Monday, October 5, 2015

A Christian Guide To The Classics {By: Leland Ryken}

I absolutely LOVE reading the classics. Canterbury Tales, Edgar Allan Poe, The Pilgrim's Progress, anything by Jane Austen, and so on. My love of books came from reading the classics when I was younger. It gave me a good foundation for reading and they all have great vocabulary. But, as a Christian I tend to read them with a different viewpoint. Leland Ryken's new book, A Christian Guide To The Classics, helps to break down these books (and other written materials) from a Christian worldview. He expounds on the greatness of the classics while also being realistic in that we shouldn't read them just because they are considered "classic". I received this book from Family Christian for review purposes.

The author gives the reader step-by-step instructions on breaking down exactly what a "classic" is and how to read them. He gives many examples from great historical authors and includes a sampling of different literary classics from many different genres and time periods (page 94-98). At the back of the book are a few quotes by famous classical writers about reading and books. It was fun to read what some of them had to say about books.

Here are the chapters listed in order:
  1. Misconceptions about the Classics
  2. What is a Classic?
  3. Why We Should Read the Classics
  4. The Greatest Classic: The Bible
  5. How Not To Read a Classic
  6. How to Read a Classic
  7. Christian Classics, Part 1
  8. Christian Classics, Part 2
  9. Secular Classics
  10. Where to Find the Classics
I found this book to be helpful in many ways. First, I really didn't know what the definition of a classic was. Mr. Ryken writes in a way that I could understand and make an educated decision when at the library picking out books to read. Second, I never thought about the fact that there are "Christian" classics and "Secular" classics. He writes about the difference between these two and also how to tell a true "Christian" classic from one that masks itself as Christian. I enjoyed reading that section of the book because so many authors call themselves Christian authors without even thinking about if their work is actually Biblically sound and can be tested by scripture. Third, I love the lists of classics that he gives toward the end of the book. I kept looking for lists of classics and he kept me turning the pages until the end. It was a great strategy to get me to read the entire thing.

I have a home library because I homeschool. Not that you have to homeschool to have a home library but we do because of that reason. Over the years I have collected many books. After a while I got to a place that I would only buy books that were considered "morally sound" and/or a classic. Earlier this year I went through all of my books and weeded out the "twaddle" books and am left with plenty of books still. With this new book, A Christian Guide To The Classics, I feel fully equipped to buy great books and literary works in the future to add to my collection.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves books. You will learn so much about the different styles of classics and what a true Christian classic really looks like.

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