On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior

On Reading Well

Reading great literature well has the power to cultivate virtue. Great literature increases knowledge of and desire for the good life by showing readers what virtue looks like and where vice leads. It is not just what one reads but how one reads that cultivates virtue. Reading good literature well requires one to practice numerous virtues, such as patience, diligence, and prudence. And learning to judge wisely a character in a book, in turn, form...

Details On Reading Well

TitleOn Reading Well
Release DateSep 4th, 2018
PublisherBrazos Press
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Books About Books, Education, Christian, Literature, Language

Reviews On Reading Well

  • Cindy Rollins
    I knew I would like this book but I was not prepared to truly love it as I did. It was truly a delightful stroll through many past reads. I decided after the first chapter to slow way down and not rush through this one. When I got to the next to the last chapter I realized it was about a story by George Saunders which I had not read. Since it was a short story, I downloaded the book immediately and read the story The Tenth of December. I am very ...
  • Laura
    Review originally appeared at Servants of Grace.Only four pages in to Karen Swallow Prior’s masterpiece On Reading Well, I knew I was in trouble. I love reading in lots of genres, but books about the act of reading are my weakness. I love them. I’ve already read Prior’s first book, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and immediately wanted to be friends with her. I got a big kick out of reading The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distrac...
  • Bob
    Summary: Makes a case that the reading of great literature may help us live well through cultivating the desire in us to live virtuously and to understand why we are doing so.Karen Swallow Prior wants us to heed John Milton's advice to "read promiscuously" great works of literature because they may help the reader distinguish between vice and virtue, and hopefully choose the latter. In doing so, Prior advances an argument contrary to most of cont...
  • Jay
    In her introduction to her latest book, On Reading Well (Brazos Press, 2018), Karen Swallow Prior writes: “Reading well adds to our life . . . in the same way a friendship adds to our life, changing it forever.” Just as we cultivate our circle of friends and acquaintances (with an unfriend, unfollow, block, or mute), so too ought we to cultivate that other great shaper of character: our reading list, known to many as the TBR.In an age when ou...
  • Michele Morin
    As a child, reading was my oasis, but it was not until I grew up, finished college, got married, and started reading aloud to a brood of boys that I began to realize it was not enough simply to read widely. I wanted to read well. In On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books, Karen Swallow Prior offers the insight that to read well, “one must read virtuously.” (15) One does this by reading closely, resisting the urge to skim, ...
  • Samuel James
    On the one hand are rote worldview tests that strip stories and art down to their "good vs bad" parts. On the other hand is a cottage industry of "engaging culture" that usually translates into consuming whatever we like indiscriminately and calling it a Christian exercise. What I love most about this book is how Prior offers a roadmap for something better: Truly seeing reality along the light beams of great books with the aim of attaining Christ...
  • Kerstin
    "All literature - stories most obviously - centers on some conflict, rupture or lack. Literature is birthed from our fallenness: without the fall, there would be no story."This book is gem. We live in a utilitarian, functional, and secularized culture, and it is no surprise that when we look at literature, probe its meanings, we look for plot, theme, character, and the like. Yet we forget an important aspect, to look for what is edifying, for wha...
  • Nathaniel Martin
    I honestly can’t give you a good reason not to read this book.
  • Justin
    [Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reading Copy from the publisher, but no other remuneration for a review in any manner] We’ve grown used to quick reads, a couple of swipes up with our finger and we are ready to move on to the next thing. We read for information or for distraction. We’ve taken to speed reading, to listening to audiobooks at double speed, to reading summaries online, in lieu of reading well. Reading slowly has come to be seen...
  • Lori
    Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior discusses twelve literary works in light of Christian virtues portrayed in each. She utilizes other literature, theological and Biblical studies works, philosophy, and classics to reach her conclusions. The work is divided into sections for the cardinal virtues, theological virtues, and heavenly virtues. Contents include:Prudence: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry FieldingTemperance: T...
  • Benjamin Messina
    Quite possibly my favorite book I’ve read this year.
  • Tina
    Each chapter gives an in-depth study of a different book that illustrates a virtue, which was interesting if I liked the book, but not if I didn't!
  • Ned Bustard
    This was an excellent book—it had great insights into classic works of literature and inspired me to want to read several great books that I have never gotten around to picking up. And, of course, I like the artwork on the cover and at the opening of each chapter...
  • George P.
    For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. My father was a pastor and my mother was a teacher, so there were always books around the house — preeminently the Bible, but also works of fiction and nonfiction. I never caught flak for reading as such, but my mom would sometimes look askance at me when I told her I was reading fiction.Fiction is weird. Pablo Picasso wrote, “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us re...
  • Jim
    "But it is not enough to read widely. One must also read well. One must read virtuously."Forty years ago, this undergraduate English major was introduced to the book The Universe Next Door by the late Dr James W Sire. As I read it, I was made aware of the competing worldviews of the day, most of which have become a greater part of the American cultural and religious scene in the past four decades. I thought of Sire's book as I read Dr Karen Swall...
  • Amy
    The introduction to this book is worth the purchase price. I finally understand what the word "aesthetics" means...even though it is often thrown around with the assumption that people know what it is (I mean, where was I supposed to learn that?). And that's the great thing about Karen Swallow Prior's writing: it's accessible and instructional at the same time. You're going to wish she was your English teacher, but just reading this book will giv...
  • Seth Woodley
    I really enjoyed this book. The variety of great works and virtues examined provides freshness with each chapter. The introduction is well worth the price of the whole book on its own. In addition, there are great thoughts on virtues and works of literature, and I will likely benefit from revisiting some of these chapters in the future. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on faith (Silence), hope (The Road), and diligence (The Pilgrim's Progress)...
  • Jan
    Dec 3, 2018 3 to 3.5 stars (I think, I'm finding it hard to rate). Loved parts (and especially liked the introduction & chapters on Jane Austen, Pilgrim's Progress, and Flannery O'Connor), but other parts fell flat for me and didn't persuade me to read the book she was discussing. Except possibly George Saunders. Even though I've heard others rave about Lincoln in the Bardo it never interested me. KSP's discussion of his short story The Tenth of ...
  • Clara
    "But it is not enough to read widely. One must also read well. One must read virtuously".This book is a thesis on why reading goes beyond entertainment, but feeding the soul.Of course literature review book might seem an obvious choice for a bookworm, but it's not. To pic up a book of someone who actually understand the art that is writing and reading is refreshing, as if, paraphrasing C.S Lewis, a friendship can be formed because you come to tha...
  • Amanda
    An excellent discussion on virtue. The virtues all interact and support one another. Reading novels as a way to grow in virtue is a wonderful prospect. Does it work for every novel? Do we need to be mindful readers for it to work? I usually miss a lot of those types of things when I read, but perhaps it is still the essence distilled from the story that does stay with me. Either way, Karen Swallow Prior has crafted a lovely, beautiful book.
  • Melissa
    I bought this book because Karen Swallow Prior is a superior author and thinker on topics I’m seriously devoted to: reading, literature, and how reading and literature inform and enrich the Christian’s life. Prior’s chapters on The Great Gatsby, Ethan Frome, and Flannery O’Connor’s short stories are three important reasons I bought this book. Those chapters alone were worth it to me because I teach those authors every year in my classro...
  • Calley
    If you love literature and want to experience the searching out of many great novels through the lens of a Scriptural worldview, this is a fabulous book. It's convicting and reaches into so many avenues that lack attention and value in today's world of quick quips and 140 character limits.Fellow Christians, for your imagination's sake, please read this.
  • Shemaiah
    Just finished. Thank you @KSPrior ! I am truly convicted by this book and endeavor to both read well and live well. Thank you for raising the bar on both.
  • Dustin
    Great read. I will be adding some of the books she writes about to my reading list.
  • Dorothy Greco
    Karen Swallow Prior is one of the preeminent thinkers and writers of our time. Her wit, wisdom, and insight always make for a good read. In her third book, Prior chooses 12 literature classics (including The Great Gatsby, Pilgrim’s Progress, and A Tale of Two Cities) and mines them for the virtues that they embody. Swallow Prior has an amazing ability to pull deep truths out of a text and then offer them back to her readers as invitations to g...
  • Emily Schultz
    I think this is my favorite of all of the books I read in 2018. On Reading Well shows the reader how to find virtue in fiction works. You can read my full review here: https://wp.me/p9XsVt-uI was provided with an advanced electronic copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
  • Joanna
    Insightful in her close readings but also in her definitions of the virtues, many of which took me by surprise (patience is enduring suffering well). I’ll think through the character of characters differently now.
  • ArynTheLibraryan
    This book describes exactly how I read books. I had so much fun seeing someone be able to clearly explain how we can read fiction and experience, practice and grow! Seeing and recognizing virtues and morals as we read, helps to prepare us to handle situations of life better.I will admit that it felt like it was written for NONFICTION readers, to help them understand the way fiction readers read and understand / learn, with lots of examples. So in...