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Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  2,670 ratings  ·  375 reviews
Whether books are your addiction or your phobia, Lit! offers up solid advice to help you think about reading in fresh ways.

With all the practical suggestions built on a firm gospel foundation, this book will help you flourish in the essential skills necessary for a balanced reading diet of Scripture, serious works of theology, and moving devotional works, but without overl
Paperback, 202 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Crossway Books (first published September 7th 2011)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  2,670 ratings  ·  375 reviews

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Neil R. Coulter
Sep 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am not the target audience for Lit, and so my opinion of the book doesn't count for much. All throughout the book, Tony Reinke is clear that he is writing to people who don't enjoy reading books (and it strikes me that writing a book to encourage non-readers to read more books is kind of a strange idea). I, on the other hand, can never read enough books, and it's hard for me even to imagine not wanting to read all the time. The main challenge I took from Reinke's book is to spend more time med ...more
Randy Alcorn
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read many books, but seldom do I enjoy one more than I did Tony Reinke's A Christian Guide to Reading Books. Many of my greatest childhood adventures, and much of my growth after I was converted as a teenager, came through reading imagination-expanding and life-changing books. Tony's writing is thoughtful, perceptive, concise, and God-honoring. He honors biblical authority, and offers helpful guidance, while allowing for a variety of tastes. A Christian Guide to Reading Books rings true to my ...more
CJ Bowen
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
A helpful into to book-reading. I'd find this most useful to give to high schoolers just embarking on a mature reading life. Where Veith (Reading Between the Lines) focuses more on what gets read, Reinke focuses more on the activity of reading. Both are good; a book that combined their strengths, included a reading list, and avoided the imagophobia and internet-bashing would quickly displace both of them as my go to book. But for now, Reinke's book is quite serviceable.

Reading Notes:
Chapter 2:
A very broad overview, meant for a very young reader. At first I thought he meant this to be for students in high school or junior high. The first half felt very simplistic, but then the second half gives obvious advice to parents and pastors. There was nothing new in here for me, I think because I am just not the target audience.

Side bar:
Reinke makes a good point in saying that a Christian, especially a young one, should delay reading certain books because they don’t have the spiritual maturity
Douglas Wilson
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very fine book on the theology and mechanics of reading.
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I read Lit! immediately after reading Alan Jacobs's The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, and in many ways Lit! is the knock-off version of Jacobs's elegant work: fulfilling much the same purposes, but with lesser quality, especially given Reinke's facile theology of reading and inelegant writing style.

Yes, there are good suggestions in Lit! as to how to read more, much like there are in The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Some that I found especially useful were the
Megan Larson
I love to read (sometimes). I love books (too much?). I love lists of books (way too much). When maturity reigns, I love wisdom, truth, and beauty from books. Tony Reinke's Lit! is a thoughtful, helpful, challenging book about why, how, and how much a Christian should read.
It is thoughtful because, before delving into the "how-to" of being a good reader, he addresses the theology of reading for Christians. I felt these first six chapters actually could have used a bit more editing for concisenes
Adam Ross
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was very much looking forward to this book when I opened it and began reading. Perhaps it would have been better if I hadn’t. Disappointment after high hopes and expectations is much like plunging from a great height without a parachute when you’re deathly afraid of flying and there’s no pile of straw to cushion the blow when you finally hit the ground.

All that to say, I have endeavored to be as fair as possible to the book, though this difficulty is compounded by the incoherence of the argume
Ben Chapman
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I absolutely loved this book. It will be a reference to me for the rest of my years. Very well done.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tessa by: Stevie
I am not really the target audience for this book because I already love reading (and always have) and this book is geared towards the reluctant adult reader. Reinke spends a lot of time discussing why we should be reading. I still gained some insights from this book. In particular, I loved the annual reading schedule in chapter fifteen, and the focus on reading deeply rather than just widely.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book had some good things to say! A good primer on why Christians ought to read books. I was a little disappointed that he didn't mention Goodreads though ;)
- fiction can be instructional, even more so than nonfiction, given the right book.
- the goal of reading isn't just to read a lot. Read to understand.
- read to love Christ. Whatever else you're reading, always be reading the Bible too and preferably some Christian literature. These help to inform whatever else you read.
- read
Mar 27, 2012 marked it as to-read
Alissa Wilkinson's review is here, where she also reviews Alan Jacobs's The Pleasures of Reading. Video interview with JT here. ...more
Jessica Perteet
This book convicted me many times. He talks about signs of a mature reader. He talked about his main purpose for reading a book. He talked about having a theology for reading books as a Christian. He has a suggested yearly scheduled for reading great theologians that was very helpful. He finished with talking about books not being an idol or placing literature at too high a value. Great read.
Daniel Henderson
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When I read the press release about Lit! I was very excited to read the book. I read a lot of books and was excited to receive practical advice on how to read in the light of a Christian worldview, and what to read.
The first thing that I really appreciated about the book was his emphasise on scripture as ultimate. He explains that we should seek to read as much scripture to saturate our mind—to shape our worldview by scripture, not Christian books. He then shares a wonderful analogy of the bible
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
A terrific book to get you reflecting about what you read and why you read it. How does our identity in Christ transform our book choices? How does it affect our world view and our mindset while reading books with differing world views? This book also includes practical advice about how to read non-fiction and fiction, how to write in your books (gasp!), and how to share books/reading/knowledge with others! Loved the author's insights and his liberal inclusion of other author's quotes on reading ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have re-read this book at the close of each year since first reading it as it serves me in refocusing my reading priorities. With thousands of books being published annually, this book lover can easily get overwhelmed at the many wonderful opportunities before me. Reinke’s words and categories help me choose between good and best, all the whole keeping God’s glory as my main focus. I really love this book!

Original review:

If you had a goal of reading a book a week for the next fifty years of yo
Hannah Mead
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
This book is a masterpiece - seriously. It's taken me forever to get through it, not because it's hard to read, but because I keep letting it get buried in my pile of books to read. Not anymore! I finally sat down and finished it off this afternoon - and it's genius. There is so much wisdom packed into these 200 odd pages, and as a Christian reader of books, I needed this. If you are a Christian you need this - regardless of whether you are a book dragon (aka moi) or a non-bookish-creature (thos ...more
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reinke does a great job at unpacking what it means to be a reader, both as a Christian and in our increasingly digital world. As an avid reader and English major, I’ve often questioned how to prioritize what kinds of books to read or the proper place of fiction in my reading diet — and Reinke delivers!

He stresses the importance of keeping Scripture at the center. It is the only literature that is inspired, inerrant, sufficient, living, active, and the basis for our worldview. Therein, there are
Jordy Leigh
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A book about books. A reading about readings. As a book-lover from a young age, I had only ever thought of reading as leisure and never as a discipline. I now see it as both—or, as Reinke puts it, a difficult pleasure. Who would have thought that there could be strategies to becoming a better reader? Not me! But Lit! contains some definitive, actionable tips. One chapter , for example, is devoted to taking notes. I was so inspired that I began taking notes the very next chapter. You can tell whe ...more
Macy Hicks
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
According to Reinke, an efficient adult will probably be able to read only 2,600 books over 50 years - an incredibly small number given the volume of published works available. He creates a solid framework for discerning which books are worth reading and how to prioritize them. I was also struck by his emphasizing the written word over other forms of media - God communicates to us through writing, and it is through words that we are able to fully understand reality. After reading this guide, I w ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a game-changer.

I am still processing the richness of wisdom that this book contains. By the time I finished part 2, my brain had essentially melted with the explosions of possibilities going off on my mind. When Tony Reinke says 'I'm going to give you practical tips on how to love reading', he really. freaking. delivers.

The first half of this book sets you up for success as a reader. Reinke calls it 'the theology of reading': in essence, he lays a foundation upon which a Christian c
Peter Mead
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Lit! – A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke is bordering on a must read for preachers and church leaders. Years ago it was a given that leaders have to be readers, but today I wonder if we’ve not bought into the notion that leaders have to be too busy to be real readers. Headlines? Yes. Emails? Of course. Web browser? Certainly. Blogs? Staying in touch. Books? Uh, too busy, sorry.

This book is a thoroughly enjoyable pithy little promo for the right kind of reading. The first half of
Mandy J. Hoffman
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing

I never thought I would enjoy reading a book about reading as much as I just did.

About a month ago I had the opportunity to review this book and I turned it down. Then just two weeks ago I began seeing some posts on Crossways' blog about this book and it looked more and more intriguing with each post. So curiosity got the best of me and I bought the book for my Kindle and now here I sit typing my review after having just finished this great read.

Lit! is not a book about other good boo
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
I loved this book, but I have two regrets about it. My first regret is that I didn't buy it in paper, but instead read it on the Kindle. Although I did use the highlight feature, it isn't the same. This regret ties into my second regret...that I didn't read chapter 12 first. Chapter 12 is called Marginalia, all about writing in books. I have always loved to highlight and underline in my books, making the occasional note here and there, but he advocates carrying on a conversation with the author. ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Reading books about books always feels kind of indulgent, but this book by Tony Reinke is genuinely good. Given that I invest so much time in reading, and value it so highly, it really makes sense to think carefully about why I read, how I read and what I read, and "Lit" nails all those issues and more. The "theology of books and reading" in the first 6 chapters was enlightening and encouraging -- highlights being the biblical primacy of words over images, the importance of a bi ...more
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a lover of books, to say I enjoyed it is an understatement. I was instructed and challenged all throughout. In the first half Reinke gives us the theological underpinnings of reading from within a Christian worldview. And in the latter half of the book he offers some practical advice on reading, ranging from how to decide what to read to note-taking in the marginalia to reading together with others in community.
Barnabas Piper
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Reinke exhibits the kind of writing and thought that makes reading worthwhile. He is concise, clear, thoughtful, but not at all dry. He is balanced in his opinions and well-reasoned. Over-all I thought Reinke did an excellent job of bringing out the joys of reading and its value without harping on the reader or coming across as heavy handed.
Luke Miller
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reading
This will be my go-to book for people who say they don't like to read or people who say they can't find time to read. I found so many helpful ideas and perspectives. Excellent example of spreading Christian theology into the corners of your reading life. ...more
Mark Jr.
Sep 23, 2011 rated it liked it

What I have learned from about twenty-years of serious reading is this: It is sentences that change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99% of what I read, but if the 1% of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99%.3 When 1 percent of what you read is life-transformin
G. A. Dietrich
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A book on how and why to read a book? Yes, that is exactly what Tony Reinke's Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books is all about. Reinke's purpose in writing this book is to study reading from a Christian perspective (26). He does this by breaking his book into two categories, which I will explain and dissect below.

The first section is a theology of books and reading. In this section Reinke lays out the beginnings of literature with God writing with his fingertip the 10 commandements. He also
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Tony Reinke hosts the popular Ask Pastor John podcast and serves as the Communications Director for He has authored five books including *12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You* (2017). He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and their three children.

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Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
84 likes · 15 comments
“If we neglect Scripture in order to read only other books, we not only cut ourselves from the divine umbilical cord that feeds our souls, we also cut ourselves from the truth that makes it possible for us to benefit from the truth, goodness, and beauty in the books that we read.” 10 likes
“Currently, the Library of Congress houses eighteen million books. American publishers add another two hundred thousand titles to this stack each year. This means that at the current publishing rate, ten million new books will be added in the next fifty years. Add together the dusty LOC volumes with the shiny new and forthcoming books, and you get a bookshelf-warping total of twenty-eight million books available for an English reader in the next fifty years! But you can read only 2,600 - because you are a wildly ambitious book devourer. ... For every one book that you choose to read, you must ignore ten thousand other books simply because you don't have the time (or money!).” 5 likes
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