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Reading Between the Lines

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  293 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Here is a guidebook for those who want to learn how to recognize books that are spiritually and aesthetically good–to cultivate good literary taste. Gene Edward Veith presents basic information to help book lovers understand what they read–from the classics to the bestsellers. He explains how the major genres of literature communicate. He explores ways comedy, tragedy, rea ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 15th 1990 by Crossway Books
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Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is about books, yet is itself a great read. It will also serve as a practical reference, since it contains sections on different styles and periods of literature. Dr. Veith presents a scholarly, balanced introduction to literature for Christians. Note that this is significantly different from merely talking about "Christian books." A book on that topic would have become dated quickly, but this book deals with classics of literature and urges Christians to read these as a heritage of re ...more
Abby Jones
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully helpful book of you're interested in delving deeper into the different types of literature in their historical and philosophical context. I think this would be excellent for any high schoolers to work through, and it's a good addition to any home our classroom.
I did find a minor disagreement with him on Dungeons and Dragons in the fantasy part. He dealt with it from Chick Tract perspective and not from a reality perspective. I also disagreed with his opening thesis of the
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, philosophy
This is a very interesting book by a very interesting author. At first glance it looks like another book that is intent on reinforcing the "Christian ghetto" but even a cursory reading or a knowledge of the author would prove the book to be much more interesting. It is mainly an overview of literature from the perspective of a Christian thinker. This includes the dominant cultural philosophies that birth literature, genres of writing and their historical beginnings and significance, as well as s ...more
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wish goodreads allowed for half stars because I would give this book 4.5 stars. This was another fantastic book by Veith. He is one of my favorite writers. I can't read enough enough from him or Michael Horton. This particular Veith book was really helpful for me as my own education regarding literature, how to read and understand it, is quite limited. I learned so much from this book I wish I could take a semester or two from Veith who is a professor of literature at Patrick Henry College. I ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable read! I especially valued Mr. Veith's thorough coverage of historical/literary periods as well as Christian authors' responses to their cultures through these eras. Although not a book on apologetics, Reading Between The Lines gave me ammunition against many of popular culture's attacks on the inspiration of Scripture. Finally, I marveled at the author's discussion of the centrality of words to the Christian faith, in which even our God is called "the Word."
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-for-school
This book should not be read in college. This should be read by a High School Freshman. I had to read this for a class my Sophomore year in college, and I knew most of it already.
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ironically enough, I am not "reading" this book--I am listening to it on Audible while at work. The narrator speaks clearly and not too fast; I had no trouble following the material while working simultaneously (unlike the narrator for the Audible edition of Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death--a work Veith interacts with--who was flying at what seemed to be 100 WPM; I reported this issue and received a refund and a complementary $20 credit from Audible).


The author argues that many pra
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am so happy to have finally read this book, that had been sitting on my shelf for years. Professor Veith does an excellent job of explaining the major literary genres and how each communicates to readers. He also encourages Christians to read a wide variety of classic, modern, and contemporary writers.

I really appreciated the way he brought up the fact that Christian revelation is centered around a Book - the Bible, and that God chose to reveal Himself to mankind through His Word. Christians
Deanne Smith
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book to be slowly digested.
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a great book; Veith’s purpose, from the preface: “My purpose is to promote critical reading, the habit of reading with discernment and an awareness of larger contexts and deeper implications….It’s method is to draw lines—distinguishing between words and images, the Greek and the Hebraic, the Modern and the Postmodern—and to show how Christianity intersects with them all.”
Veith accomplishes his purpose through his examination of the different genres of literature, and along the way, he r
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Must Read for People Who Love Books

Reading and the ability to read with discernment are probably the most important things an educated person and a Christian can do. Reading allows us to enter other worlds and learn about cultures and historical times we have no chance of visiting. However, reading should be done with selectivity and understanding.

Veith presents a comprehensive view of the forms and history of literature, in a small easily readable book. He discusses nonfiction, fiction, and
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book discusses not only why it is imperative that we learn to read but also suggests it is just as important to learn "how" to read and interpret good from bad literature. Do we know what makes a good comedy or tragedy?
One could argue that there is no bad literature, just like those that argue that there is no bad is in the eye of the beholder-types. However, at the risk of sounding arrogant, in my opinion there is such a thing as bad literature (and bad art), even to the poin
Logan Judy
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't give five-star reviews very much, but this book is very deserving of it. An absolute, non-negotiable must-read for any Christian who cares about literature. Veith does a phenomenal job of giving us a measured, thoughtful, and balanced approach to literature from the Christian perspective, outlining the philosophical and cultural trends that have influenced literature, but also highlighting the positive things that come from each of those movements, and showing how Christians can embrace ...more
Still relevant. Though published many moons ago, the information and message has much to offer the reader. The author does a tremendous job at giving the reader a meta narrative of all major writing styles. He does a wonderful job with recommendations, general literary analyses of major works of literature, and worldview analyses behind the movements of literary eras. And finally, his critiques throughout poignantly convey important thoughts for all to reflect upon.

It's definitely a primer on li
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Veith shows the importance of Christians being readers of literature and provides a good jumping off point. He urges critical reading, giving brief instructions on how to read different genres.

My favorite takeaway from the book is from his chapter on the various forms of poetry from around the world and how the beauty is largely lost when translated into other languages. Hebrew poetry is unique, though, in how its characteristics (parallelism, chiasms, etc.) can be fully translated into other l
Philip Christman
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Veith has written a literature textbook for people who are not taking a course in literature, but who might do so if faced with the opportunity. More, he has written it for Christians, not only defining iambic pentameter, but explaining why Christians, of all people, should be interested in it. Proclaiming us to be "people of the book" he challenges us to be people of GOOD books of all kinds.
John Wise
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to John by: Rusten
An excellent resource for learning to enjoy literature. A gift from @Rusten. Thanks, Rusten!

Favorite quote: "The habit of reading is absolutely critical today...When we read, we cultivate a sustained attention span, an active imagination, a capacity for logical analysis and critical thinking, and a rich inner life. Each of these qualities, which have proven themselves essential to a free people, is under assault in our TV-dominated culture" (xiv).
Fabulous. Highly recommend. I came away from this with a greater appreciation of literature in general and poetry in particular. Literature students and anybody slightly interested in literature should read this before reading anything else. Clear and well-written as well as enjoyable. My reading list just tripled.
Bryana Johnson
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent primer for Christians embarking on the adventure of exploring great literature. Veith illuminates the murky and confusing panorama of Western literary history in a concise and readable style. Chances are you’ll come away from this volume freshly inspired to read more and read better books.
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
An Important Book. I assigned it to my girls in high school. I've been known to hand copies of the chapter entitled "Vicarious Experience and Vicarious Sin: The Importance of Criticism" to high school students at church. If you ever find yourself teaching literature to anybody older than 12, keep a copy handy.
Emily Polson
At one point, Veith quotes C. S. Lewis, concerning modern books: “Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already” (152). Ironically enough, that statement perfectly describes my experience with this book.
Mike  Tannian
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: never-finished
I really liked this book and think that Veith makes some excellent points about what constitutes good literature, but due to my classload this semester, I will be unable to finish it.
Emily Nealy
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Made me realize how much reading I need to do!! There are so many excellent works of literature suggested! I gotta get started!
Douglas Wilson
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-study
Very good.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great book! I learned a lot--and keep learning when I open it up and read some of the many lines I highlighted the first time around.
Eric Wallace
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I would have had this book in high school. I would have gotten so much more out of literature.
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The best book on literature from a Christian perspective.
Jason Farley
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very helpful. Great high school text. the chapters on poetry, o'conner, and Herbert were the excellent.
ci chong
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Insightful and very helpful read for Christians who love reading and are studying literature, from someone who not only knows this field but loves reading as well.
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Please use this as a reference book...hard to read cover to cover but good reference.
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Gene Edward Veith Jr., is the Culture Editor of WORLD MAGAZINE. He was formerly Professor of English at Concordia University Wisconsin, where he has also served as Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. He is the author of numerous books, including Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture, The Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals, and God ...more
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“Modern Christians should not mistake our post-Victorian sense of propriety for moral purity.” 1 likes
“The Sermon on the Mount proves that sin is a condition of our inmost being; although our sinful nature is atoned for in the cross and our failures freely forgiven, we must never willingly cultivate habits that Scripture condemns.” 1 likes
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