As soon as I learned to read as a young child I began devouring books of all kinds. In my early teenage years, the focus of my reading shifted from reading only my Bible to beginning to read theology books of all kinds. Whether it’s reading commentaries, books on a variety of theological topics, or biographies, I have a huge passion perhaps even leaning to an addiction to reading books. It was with great excitement then that I read LIT! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke.
LIT! is broken up into two parts. In the first part of the book Tony lays out a theology of books that emphasizes how the Gospel should inform our reading. He points out that “the work of God’s grace in your life is the solid foundation that supports lifelong reading goals” (Reinke, 16). The grid Reinke wants his readers to read through is Scripture. He notes that “Scripture is the ultimate grid by which we read every book. Scripture is perfect, sufficient and eternal” (Reinke, 26).
My two favorite chapters in this book were chapters twelve and fifteen. In chapter twelve, Reinke explains the fine art of defacing books with pencils, pens and highlighters. This chapter intrigued me because for Christmas, I asked and received a huge box of highlighters. I love to use highlighters and highlight important points in the book so whether I am reviewing books, or going back to the book later, I can quickly leaf through the book and find the important points I’ve highlighted. Reinke notes that he “writes in my books to weave them into my library” (Reinke, 149).
Using a highlighter while reading is something new I’ve done in the last year or so. Thus far it’s helped me to slow down and think critically about what the author has written. Reinke encourages active readers to “wield biblically-sharpened discernment.” Reading quickly through books will mean that you read more books in a given year, but the goal of reading is not who reads the most, but who reads the best. The goal of reading well is to grow in the grace of God. Using a highlighter while reading has helped me slow down while reading and highlight the important parts of the book.
Tony in chapter five gives five marks of a healthy book reader: 1) Mature readers prize wisdom, 2) mature readers cherish old books, 3) mature readers keep literature in its place, 4) mature readers avoid making books into idols, and mature readers cling to the Savior (Reinke, 177). Reading good godly Christian authors can help Christians grow in their understanding of the Word of God and the Gospel of God, but Tony is spot on when he says “regardless of how many books we read, we cling to the old rugged cross” (Reinke, 185).
Dr. Russell Moore in his endorsement of LIT! comments that “this engagingly written book will make you think, but it will also provide practical, winsome advice on how to become the right kind of reader for the glory of God.” Maybe you love to read. Maybe you hate to read. Perhaps you don’t think you have time to read at all or only read Christian books. Perhaps you think “I’m not any good at reading, or there is too much to read.” Reading LIT! will help all types of readers to become better readers. LIT! is more than just a book about how to read it is a book that combines knowledge of the Word of God, and theology with a desire to help people enjoy God through reading widely and reading well to the glory of God.
Reading has always been a passion of mine and will continue to be so until my last breathe. In reading LIT! by Tony Reinke I was helped in a variety of ways, but most importantly with the reminder to slow down and enjoy each book, I’m reading. If you’re like me and read a lot then you need LIT! Even if you don’t read or think reading has no value then you also need to read LIT! I recommend reading LIT not only to learn to read better, but to gain a biblical/theological understanding of how reading can help you grow in the grace of God.
Reading this book will help you to enjoy reading books, but more importantly than that it will point you to cling to the Cross of Christ. At the end of the day I can think of no greater compliment to extend to a Christian author than to point out that Tony has done a great service to the Church in writing this book by pointing his readers to cling to the Cross. Reading LIT will guide you into reading better, but it will also call you to look not to books for ultimate satisfaction but rather to look to, mediate upon and run to the Cross.
Author: Tony Reinke
Publisher: Crossway (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”