Category Archives: Reading


Image result for history study
I read quite a bit of history which puts me in touch with lots of dead people. 
It struck me that those who don’t read history, but mainly surf the Net or watch TV for the latest “news” of the day, are not confronted enough with important truths like one’s mortality.  Everyone for the most part they come in contact is alive.  It’s a big disadvantage to be mostly in touch with living people. 


Answer: Read poetry!

From Philip Yancey:

“I find that poetry helps. You can’t zoom through poetry; it forces you to slow down, think, concentrate, relish words and phrases. I now try to begin each day with a selection from George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, or R. S. Thomas.”

The rest is below (HT: Thomas Kidd’s email letter)

Reading Wars



I came up with “Moore’s Law of Literature” about a year ago.

It is quite simple, and so far, always accurate.

Here’s how it works.  I take the total number of pages a book has, so in the case of The Last Days of Socrates by Plato, we have 183.  I divide this by 2 so 91.5.  If the total of my marginal notes exceeds 91.5 then it is a formative book.  In the case of The Last Days of Socrates I made 102 marginal notes. 

Fortunately, even the modern books I’ve read this past year have all passed the test.  If I went back over a lifetime of reading there would be many books that would not.

Image result for the last days of socrates by hugh tredennick


It’s no secret that reading is good for you. Just six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress by 68%, and numerous studies have shown that reading keeps your brain functioning effectively as you age. One study even found that elderly individuals who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their peers.

The rest is here:

HT: Jesus Creed/Scot McKnight


For me, the answer has come from a simple mathematical equation.  I take the total number of pages in a book and divide by two.  If my total marginal notes exceeds that number then most likely the book was invaluable to read. 

This does not mean, of course, that I agree with everything in the book.  It does mean the book provoked much fruitful interaction.

The photo above is my copy of the terrific, Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South by Ralph Woods.


I regularly get asked to recommend books which is a privilege and delight.  Less frequently, I am asked what process/strategies I use for reading.  When I do, I mention the following.  Books are not created equally so lesser lights don’t get the following treatment, but many do.

Here is my copy of the wonderful Melville: His World and Work by Andrew Delbanco.  I am very interested in the challenges to the Christian faith that arose in the nineteenth century America. 

For years, I’ve used a red pencil to highlight and either a black pen or pencil for marginal notes.  I don’t always make an index as in the second photo, but it is not uncommon.