Category Archives: Reading


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.






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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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.


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.