The Art of Mindful Reading by Ella Berthoud– Book Review

My husband and I were recently on vacation, and we visited another congregation for worship.  The Pastor there, in his sermon, mentioned that everything in our life is stewardship;  i.e. stewardship is not just about how we use our money, time and talents for the church, but how we use our entire life in service to Christ.  That means everything we do can strengthen or weaken our Christian walk.

So, in going with that thought, as readers, the things we read and the way we read is important.  It’s part of the stewardship of our life that God expects of each one of us.  I have always felt that God speaks to me through my reading– and not just my “religious” reading–not only the Bible, or Christian books, but EVERYTHING.  Often, without planning on my part, I’ll find myself reading books with a similar theme or topic, and I know it’s something God means for me to study or think about.  Sometimes I read a book out of obligation — I need to review it for the blog, or a friend loans it to me–only to find it is just what I needed at the time.  I truly believe that God speaks to us in ways that come naturally to us, and for me, reading is one of those ways.  I don’t like surprises and thunderbolts — I need to mull things over and gradually come to my acceptance or conclusion.  God uses reading to help me do this.

This book, The Art of Mindful Reading, is not a Christian book, but a book that can help you, as a Christian, to pay attention to your reading.  Maybe, like me, you’ll find that it is one way God speaks to you.  The author is a bibliotherapist — you’re probably wondering what that is.  Here’s how Ms. Berthoud describes her work:

“My job involves looking at the entire person–their life, their tastes, their passions, desires, hopes, dreams and any issues they may have.  I then prescribe the ideal books for them to read right now–according to what is happening in their lives at the moment, what new paths they might be taking or what major life events are happening to them.  I aim to give the right books to the right people at the right time in their lives, and therefore I take reading as a pastime very seriously.”

Hmmm… I might say God is my bibliotherapist!

This is a beautiful little book, and you’ll learn all sorts of things about how reading is good for you.  With every book you read, you can live a life different from your own.  You learn about different people, places and times.  It creates empathy with others.  In addition, reading affects your physical and mental health.  Did you know that readers of fiction live, on average, two years longer than non-readers?  Reading slows your heart rate, and as your eyes move back and forth across the page, it creates a stress-reducing, meditative state.

The author helps you to determine what kind of reader you are, makes suggestions for creating your own special reading space, gives suggested exercises for reading more deeply (mindfully) and journaling about your reading.

VERDICT:  5 stars.  I loved it.  Readers!  Run out and get a copy today!

Book Learning

“One Book is enough, but a thousand books is not too many!”
Martin Luther

I definitely agree with Martin Luther on this one.  Among my friends and family, I”m known as an avid reader, and sometimes even accused of being “obsessed” with books.  I read the Bible every week, but I’m also usually reading a novel and a book on some religious or spiritual topic at the same time.  That doesn’t include magazines, articles on the internet, etc..  After I retired, I worked at the public library for a while, and I’ve been in a book club.  I love being around books and discussing books.

When you’re a reader you are constantly learning.  Even a novel may teach all kinds of things about different times, places and people, You mull over ethical questions and are exposed to different points of view.   Here are some of the ways reading is good for you:

  1. It slows the process of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  2. It reduces stress.  Reading the Bible or other spiritual texts has been shown to lower blood pressure
  3. It expands your vocabulary
  4. Gives you stronger analytical and thinking skills
  5. Improves focus and concentration
  6. Readers are better writers
  7. Promotes inner peace and tranquility
  8. Provides free entertainment

We can thank the reformers and their desire to make the Bible accessible to everyone for our own ability today to read and learn about practically any topic we chose.  So read your Bible (and something from another book) every day.  You’ll be amazed at what you can learn!  In my next post, I’ll tell you what I’ve been reading and learning.