On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

by Karen Swallow Prior, Leland Ryken

NOOK Book(eBook)

$11.99 $19.99 Save 40% Current price is $11.99, Original price is $19.99. You Save 40%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


Publishers Weekly starred review
A Best Book of 2018 in Religion,
Publishers Weekly

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 encounters 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493415465
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 642,946
File size: 14 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Karen Swallow Prior (PhD, SUNY Buffalo) is an award-winning professor of English at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More--Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist. Prior has written for Christianity Today, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, First Things, Vox, Think Christian, and The Gospel Coalition. She is a research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a senior fellow with Liberty University's Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement, a senior fellow with the Trinity Forum, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Leland Ryken
Introduction: Read Well, Live Well
Part One: The Cardinal Virtues
1. Prudence: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding
2. Temperance: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. Justice: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
4. Courage: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Part Two: The Theological Virtues
5. Faith: Silence by Shusaku Endo
6. Hope: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
7. Love: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
Part Three: The Heavenly Virtues
8. Chastity: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
9. Diligence: Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
10. Patience: Persuasion by Jane Austen
11. Kindness: "Tenth of December" by George Saunders
12. Humility: "Revelation" and "Everything That Rises Must Converge" by Flannery O'Connor
Discussion Questions

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Andrew Johnson More than 1 year ago
I have been a lover a good books since college especially fiction books. As it was the one type of genre I was missing in my degree. So i did not need to be convinced by Karen Swallow Prior to read great books. However, I gained something more valuable: How reading can help us live a good life. She does this by attaching a virtue to each fiction work and shows within that work the virtue lived out by the characters. For Example, Temperance is shown through "The Great Gatsby" by Fitzgerald. She does this in a way that does not completely spoil the reading of the work. I found that I gained a greater appreciation of "Gatsby" after reading the chapter. I even read it again and enjoyed it so much better then my first reading. The same thing happened with "Pilgrim's Progress." One of the few fiction books, I read in college as a part of my degree and I was not a fan of it when I read it. However, I am eager to go back a read it to see what I missed. Prior not only showed me to go back a read books that I have read but she convinced me to read authors I have tried to avoid, namely Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain. I hate to admit by these authors always seemed boring to me probably because I was forced to read them in school. But after "On Reading Well," I am eager to read or listen to these books in the near future. Overall, what I appreciated most about "On Reading Well" is it stops this idea that I have to read non-fiction to live a virtuous life. Prior shows how you can read fiction and learn how to a live a virtuous life.