In 2014 I read Humanities and Public Life edited by Peter Brooks. In that book the “ethics of reading” was a theme addressed from a variety of perspectives in a scholarly conference devoted to the humanities and public life. One key idea from that conference and the essays published from it had to do with the possibility of reading making people more humane people.
I think that C Christopher Smith’s book Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods to Flourish (IVP, 2016) asks a similar kind of question, “Can reading and should reading makes us more faith and community sensitive people?”
I believe that Smith makes a strong case in favor of a hearty “YES!”
Reading for the Common Good is a wonderful book about the power of reading, literacy, faith development/discipleship, and community development. Starting with the perspective first introduced by Peter Senge twenty-five years ago, with his concept of the learning organization, Smith argues that reading in communion, in community is an vital and important task for people of faith as they seek to live out the gospel in the context of their local, regional, and even national and international communities.
In nine chapters, Smith addresses the ideas of slow reading, reading and congregational identity, reading with our neighbors, and faithful engagement in economics and politics, among other topics. The result is a fresh view of community learning and development which has implications for both congregational and community life as well.
Reading for the Common Good was a refreshing book to read about the power of reading… together in order to grow in one’s faith as well as meaningfully contribute to the development of one’s neighborhood and community as well as beyond them. This would be a great book for college and seminary classes as well as Sunday School classes, small groups, book clubs, and people who are earnest in reaching connecting with their neighbors to improve neighborhoods.
I grew to like this book as it moved along and it gave me some fresh ideas about community connection and faith. I gave this book a four-star rating on Goodreads.
Note: I received an galley copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.