Category Archives: Reading

WHAT MAKES A GREAT BOOK?

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.

ACTIVE READING

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.

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BEST PLACE TO BUILD A LIBRARY?

ANSWER: AT A LIBRARY!

Libraries are a treasure for many reasons, not the least of which are great sales.  Our first purchase at a library occurred in Menlo Park, California during the 1980s.  We bought a nineteenth century edition of The Saints’ Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter.  It cost 50 cents!  Sure, it was a bit beat up, but such a deal.

Since then, I’ve always tried to visit libraries, especially when I’m traveling.  The picture below shows five great books I recently bought in Florida for $1 each.  All are unmarked and ready for my own system of note taking.

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PRINCETON LOG #2: WHAT WE’RE STUDYING (AND A NOTE ON PURGATORY)

Yesterday, we posted a picture outside of Payne Hall.  Here is our living room:

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Here is the huge balcony we share with one other apartment:

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Princeton is a walking town, so we (gladly) do lots of it everyday.  A few pictures of our walk with a couple of the University which is right across the street from the quaint town.

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Some spots along our daily walk to the library:

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You may have heard me mock pastors who say they are “married to the most beautiful woman in the world.”  I like to jest that she must be getting very tired.  Well, I think it is fair to say that the day the following picture was shot I could safely say I was married to the most beautiful woman in the library.

Doreen had no idea I was taking a picture, but now she will be on to me.  She is doing research on Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan.  As many of you know, her first book covers the marriage of Jonathan and Sarah, along with the Whitefields and Wesleys.  I happy to say that the Princeton library carries her book along with two of mine.

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The burial place of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards.  Also, the graveyard for John Witherspoon, Aaron Burr, and many more.

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My spot in the library:

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I am finishing up a thirty-five year study of how to trust God in the midst of suffering.  One of my final reads is Ralph Wood’s utterly amazing book on Flannery O’Connor.  At my current pace, this 280 page book will have over 500 marginal notes.  It is one of the most insightful and beautifully written books I’ve ever read.  If you choose to read it, go very slow and bring out your pen!

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Protestants don’t tend to believe in Purgatory.  I have joked that looking at someone’s photos of their family vacation can feel like Purgatory exists.  Hopefully, you will find this log more celestial in nature.

PRINCETON LOG #1: GETTING THERE

Packed and ready to go:

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Dinner (and spent the night) with wonderful friends, Bill and Helen.  A great restaurant Bill and Helen introduced us to:

Breakfast in Dallas with our oldest son, David, who works for Deloitte:
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Driving over the Mississippi River:
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Feeling peace because our dog, Dexter, is in the terrific hands of our friends, Bill and Diana.  Note well his Napoleon complex!
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Spent night in Knoxville with Doreen’s sister and brother-in-law.  Met a new family member.  He cried right after this picture was taken.  It had nothing to do with my skills, but everything to do because the little guy was hungry.  That’s my story…
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Stopped at Wayside Inn in Middletown Virginia.  We stayed here twenty-five years ago when Doreen was pregnant with David.
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Asymmetrical is critical when Doreen drives:
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Arrived in Princeton.  Our place is the second floor with balcony.  Surrounded by history and beauty on every corner.
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Coming up next: What we are researching and writing.

TOP READS OF 2015

The following books were my favorites of the past year.  There were some classics (more need to be read this year!) I read like Beowulf and The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, but I do not include them here. 

This list not mean they were published in 2015, though some of them were.  I was able to do interviews with most of these writers.  For those, you can head to my Amazon book review/interview page:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/AD6JNQ8EPWHGM/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp

A Wilderness of Mirrors by Mark Meynell

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm

Acedia and its Discontents by R.J. Snell

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte

A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight

The Erosion of Biblical Certainty by Michael Lee

The War that Forged a Nation by James McPherson

From Nature to Creation by Norman Wirzba

Melville: His World and Work by Andrew Delbanco

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY MEDITATION/BIBLE STUDY IN PICTURES

My favorite way to meditate/study the Bible is simple.

Read and reflect several times on the particular book of the Bible.

Take out a legal pad. 

Grab a cool pen.

Bombard the text with questions, connections, musings, etc.

Put my most significant thoughts in my two study Bibles.  One for each one of my sons when I kick the proverbial bucket.

Meditate throughout the day on at least one overall lesson.  Possibly meditate and then commit to memory a verse or two.

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