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Recovering the Lost Art of Reading: A Quest for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful



In today’s technology-driven culture, reading has become a lost art. With smartphones offering information at the tap of a finger, reading a book is often seen as a tedious and outdated activity. Christians are not immune to this problem, as many Christians find it hard to read books—even the Bible—consistently and attentively. Recovering the Lost Art of Reading addresses these timely issues by exploring the importance of reading generally as well as studying the Bible as literature, giving practical suggestions along the way. In this helpful guide, Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes encourage a new generation of readers to overcome the notion of reading as a duty and learn to see it as a delight.

This is a Logos Reader Edition. Learn more.

Resource Experts
  • Offers a detailed analysis of how reading impacts the Christian life
  • Examines different types of reading and provides tips for engaging them
  • Addresses common questions
  • Introduction: Welcome to the Conversation

Reading Is a Lost Art

  • Is Reading Lost?
  • What Have We Lost?
  • Why Consider Reading an Art?

Reading Literature

  • What Is Literature?
  • Why Does Literature Matter?
  • What Does Literature Offer?
  • Reading Stories: Tell Me a Story
  • Reading Poems: Songs of the Soul
  • Reading Novels: Come Away with Me
  • Reading Fantasy: A Far Journey
  • Reading Children’s Books: Once Upon a Time
  • Reading Creative Nonfiction: To Tell the Truth
  • Reading the Bible as Literature: Words of Delight

Recovering the Art of Reading

  • Recovery through Discovery
  • Truth in Literature
  • The Moral Vision in Literature
  • Beauty in Literature
  • Discovering Literary Excellence
  • Freedom to Read
  • Reading Good Books
  • Calling and Creativity
  • Literature and the Spiritual Life: Over and Above

In the Logos Reader Edition, this volume is enhanced to best fit the content. Scripture references are hand-tagged to integrate with powerful functionality in Logos Bible Software. Page milestones and internal citation tagging provide accurate points of reference. Search important words across resources to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive tools for reading digital content are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) served as professor of English at Wheaton College for nearly 50 years. He has authored or edited over fifty books, including The Word of God in English and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible. He is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Theological Society’s annual meetings and served as literary stylist for the English Standard Version Bible.

Glenda Faye Mathes (BLS, University of Iowa) is a professional writer with a passion for literary excellence. She has authored over a thousand articles and several nonfiction books as well as the Matthew in the Middle fiction series. Glenda has been the featured speaker at women’s conferences and at seminars for prison inmates. She lives near Leland’s hometown of Pella, Iowa.


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  1. Jeromy Blomquist
    I have Tourettes syndrome. As a 29-year-old, it doesn't really affect me in the same way it did as a child. However, it took its toll on me. I had a variety of ticks. (I know you are thinking it, no, I never cussed anyone out). One tick worth noting was a terrible blink. I would blink so hard, so long, and so often that I would lose my place reading. I would re-read a page a dozen times before giving up. I was in a special reading class for children who struggled to read. My mom would have to read my homework because I couldn’t make it through the assignment in time for class the next day. Because of this, I hated reading. Video games, movies, and various other forms of entertainment were my preference. In Recovering the Lost Art of Reading, Ryken and Mathes state that most adults have 24-hour access to information. But on average, no one spends more than an hour a day reading literature. Contrast that with the average 5.9 hours a day spent looking at a digital screen. Along with brain changes, Ryken and Mathes survey massive losses that come from the decline of reading. Including a lack of meaningful leisure, self-transcendence, beauty, essential human experience, edification, and an enlarged vision of the world and life. "Too many people drift aimlessly in a rowboat without oars when they could be sailing on a fully-equipped cruise ship, feasting on delicious food, visiting fascinating ports of call, lounging on white beaches, and diving into an amazing underwater world. Sadly, they may not even realize what they're missing" (37). Drifting aimlessly. That was me just out of high school. I had big thoughts of myself, my uninformed opinion, and small thoughts of the world. But then when the Lord gripped my heart, the hatred of words was transformed and replaced by a love for His Word. From there a passion to know God through the study of theology began and continued to evolve. At this time, I read only for information and to know God. I used to scoff at the idea of reading a novel. Not to mention my reading speed was that of a three-legged turtle. Why would I waste 20 hours reading for entertainment when I could watch a movie in two hours? Well after my wife and I read a great novel together for date night and picking up this book, this too has begun to change. This book has cultivated an appreciation of literature as art. I now see how important literature is not only for the mind but also the soul. I love reading. Looking back, I am reminded again of the goodness and graciousness of God.