Recovering the Lost Art of Reading by Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes

This is a book that will warm the heart of avid readers, English majors and English teachers. Are you reading more but enjoying it less? Although it’s true people are reading more than ever, much of that reading is done on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and websites. This means the quality of what we read is lacking, and we are not reading deeply or closely. There is no time for analytical thought, and even practiced readers have difficulty staying focused. The authors believe that this trend can be reversed and they offer many suggestions about how to do that.

This book starts by asking, “what is literature”? (believe it or not, many scholars now claim that question cannot be answered). Here is the definition proposed by the authors:

“.(literature is)… a concrete, interpretive presentation of human experience in an artistic form.”

The next question considered is this: why does literature matter? Here are some of the thoughts presented:

  1. God revealed Himself to the human race in a book that is primarily literary in nature
  2. Literature helps us to see the world and human experience accurately
  3. It shapes us into thinking people through encountering ideas which can be applied to life
  4. It provides artistic beauty and pleasure
  5. Literature transports us –it takes our focus off ourselves so that we gain empathy for different people, cultures and other times
Recovering the Lost Art of Reading

The book goes on to give suggestions for reading different genres — poetry, fantasy, nonfiction and more. It provides tips for incorporating more reading into daily life (just like other spiritual disciplines). They discuss what makes a book “good” and affirm some of the things I have always felt intuitively — for example, many books labeled as “Christian” are formulaic, shallow and not at all edifying. In fact, books do not have to be overtly Christian to advance our spiritual life. Books of excellence teach us to examine the human condition and human experience. As Christians, we then apply a biblical world view to interpret that experience. In other words, good literature makes us think, and thinking helps us to grow spiritually.

Finally included a discussion of the vocation, calling and creativity of the writer. Writing is a gift given by God, a gift to bring truth and beauty into the world.

The conclusion: Read More Books! It’s good for you!

VERDICT: 5 Stars. Probably not for everyone, but I loved it.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

Recovering the Lost Art of Reading: A Quest for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful | Crossway

For more posts about reading see:

More About Books & Reading

The Art of Mindful Reading by Ella Berthoud– Book Review

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

1 thought on “Recovering the Lost Art of Reading by Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes

  1. Pingback: A Couple of Good Books | Lutheran Ladies Connection

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