Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review of Lit! by Tony Reinke

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
by Tony Reinke
ISBN 978-1-4335-2226-0
Published by Crossway
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Anybody who knows me knows I love reading. After all, why would I be writing all these book reviews if I did not love books? So, when I had the opportunity to pick up Lit!, I grabbed it.

As you might expect from the subtitle, Lit! focuses on encouraging people to read, and instructing people how to read well. The book is divided into two sections. The first section of the book is a theological guide to reading as a faithful Christian. The second section of the book is practical. It gives guidelines and advice on how to become a good reader. Included in this section is how to read across genres, and how to find time to read in a busy world. In both sections there is a caution that our visual/digital culture distracts us from thinking and reading well. I could not agree more.

There is a lot to commend about this book, and there are a few perspectives that I did not agree with as much. First, the good things about the book. Lit! is full of wise words. The guidelines for non-fiction reading are stellar. Reinke correctly reports the benefits and challenges of reading as a spiritual discipline. I resonated with the truth he shared about reading not being transformational without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I felt comforted as Reinke shared about the different kinds of reading non-fiction, because I learned that skimming as one reads non-fiction is both common and helpful to others as well as myself. There are several fun turns of phrase in this book as well, which make it fun to read.

As I said, I was disappointed by some of the text. Most of the disappointment had to do with the influence of the "New Calvinist" movement upon the book. There were several cautions about reading fiction that I disagreed with in Lit!. For example, Reinke overstated his case against visual mediums over against the written and spoken word. He shared concerns about children reading Harry Potter, which I thought was a little bit silly. And he believed that fiction should not help guide worldview development, where I believe story is what most powerfully forms identity regardless of whether we like it or not.

All and all though, I wouldn't let these concerns keep you from getting Lit! into your library.

(This book was provided by Amazon Vine in exchange for a review)

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