My towering bedside reading
I read a lot. Sometimes I even get to write about what I read. And since I think that reading has become both more commonplace (we always have our phones out when we have 2.5 seconds of free mental space), it's also become harder to read slowly, well, and with intention.
Never fear! There's a book about that! C. Chris Smith, the editor for Englewood Review of Books, wrote a book called Reading for the Common Good. Do you wonder how reading really can change the world? Does it feel inconsequential or escapist to pick up a book these days? How might reading affect our neighborhoods and churches?
This isn't about a cheesy Christian book club. This is a book that is about reorienting ourselves as a community, towards the flourishing of our neighborhoods and we can do it in small, daily, routines -- like reading. Take a look at my review over at The Well. It's geared for Christian women academics -- so as a #MamaPhD, I have a lot in common with that audience -- and yet, it's a great book to pick up no matter your vocation.
Here's a snippet:
Books were always my first love. As an only child, I spent my childhood wrapped in novels with the sounds of Disney’s Electric Parade on the background. It seemed only natural that my love for reading catapulted me into studying English as an undergraduate and then on to a master’s and Ph.D in literature. In all the focus on theory and dissecting novels like biology experiments, it became easy to think that reading would always (and only) serve a particular end. Pleasure and learning were subsumed into how a book was useful, how it perpetuated ideological categories. I wish I had had C. Christopher Smith’s new book, Reading for the Common Good
, in those heady graduate school years as a gentle guide to reading for others.
Smith’s book, Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish
, is the practical outworking of the Editor of The Englewood Review of Books
’ previous co-authored book, Slow Church
. Where Slow Church
left off — advocating a return to incarnational living in church community rather than the McDonaldization of attractional churches — Reading for the Common Good
continues. In it, Smith centers the local church; he writes: “For disciples of Jesus, our first and primary vocation is to follow in the way of Jesus as part of a church community.” How do individuals living their vocation within the context of their churches and communities begin to flourish? How do we slow down, invite conversation, and practice ethical, intentional discipleship? How do we learn to love the places where God has put us? Smith argues that reading buttresses the common good.
In many ways it seems ludicrous that the idea of reading is a revolutionary and transformative act. Isn’t it too basic for that? For most women in the academy, reading has been part and parcel of a way of life, simply the water we swim in.
Read more at The Well!
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