Living for the Glory of God ~ Vivir para la Gloria de Dios

Lit! by Tony Reinke: A Book Review

Reach courtesy of Joe Thorn and Flickr

Reading is an opportunity to learn. It challenges everything you know, forcing you to dwell on concepts from perspectives that you may not have considered previously. You choose to either accept or reject the author’s premise. Sometimes this has consequences: it may require you to reevaluate your own thinking and possibly adjust your own views. Regardless, written rightly books will add value to your life.
It is concerning to me just how little people do read. The issue goes deeper though. It’s not merely that people don’t read, it’s that they don’t know how to read. I don’t mean words and sentences. Rather, very little time is spend interacting with the text, challenging it and being challenged by it. It wasn’t until the last few years that reading began to take on a whole new level for me, when I began to learn how to read at a deeper level (which requires a commitment to read on a consistent basis). It was fitting for these last few months then, when someone would ask, “What are you reading?” I could respond by saying, “I’m reading a book about how to read books.”
Never before have I found someone to approach the discipline of reading from a biblical worldview. We talk about needing to evaluate everything from the truth of Scripture, so why have we failed to do that with our reading? Lit! by Tony Reinke bridges that gap, and does so very well. And he begins at the beginning . . . with Scripture.  Reinke doesn’t merely harp on the fact that we need to be reading Scripture though. He sets Scripture as the foundation by which we read all other books.
“Scripture is the ultimate grid by which we read every book. Scripture is perfect, sufficient, and eternal. All other books, to some degree, are imperfect, deficient, and temporary. That means that we pick books from the bookstore shelves, we read those imperfect books in light of the perfect Book, the deficient books n light of the sufficient Book, and the temporary books in light of the eternal Book.”
If our world views are to be shaped by Scripture, then that should naturally extend into our reading.
For such a short, quick read, Reinke packs in a lot of information without overwhelming the reader. It’s the detail of that extra information that makes so phenomenal. He has great tips for reading books based on genre, how to interact with the text (i.e. highlight, ask questions, note the purposes, etc.) and those points alone make the book worthwhile. But let me add four other areas where the author went a bit further to add to our understanding about reading that should compel you even more to read this book.
  1. Time: We know that reading Scripture is time with God, but reading books are also time with God. With the Holy Spirit we wrestle with books and what they tell us about both God and God’s people.
  2. Time: Make reading a priority and prioritize your reading. Time is limited, and therefore we have to prioritize our reading time. If reading is not a priority, then reading will never take place. Because time is limited, prioritize what you read. Don’t spend your time on books that won’t add value to your life (this doesn’t mean you should stop reading fiction or something like that).
  3. Time: Time with technology also impacts our ability to read. Reinke brings in some insight in how technology has impacted our ability to read for an extended period of time. Insightful and intelligent, this is the section that I appreciated the most.
  4. Time: Yes, the four reasons we should read is because of how Reinke deals with the issue of time, but in various ways. The common claim is that we don’t have enough time to read. He dissects and destroys this fallacious way of thinking in an incredible way. He breaks it up into smaller bits and shows how reading a book per week is not an unreasonable goal (a goal doesn’t necessarily mean you meet that goal every week) a goal that both Reink and I have in common.
There is perhaps one area in which I would disagree with the author and that’s the use of technology in reading. He is quite straightforward that his recommendation and preference is that all reading be done using paper books instead of the modern e-readers. Frankly, I enjoy the feel of the pages between my fingers. I enjoy writing in the margins. There is an attachment to hard copy books that does not happen  with an e-reader. However, I am also at a point in my life in which an e-reader is a major advantage. As a missionary, having my books available electronically makes my transition from place to place easer. It means that when I am on the move, I can keep my books with me. That practicality is a major asset that is hard to write-off (Reinke and I are actually pretty close in our views here).
The end result is this: Every reader needs to read this book. It will shape how you read forevermore and it will guide you in making effective use of the time you have to read.

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