November 9, 2019


A Christian Guide to Reading Books


“A wide gap separates a reader who simply consumes books from a reader who diligently seeks wisdom. Book consumers view books as “things to get read”. Wisdom seekers view books as fuel for slow and deliberate meditation.”


Frequently overshadowed on the Ask Pastor John podcast by Piper himself and best known as “that guy who interviews John Piper”, Reinke quietly shines in his unassuming but consistently excellent writing. Lit! is another example of a modestly phenomenal book. He stirs the reader with the importance of reading, and clarifies to the reader how to read. Accessible, but commanding a deep understanding of culture and a biblically-shaped lens to view it with, Lit! is a massive success.


Apart from the stand-out chapter on why (good quality) non-Christian literature should be sought after, and the personally challenging critique of a burning-through-books mentality, Lit! is delightfully pragmatic. The book is rich in ways to incorporate reading into a busy lifestyle. One wonderfully wise tip I have adopted from Reinke is to read several books at once. Different books suit different times and moods, and so reading more than one at once paradoxically makes it easier to read. His 6 categories are:


  1. Reading Scripture.

  2. Books to know and delight in Christ.

  3. Books to kindle spiritual reflection.

  4. Books to initiate personal change.

  5. Books to pursue vocational excellence.

  6. Books to enjoy a good story.


My adaptation is the following:


  1. Reading Scripture.

  2. Hard Christian books.

  3. Easier Christian books.

  4. Books to pursue vocational excellence.

  5. Hard non-Christian books.

  6. Easier non-Christian books.


I have been thinking for a while whether it is elitist to exhort other Christians to read. Reinke, for example, suggests quoting classical literature in sermons. As somebody who has been university-educated amongst some who are not, I am already nervous about alienating people without illustrating my sermons with Shakespeare. However, I believe that every Christian has the duty to study the Bible to the best of his or her ability, and I think that it side-steps the criticism of elitism to extend this principle to reading more broadly.


In any case, I would, and do, strongly recommend Lit! to every Christian.



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