Reading Hard Books

I’m reading John Piper’s God’s Passion for His Glory in my quiet times these days. Recently, I read this quote of Mortimer Adler’s thought in hisĀ How to Read a Book, which I thought was so good for us homeschooling moms to ponder.

[Adler] makes a passionate case that the books that enlarge our grasp of truth and make us wiser must feel, at first, beyond us. They ‘must make demands on you. They must seem to you to be beyond your capacity.’ If a book is easy and fits nicely into all your language conventions and thought forms, then you probably will not grow much from reading it. It may be entertaining, but not enlarging to your understanding. It’s the hard books that count. raking is easy, but all you get is leaves; digging is hard, but you might find diamonds.

Evangelical Christians, who believe God reveals himself primarily through a book, the Bible, should long to be the most able readers they can be. This means that we should want to become clear, penetrating, accurate, fair-minded thinkers, because all good reading involves asking questions and thinking. this is one reason why the Bible teaches us, ‘Do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature’ (1 Cor. 14:20 RSV). It’s why Paul said to Timothy, ‘Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything’ (2 Tim. 2:7). God’s gift of understanding is through thinking, not instead of thinking.

I so agreed with the above! It’s a great articulation of the core goal for Tapestry of Grace studies. I have labored for 15 years (can’t believe it’s really been that long!) to make it possible for homeschooling parents who did not grow up challenged by the Great Books (or familiar with them) to nonetheless approach them and gain confidence to require their children to struggle with them and thus grow into mature thinkers. The parents who thus tackle these Great Books later in life have written me over and over to thank me for not only what their students are learning (and how they are blossoming into great thinkers) but also for the added richness in their own minds as parents grow from wrestling these books to the ground. In this I rejoice, and I just wanted to give God the glory for the sweet fruit of reading hard books!

2 thoughts on “Reading Hard Books

  1. Julie S.

    It never fails, Things are going along great, then bam one day I realize I am tired, lacking confidence, weary, you name it and I want to give up. Time and Time again God meets me right where I am, Fills me and helps me take the next step. After a husband being deployed a year, a crazy full spring and summer with numerous life changing decisions and events I have felt unprepared for the coming year of teaching and co-op. I debated leaving our tapestry studies for something I saw as a little less rigorous. I was feeling overwhelmed and unqualified for the task ahead. My husband and I sat down the other evening to take a small bite from the elephant in front of us. We pulled out our first tapestry unit for the co-op year that began this week (did I mention I’ve just started thinking about the year, yet co-op is starting!. We began to read aloud together from the the unit intro, and the simple start, Reading words I’ve read on numerous occasions I was reminded of why we are homeschooling, why we chose and stick with TOG. Thank you Marcia for investing in so many. For allowing God to pour his love into so many through the way you and your precious family open and share your lives. Grateful for our God’s soverign faithful love, Looking forward to another amazingly blessed year of disciplining and homeschooling my children!

  2. Max Weismann


    We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery–three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos–lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

    Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading, on one DVD. A must for libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

    I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are–we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

    Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

    ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

    Thank you,

    Max Weismann


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