Recovering the Lost Art of Reading: A Quest for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful – Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes

Recovering the Lost Art of Reading Ryken and Mathes
Recovering the Lost Art of Reading: A Quest for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful by Leland Ryken, Glenda Faye Mathes
Published by Crossway Books on March 23, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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four-half-stars

A Christian Perspective on the Joys of Reading
In today's technology-driven culture, reading has become a lost art. With smartphones offering information at the tap of a finger, reading a book is often seen as a tedious and outdated activity. Christians are not immune to this problem, as many find it hard to read books--even the Bible--consistently and attentively. Recovering the Lost Art of Reading addresses these timely issues by exploring the importance of reading generally as well as studying the Bible as literature, giving practical suggestions along the way. In this helpful guide, Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes encourage a new generation of readers to overcome the notion of reading as a duty and learn to see it as a delight.

In this book, literature professor Leland Ryken joins with writer and speaker Glenda Faye Mathes to encourage Christians to recover healthy reading habits in a digital age. In the first part of the book, they explain why reading has become a lost art, and in the following section, they explain what literature is, why it matters, and what it offers us. They share advice for how readers can get the most out of different genres, understanding their unique natures and appreciating the ways that they speak to human experience and deeper truths. They write about stories, novels, poetry, fantasy, children’s books, and creative nonfiction, and they also write about the importance of reading the Bible with literary understanding. In the third part of the book, they address different concerns related to discernment, making time to read, and enriching one’s spiritual life through literature.

Recovering the Lost Art of Reading: A Quest for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful is full of wonderful advice for Christians who want to develop a deeper appreciation of literature. The authors filter everything through their worldview in a natural, seamless way, drawing on biblical truths and literary perspectives to support their various points. They also address specific concerns for Christian audiences, defending the value of leisure, providing perspectives on content discernment, addressing the pitfalls and value of Christian fiction, and emphasizing the importance of reading Scripture and having a deep moral vision for life. However, someone who does not share the authors’ faith could also benefit from this book. As long as they are comfortable with a deeply faith-based approach, non-Christian readers can benefit from the authors’ advice for understanding different literary forms, cultivating a reading life, and developing a deeper taste and appreciation for truly good books.

The writing is clear and articulate, with lots of concrete and personal examples, and the authors do not fall into vague phrasing or overly academic language. However, the book’s structure, tone, and seriousness befit a reading for an English literature course, and someone who does not read much is unlikely to make it through this book. Committed readers will find this encouraging and helpful, but I’m not sure that this book can reach part of its intended audience. People who rarely pick up a book will find this intimidating, and will only get through the book if they are very determined. I don’t think that the authors should have sacrificed the book’s depth, range, and wisdom to appeal to a more passive, less interested audience, but this is primarily for committed readers and use in Christian classrooms.

four-half-stars