On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books Review

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, forms the reader's own character.

Acclaimed author Karen Swallow Prior takes readers on a guided tour through works of great literature both ancient and modern, exploring twelve virtues that philosophers and theologians throughout history have identified as most essential for good character and the good life. In reintroducing ancient virtues that are as relevant and essential today as ever, Prior draws on the best classical and Christian thinkers, including Aristotle, Aquinas, and Augustine. Covering authors from Henry Fielding to Cormac McCarthy, Jane Austen to George Saunders, and Flannery O'Connor to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Prior explores some of the most compelling universal themes found in the pages of classic books, helping readers learn to love life, literature, and God through their encounter with great writing.

In examining works by these authors and more, Prior shows why virtues such as prudence, temperance, humility, and patience are still necessary for human flourishing and civil society. The book includes end-of-chapter reflection questions geared toward book club discussions, features original artwork throughout, and includes a foreword from Leland Ryken.

Title:On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • 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 rus...

  • 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 th...

  • 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...

  • Lubinka Dimitrova

    I'll refrain from actually rating this title. I can't resist books about books, but that is definitely ruled out in this case, since everything good about reading is wrapped in sanctimonious, moralist...

  • Jeremy

    I received an ARC paperback and read the forward and introduction on June 17–18, 2018. Promotional video here. Commendation here. Claremont review here. Patheos review here. Tony Reinke liked it. KS...

  • Mary

    Karen Swallow Prior has written a wonderful masterpiece of a book. I had to read it slowly. There was so much to think about, so much to learn, so much of my chaff to blow away... It is so much more t...

  • 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 w...

  • Todd Miles

    Excellent book. Beautifully crafted and written. Deeply challenging. A thought provoking study on the virtues, cleverly drawing from great literature. So you get spiritual formation coupled with a lit...

  • 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...

  • Unchong Berkey

    Reading this book (listening, actually) was like experiencing a really good literature class. I loved Prior’s approach to reading some great works via virtue analysis. It made me want to re-think so...