Lit! Let Tony Reinke Help You Read

I love books. I love literature. I’m really grateful for the way the Lord has used books in my own life, and I’m really confident that those who deal in words, people who preach and teach, have much to gain from the best put thoughts of the clearest thinkers the world has known. Add to these realities my deep appreciation for Tony Reinke, and it’s not hard to guess that I’m pre-disposed to be really excited about his new book, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books.

Predisposed to like it, and having read it, I’m thrilled to commend it. Walt Harrington says this about the reading habits of George W. Bush:

“I was struck by his many references to history. In the back of my mind was an article that Karl Rove had written for The Wall Street Journal in 2008, which revealed (much to the consternation of the president’s derisive critics) that Bush had read 186 books for pleasure in the preceding three years, consisting mostly of serious historical nonfiction.”

“He also invited me to his house, where I found books by John Fowles, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gore Vidal lying about, as well as biographies of Willa Cather and Queen Victoria. A few years later, I might even have thought they had been purposely left there for the eyes of a reporter, but not on that unstaged evening. Laura would eventually write that even then, George read every night in bed.”

“I also found an open Bible in the house. “I’ve read it cover to cover, and it wouldn’t hurt you, Walt, to do the same,” Bush said, laughing. Within the last year, W. had begun a new lifetime regimen of daily Bible readings, as I and all of America would later learn.”””He certainly enjoys reading and talking about books. And his friends know it. On his desk is a stack of books that have come as gifts: All Things Are Possible Through Prayer;Basho: The Complete Haiku;Children of Jihad; and Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. To the pile, I add my own gift, Cleopatra by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Stacy Schiff. Right now, Bush is reading Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life, a biography of the first president. “Chernow’s a great historian,” Bush says excitedly. “I think one of the great history books I read was on Alexander Hamilton by Chernow. But I also read House of Morgan,Titan, and now I’m reading Washington.””

“He mentions David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter, a book about the Korean War that he read before a visit last year to Korea, to give a speech to evangelicals. “I stand up in front of 65,000 Christians to give a speech in South Korea … ,” he says, “and I’m thinking about the bloody [battles] fought in the Korean War.” Halberstam’s book—coupled with earlier readings of David McCullough’s Truman and Robert Beisner’s Dean Acheson, a biography of Truman’s secretary of state presented to him by Bush’s own secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice—gave the event deeper resonance. The decisions of the unpopular President Harry S Truman, he realized, made it possible for a former U. S. president to speak before freely worshipping Koreans 60 years later. “So history, in this case, gave me a better understanding of the moment, and … put it all into context—the wonder of the moment.””

“I tick off a partial list of people Bush has read books about in recent years in addition to Washington, Truman, and Acheson: Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Huey Long, Lyndon Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ulysses S. Grant, John Quincy Adams, Genghis Khan.”

““Genghis Khan?” I ask incredulously.”

““I didn’t know much about him. I was fascinated by him. I guess I’ve always been fascinated by larger-than-life figures. That’s why I’m looking forward to reading Cleopatra. I know nothing about her. … But you can sit there and be absorbed by TV, let the news of the moment consume you. You can just do nothing. I choose to read as a form of relaxation. … Laura used to say, ‘Reading is taking a journey,’ and she’s right.””

“He remembers Richard Carwardine’s Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power (one of 14 Lincoln biographies Bush read while he was president), . . .”

And this is just a sampling. There’s more about the reading Bush has done. Fascinating. Inspiring.

Do you want to read more?

Tony can tell you how to get it done. You won’t regret learning from him, and you won’t regret getting this book.

2 Responses to Lit! Let Tony Reinke Help You Read

  1. Charles September 28, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    I’m a big fan of Alan Jacobs, very thoughtful guy who approaches literature from a theological perspective.

  2. Jeremy Caskey September 28, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    I’ve already bought two copies of Lit! (one for me, one for my dad). I can personally vouch for his character and tenacious and puritanical reading ability – we went to church together in Omaha. He would get up every morning at 4 a.m. to read for three hours before he got ready for work. The book’s been good so far.

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