And discover why you should.
When it comes to reading good books, we need all the help we can get. And Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes have given us a boost with their book, Recovering the Lost Art of Reading.
This book is divided into three sections: Reading is a Lost Art, Reading Literature, and Recovering the Art of Reading. Each section is designed to encourage us to read more and read better, and especially to read with a view to serving the Lord more fruitfully.
Part 1: Reading is a Lost Art argues that serious and careful reading has fallen on hard times in our day. Those who read at all read mostly on a device, and typically not in the kinds of reading that edify. Our failure to read deprives us of important resources for making our way in the world and for getting beyond the realm of mere self-interest into a wider worldview. Our sense of beauty has declined; we’ve lost touch with the past; our understanding of humanity is hampered; and we have lost a vision of the larger world, all because we have left off reading serious good books.
Part 2: Reading Literature is something of a handbook for relearning how to read various kinds of literature. Featured in this section is a good introduction to the idea of literature and why it matters, followed by chapters on how best to read stories, poetry, novels, fantasy, children’s books, creative nonfiction, and the Bible – as literature. This last chapter (13) was the most helpful of this section, since reading the Bible as literature and not just as a source of doctrine can greatly enrich one’s reading and meditation. The chapter on poetry was a bit of a disappointment. I felt it needed more space and development, although what was provided was probably about right for this size book.
Part 3: Recovering the Art of Reading was the most satisfying section of the book for me. The discussions of truth, goodness, and beauty, and of how to discern these in our reading, were very helpful. The chapter on “Discovering Literary Excellence” shows us how to distinguish good books from others, and how to appreciate the excellence good books can bring to our lives. Additional chapters offer practical advice about how to recover time for reading and to let reading play a role in our personal and spiritual growth.
Recovering the Lost Art of Reading can be a helpful guide for getting on track with a reading program that is broad-based, informative, enjoyable, and a contributing factor to growing in the Lord and His calling.