; #2 It can deepen our appreciation for concrete human experience; #3 It expands our range of experiences; and #4 It provides beauty and creativity to be enjoyed.
Chapter 10 Too Busy to Read: Six Ways to Find (and Protect) the Time You Need to Read Books. #1 Expect resistance from your heart; #2 Make time to read, not excuses for why you don’t read. We all have good excuses; #3 Cultivate a hunger for books by reading (and rereading) great books; #4 Set priorities, and let them drive your book selections; #5 Stop doing something else in order to make time to read; and #6 Try reading three (or more) books at a time and take advantage of your environments.
Chapter 11 Driven to Distraction: How Internet Habits Cripple Book Reading. “As Christians, convinced of the important of book reading, we must periodically gauge the effects of [power of distractions] the Internet and social media upon our lives” (pg. 145).
Chapter 12 Marginalia: The Fine Art of Defacing Books with Pencils, Pens and Highlighters. Quoting John Piper, “If it’s worth reading, it’s worth writing in” (pg. 153).
Chapter 13 Reading Together: Building Community One Book at a Time. “One great way to sink details deep into our long-term memory is to read and discuss books with friends… God intended books to be read for the benefit of the community” (pg. 156)
Chapter 14 Raising Readers: How Parents and Pastors Can Ignite in Others a Love for Book Reading. Tips for parents: #1 Fill your home with books; #2 Read to your kids; #3 Don’t stop reading to your kids; #4 Read your books in front of your kids; #5 Teach young children to read; #6 Push entertainment into the background; #7 Listen to audio books in the car; #8 Hunt for the best books; #9 Anticipate new books; #10 Celebrate the classics; #11 Cultivate your child’s moral imagination; #12 Help interpret worldviews as you read to your children; #13 Read your favourite excepts to your children; #14 Invite your children to read to the family; #15 Challenge your children to improve books; and #16 Most importantly, read the Bible together as family. Tips for pastors: #1 Make opportunities to talk books; #2 Illustrate sermon points with classic literature; #3 Pepper your sermon with direct quotes from Christian living books; #4 Lead a book discussion group; #5 Start a church library or book table; #6 Maintain a list of recommended books on your church website; #7 Suggest books regularly as part of a book-of-the-month feature; #8 Recommend chapters of books; #9 Answer theological questions with pages from books; and #10 Give books as gifts.
Chapter 15 Happily Ever After: Five Marks of a Healthy Book Reader. #1 Mature readers prize wisdom; #2 They cherish old books; #3 They keep literature in its place; #4 They avoid making books into idols; and #5 They cling to the Saviour. “[Our] confidence before God can only be in Jesus – not in how smart we are, not in how many theology books we read, not in how we order our reading priorities, not in how inefficiently we use our reading time… Regardless of how many books we read, we cling to the old rugged cross” (pg. 185).
I recommend this book my wholeheartedly. There is only one reason why I type lengthy about the contents of this book – I want you (especially my friends, parents and pastors) to read books!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.