Monday, April 16, 2012

why I read novels (what I'm reading: Tony Reinke's Lit!)

I put myself to bed with a novel every night. I borrow a stack from the library, and work through them one at a time. I always have a novel on the go. Some are worthy, old or modern classics; but mostly they are just for fun.

Sometimes Christians feel guilty about reading novels. Sometimes they should, if the novel encourages unhelpful fantasies, glorifies unbelief or leads them into sin. But there's also a (wonderful, glorious) place for reading novels in the Christian life.

The last of Tony Reinke's six categories for reading is reading for fun. He says,
Christians should not blush when they read for pleasure, for escape, or ‘just for fun’. Provided that this is not a form of escapism – and assuming the book does not glorify sin – the practice is enjoyable and honors God.

Truly, many Christians today measure their reading success with nothing more than a purely utilitarian gauge, either by how many book pages they can burn through, or by the amount of information they expose themselves to in the process. Too often we fail to read simply for pleasure.

...Reading for pleasure does not mean we cannot be educated at the same time. Robert Frost once said that a good poem begins by delighting the reader and ends by bringing wisdom and clarity to the reader’s life. That’s a great way of saying it. …Good literature instructs the reader as it delights the reader, because thoughtful readers are ‘putting together what should never be split – excitement and knowledge, joy and truth, ecstasy and value’.

So sometimes I read just for pleasure. But it’s not an easy pleasure...

Reading is a difficult pleasure because it requires discipline, diligence, and focus. But like in any pleasure, it is a pleasure that can be done for God’s glory.

Tony Reinke Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books page 103-04.

image is by Tololy Tutunai at flickr

5 comments:

Cathy said...

From my core, a big cheer!! I'm learning to slow down back into reading for enjoyment, so enjoyed this affirming post. Thanks Jean!! xxc

Wendy said...

I love novels too Jean. So much that sadly I sometimes have to limit my intake or nothing else would get done! Novels are my extended treat in school holidays and after a major project has been completed. And a bit throughout the year when I don't get obsessive...

And I am very much looking forward to my copy of Lit! arriving soon.

Wendy

Sarah said...

Thanks Jean. As someone who enjoys novel reading, it's great not to feel guilty about it and know that it can be done for the glory of God.

Jean said...

Thanks all!

Wendy, I too had to limit my intake once upon a time. For a few years there, I only re-read novels rather than read new ones, because I knew I couldn't put them down! But then kids came along and it was no longer possible to keep my head stuck in a book and that somehow broke me of the habit...

But I do still love novels. And you're going to love "Lit!". :)

Jean said...

Thanks all!

Wendy, I too had to limit my intake once upon a time. For a few years there, I only re-read novels rather than read new ones, because I knew I couldn't put them down! But then kids came along and it was no longer possible to keep my head stuck in a book and that somehow broke me of the habit...

But I do still love novels. And you're going to love "Lit!". :)