Thursday, December 6, 2007

On Reading: Thoughts and Lists

One of my goals for myself is to read lots of good books that will teach me to think clearly and to better understand and defend the Christian faith. One of my goals for this site is to get you to do the same thing.

To that end I’ve collected some interesting posts on the topic of reading broadly and deeply.

Al Mohler offers Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books (HT: Challies) Please read the whole post, but here are his basic suggestions:

1. Maintain regular reading projects.
2. Work through major sections of Scripture.
3. Read all the titles written by some authors.
4. Get some big sets and read them through.
5. Allow yourself some fun reading, and learn how to enjoy reading by reading enjoyable books.
6. Write in your books; mark them up and make them yours.
This is how I am approaching this:
1. I can’t devote the time to reading he does, but I do have a project I’m working on. Currently I’m studying the so-called problem of evil. I’m also studying how authors have transmitted their ideas through fiction.

2. I’m not good about this kind of thing, but right now I am doing a study of 1 John.

3. This I really hadn’t planned on doing, but he’s convinced me: I plan on reading all of C.S. Lewis’ works that I can. I’ll probably do Francis Schaeffer too.

4. Well, Schaeffer probably counts. I’d also like to read through the Works of Jonathan Edwards, B.B. Warfield, and the Ante-Nicene fathers, among others.

5. Ok, this I do readily.

6. I’ve only recently started doing this, but it helps, especially when engaging in careful study (like the problem of evil). Here Adler’s suggestions for marking books have been reproduced for us.

What about you? Is there any of this you're already doing or plan to start? Let us know in the comments.

In Popular Christian Literature as a Reflection of an Intellectual Crisis, the author says most of the Christian bestsellers are the literary equivalent of, well, television. “It dumbs you down, is easy to get through, entertains you, and makes you feel good. The only lasting benefit is that it perhaps can improve your vocabulary.” The comments are worth reading as well.

Tony at The Shepherd’s Scrapbook shares his notes on Mark Dever’s reading plan: each month is devoted to a different author in an annual cycle. It’s an interesting approach you might want to consider.

Tony also quotes C.S. Lewis’ argument for reading old books – it helps us see our own generation’s blind spots.

Here Tony shares his thoughts on learning to read and critical thinking.

Greg Peters: Why We Should Read Lesser-Known Books:

Greg Koukl: How to Read Less More and Twice as Fast

Here I’m going to link to a lot of reading lists. No one, least of all me, expects anyone to read all these books. But in an age when there is lots to read and little time to do it, we can sometimes spend a lot of time reading junk. How do we find the good stuff? Ask around. Friends, pastors, professors, and bloggers can tell you what they’ve found profitable. (I also check Amazon reviews, but they’re only worth so much.) Here are lists of books that informed Christians have found useful and think will be profitable for you. This may also be useful for gift ideas. Enjoy!

First, Scot McKnight on deciding What to Buy

Stand to Reason's Recommended Reading List
John Mark Reynolds' 30 Books Every College Student Should Read
Tullian Tchividjian's 20 Books on Christians and Culture
RC Sproul's recommendations
The theology bundles at Monergism
Discerning Reader offers book recommendations by a number of learned folks and Challies gives us his 2007 recommendations
Justin Taylor's recommendations on natural law and writing/publishing
Al Mohler recommends 10 Great Christian Biographies
James Emery White has reading lists on a number of topics

If by any chance you still need ideas, these books have some pretty extensive reading lists:
Love Your God With All Your Mind
The Portable Seminary
The Case for Christ (and his other "Case" books)
Discipleship of the Mind
A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics


Tia Lynn said...

Great tips. I am on the same journey. I try to read diverse books that present different perspectives and worldviews. I find that by challenging my faith with both affirmations and criticisms, it strengthens it. :)

Annette said...

Thank you for the list of suggestions regarding books to read. Have to admit, I have a hard time "writing" in books. yes, I want to make them mine, but at the same time I don't want to mess up future readings of books OR make another reader focus on things in the book that they might not wish to really focus on...and marking up books does focus attention on those marked sections. So it's a tough call at times.