Booked by Karen Swallow Prior


A life of books. A life of soul. Professor Karen Swallow Prior poignantly and humorously weaves the two, until you can't tell one life from the other. Booked draws on classics like Great Expectations, delights such as Charlotte's Web, the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and more. This thoughtful, straight-up memoir will be pure pleasure for book-lovers, teachers, and anyone who has struggled to find a way to articulate the inexpressible through a lo...

Details Booked

Release DateOct 20th, 2012
PublisherT. S. Poetry Press
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Books About Books, Biography, Biography Memoir, Christian

Reviews Booked

  • Poiema
    I would love to have Karen as an English teacher. I was enriched by her thoughts on selected classics, and how she wove their themes into her own life experience. Great literature can teach us, even without the help of a professor. That was true in Karen's case, and her memoir encourages me to stay on task with my classic reading goals. I would have loved for this book to be longer: it was a breath of fresh air!
  • David Huff
    Karen Prior has written a creative and wise, and very personal, account of how literature has been woven throughout the tapestry of her life. While, on the one hand, it is very much an autobiography of her own life to date, it is also a moving and relatable story, the style of which most any of us who love reading could probably write about our own lives. The chapters of "Booked" take us through the consecutive chronology of her life, beginning w...
  • Mike Duran
    Ive never really wanted to read Jane Eyre. Until now.Jane Eyre is just one of several pieces of classic literature that Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English at Liberty University, uses to chronicle her own journey of self-discovery a journey of self-discovery through literature. In Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me, Madame Bovary, Tess of the DUrbervilles, Great Expectations, Charlottes Web, and Gullivers Travels, are more than just must...
  • Shiloah
    Intelligent, inspiring, deep, moving. I didn't know what to expect, but after such moving reviews I knew it would be good. I learned much and my eyes were opened in new and unexpected ways. My favorite chapters had to include Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Madam Bovery (especially this one), and John Donne. She had such insightful truths to share, and I feel like this is one of those books that has definitely made me think differently and see more cle...
  • Laurie
    A memoir of sorts through the literature read -- oh, so many parallels here to my own reading experiences, from writing feverishly like Harriet, "the Spy" to realizing a sense of self and convictions as depicted by Jane Eyre to our first college major and the book that influenced it to caressing the "tissue thin pages" of our college lit anthologies to living as teachers of the literature we love.These quotes resonate with me:God who spoke the wo...
  • Jeffrey Romine
    I'll call this Goodreads at its best. I hadn't known about this book. I wasn't looking for it. But, when it came up in my newsfeed I bought and read it. Why? Because I do have an interest in promoting reading itself. The title grabbed my attention, and reviews by my friends convinced me to get it. I'm still a sucker for Amazon 'also bought' but more and more I find myself adopting Goodreads suggestions as my main source.The author bares her soul ...
  • Sara
    Hmmm... more of a 3.5 or so. As an avid consumer of classic literature and former English major, I had high expectations for BOOKED. Expectations which were met, somewhat. The whole premise of building a personal memoir on the themes found in selected great books definitely worked. And the author's picks were worthy gems for the most part. Swallow Prior knows her lit, and capably conveys the tremendous impact of each book on her life.I just wasn'...
  • Claudia Lee
    Once again my Librarian-Super Reader daughter suggested this book to me. Wow! As I read it I felt like I was having coffee and talking with my 'kindred spirit'! Ms. Prior explores the way reading a book and entering into the life of the book is used of God in our spiritual formation and in the spiritual life of our kids. So good!
  • Katherine
    Blending memoir, her journey of faith, and literary essay, Karen Swallow Prior writes honestly and poignantly about her life, her passion for books and reading. And how each informs the other. Chapters focus on a single piece of literature or poetry Prior felt important or formative in her life. Her memories and insights, and the conclusions she draws, are fascinating, deeply personal and thought-provoking. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars
  • Taylor
    Having been in Dr. Prior's classroom, I often find myself amazed by her knowledge and unique perspective of literature, and this is no exception. Prior reminds us that literature is still relevant today in an excellent fashion, and I completely relate to how books have changed her life because they have changed mine. Prior is candid, honest, and witty, and her writing shows a wisdom that only experience can provide. Her unique style is captivatin...
  • Stephen Hoogerhyde
    Being a bibliophile who was an English major in college, I went into this book with high hopes. After reading it, meh.She talked more about her life than about classic literature, although she did weave both together rather skillfully. I do like the way that she framed each chapter, ending each chapter where she began it. I enjoyed the first chapter the most, where she advocates (with Milton) reading widely, reading different genres and different...
  • Amy
    _Booked_ is an exploration of some of the literary works that the author feels led her to a deeper understanding of and relationship with God. There is some lovely prose in here, especially about the various works of literature the author has chosen to describe. She is also startlingly open about her history and love life, to the point of almost being TMI. She's at her best when discussing the literature. It's almost as if there is a completely o...
  • Melissa Travis
    I enjoyed this book tremendously. Those who understand the importance of cultural apologetics will find it deeply satisfying, and it's an excellent introduction for those who are not acquainted with that dimension of "Big Questions" discussions. I don't have a lot of formal education in literary analysis, but I found this to be an easily accessible and compelling commentary on several works I've read and a couple I haven't. I'm encouraged to revi...
  • Jan
    Finished 8/3/20182/5 StarsVT 2018 Reading Challenge #29 - a book by a female authorMeh. Some of the parts where she actually talks about books were great, but a lot, if not most, of the parts where she goes on and on about herself were a real slog and I kept looking to see how many pages I had to go until the end. That is never a good sign. Maybe I expected more since so many people gave Booked really high ratings but overall it was a big disappo...
  • Cindy
    Her thoughts on her childhood favorites connected me immediately to my past because my favorites were some of hers..:. Charlottes Web and of course all of the Marguerite Henrys books.And I too have always lamented the particular poverty of children raised without pets but instead of saying it so eloquently I just felt sad for them. I also loved her chapters on poetry. I now need to read more of John Dunne !Madame Bovary has been on my reading lis...
  • Dianne Oliver
    yes! yes! yes! How grand on a Monday afternoon to come across a writer who loves literature and has lived in the same context as one. She tells truth, with openness and honesty. If devotions or bible study looked like this, I might show up...She truly can find nuggets of Biblical wisdom within the best books on our bookshelves. Her review of Areopagitica by Milton beautifully shows how truth is found-for children especially, but also as adults. N...
  • Barbara
    Karen Swallow Prior is a professor of English at Liberty University. In Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me, she shares how books taught and influenced her throughout her life.Books have formed the soul of me. I know that spiritual formation is of God, but I also knowmainly because I learned it from booksthat there are other kinds of formation, too, everyday gifts, and that God uses the things of this earth to teach us and shape us, and to help ...
  • Laura
    I don't think I've ever been so sad to turn to the last page of a book. Karen Swallow Prior packs a lot into every chapter as she weaves eloquent literary interpretation in with her own story of discovering herself. It was like taking your favorite English class with your favorite teacher.Several of the chapter featured literary works that I've already found a deep kinship with- Jane Eyre and Charlotte's Web also helped me find my own way in the ...
  • Lynn Joshua
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first chapter on Milton's Areopagitica sets the stage, encouraging us to read widely and "let truth and falsehood grapple." She says, "...the best way to counteract falsehood is not by suppressing it, but by countering it with truth. Truth is stronger than falsehood; falsehood prevails through the suppression of countering ideas, but truth triumphs in a free and open exchange that allows truth to shine."Then th...
  • icarranna
    I don't think I've ever abandoned a book 25 pages in. I usually give it a chance. I had an inkling that this English professor was going to be pretentious when I saw the book list on which she based her chapter themes (Great Expectations, Gulliver's Travels, Madame Bovary). But then she said (and I quote): "I do suspect that Milton's reaction to modern day anxieties over the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight might be along the lines of a deep, r...
  • Rachel Lail
    I picked up this book hoping to learn new perspectives on great literature - I was disappointed by the combination diary- journal-memoir-literary review. The chapters are written like essays on different works of literature, seen through the perspective of the author's life. But while Prior's literary analysis seemed strong, her stories about her own life seemed almost pedantic. And though she writes about the lessons she has learned about her ow...
  • Rebecca
    What a delight! Prior traces her spiritual life through some of her (and coincidentally mine) favorite literature. A true child of the 70's, she seems to find her way with God through literature. I found some parts of it maudlin as when she carries on about her love of animals, but she has a great way of teasing out deep spiritual sensibilities from some of my favorite books and authors: Jane Eyre, Tess, Milton, Hopkins, Donne, and Arnold. She sp...
  • RAW
    Read for book club. She is a talented writer and enjoyed her thoughts and insights on the different books she read. Very different lifestyle than the one I led and at times it feels somewhat unapologetic. You do get a sense of God's hand orchestrating her life and how her life experience of books was how he spoke to her. She wove her stories in well and chose a wide variety of books to do so, but I would have liked to see a more in depth repentan...
  • Amy
    This title was more intense, edgy and personal than many "books about books" that I have read. The author did a good job tying in the books that meant a lot to her as we followed her growing into adulthood. In some ways, this is not a light read...deeper, darker and a lot about how Prior made her faith her own. I wouldn't say I "loved" this's too serious for that, but it really made me think and I appreciated it for that. It challenged ...
  • Carmen Liffengren
    I love memoirs, but especially spiritual memoirs. This one seemed a perfect intersection of how her reading life of great books shaped Prior's spiritual life. However, this book, often seemed to veer into just literary analysis. I kept putting this book on the back burner until I realized that I just didn't want to finish it. I did, however, appreciate her chapter on how Jane Eyre affected her life. In fact, it made me want to revisit Jane Eyre. ...
  • Alyssa
    If you are a lover of literature you will really enjoy this book. I learnt so much from Karen Swallow Prior - more than I probably learnt in some of my literature subjects at university. But if you are a lover of literature and a Christian, you will love this book. Prior so marvellously and naturally weaves her faith, her God, her life and her books into one seamless story. I had just the best time reading it.
  • Adam Shields
    Short Review: A memoir about books for people that love books. Well worth reading. Prior takes a book each chapter to illustrate or explain her life. This is a grand honor to the books that have made her who she is. I really enjoyed it even though I have read less than half of the books she talks about. I do wish that she had included some 'non-classic' books. But that is a minor quibble. If you love books, check this out.My longer review is on m...
  • Nelleke Plouffe
    For a reading person, what could be better than the memoir of a person who has been shaped by literature? Maybe my expectations were too high. While I loved the idea of the book, and enjoyed learning from the author's interaction with all the books included, I found the author's personality and life experiences difficult to relate to. I would still recommend this book to my classic literature-loving friends.
  • Marybeth
    A book for anyone -- lovers of literature or not. Prior uses her history with books to trace the history of her life, explaining how reading shaped her experiences but also provided insight into those experiences. The first chapter (center on Milton's Areopagitica) and the tenth chapter (covering Donne's poetry) are where Prior's at her best, though all the chapters are good. This book helpfully includes discussion questions at the end, making it...
  • Margaret
    Read this for book club and really enjoyed both the author's style and the subject matter. I had read all the literature she talked about except Madame Bovary so that made it more enjoyable for me, but the principles about life she drew from the literature were fascinating.