The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
Alan Jacobs (Oxford University Press), 2011

Alan Jacobs will surprise many in his audience, especially some evangelicals, when he forthrightly proclaims his "commitment to one dominant, overarching, nearly definitive principle for reading: Read at Whim." Is he serious-or rather, not serious? Absolutely. In this lucid and seductive ramble, Jacobs gives us the best entry to date in the flurry of recent attempts to augur and meditate upon the fate of reading in our time. He concludes with a modestly optimistic celebration of the "particular form of attention" that we engage in whenever we pick up a book.

Resonant Witness: Conversations between Music and Theology
edited by Jeremy S. Begbie and Steven R. Guthrie (Eerdmans)

Anything can become an occasion for argument (if you are married, you won't need me to tell you that). But certain subjects are more likely than others to provoke strong disagreement, and when you bring music and theology together, the combination is particularly combustible. Jeremy Begbie, who has done more than any other scholar to move this conversation forward, and co-editor Steven Guthrie have assembled a stellar cast of contributors. A good place to begin is the superb afterword by John Witvliet, followed by the editors' introduction. Then pick an essay at random and plunge in.

Clear And Simple As the Truth: Writing Classic Prose
Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner (Princeton University Press, 2nd edition)

About 10 years ago, a group of us here at Christianity Today read and discussed the first edition of this book to sharpen our sense of what we were doing as editors and writers. If a more useful approach to the subject has been published in the past 25 years, I'm not aware of it. In this second edition, a very good book has gotten even better. Clarity fosters productive disagreement, and careful readers will dissent on this point or that, but they will also be enriched by the exposition of "classic prose."

Related Elsewhere:

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Resonant Witness, and Clear and Simple as the Truth are available from and other retailers.

John Wilson is editor of Books & Culture, a Christianity Today sister publication.

Other Bookmarks and reviews are in our books section.

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