Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Reading and Reviewing of Books

As the year ends, and I realise I've read at least 60 books this year, I thought I might reflect a little on my own personal reading and reviewing practices.

Reading

Books which I read tend to fall into two main categories - books related to my MTh studies, and books I want to read. I no longer read a lot of fiction, so most of the later are theological, classics, language-related, books that I've heard about and thought were worth a shot. Books related to MTh studies I leave in my office, generally because I need to take extensive notes on them. Other books I leave at home for reading.

I use a handy program called "Tomboy Notes" (I'm running Ubuntu), and have a Note devoted to books I might be interested in. At the moment it tells me I'm roughly reading 6 books simultaneously, and have a queue of about 20, a number of which aren't released.

I get paid peanuts, and have no book allowance, but I do have access to quite possibly the best theological library in the southern hemisphere, so I tend to borrow all my books.

Reviewing

I started reviewing mainly as a means to focus my reading and keep some notes from books I've read. My reviews are generally not too critical. This is because I try to be discerning in the books I read (I like to read quality), and if I don't like a book I often can't be bothered reviewing it - I want to share the good things I've read! Also, if a book is unengaging, I may not finish reading it, and I tend to only review books I finish.

Usually I will sit down immediately after finishing the book, and just write out my thoughts. There's not a lot of method, so it's hardly an in-depth process. It varies from book to book. I am trying to be more self-critical of my review writing, so that my reviews are better quality, and of more use to both you and I.

Upcoming

I hope to get a couple more in before the year's out. I'm reading a couple of books about Yoder, will try and write a few more detailed posts from Yoder, and a couple more posts on the Fathers (one on Novatian, one on Athanasius).

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