Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ecclesiastes 12:12

With the plethora of Christian books available in Christian bookstores, some of which find their way to the stacks in theological libraries, the reader or borrower can often be left overwhelmed by the vast choice on offer. How many of them are actually worth reading? As a librarian, I often see patrons borrow books of questionable quality and scholarship, and certainly unsuitable for assignment research. Occasionally if a borrower asks me for recommendations, I steer them away from certain authors. This might sound harsh or judgmental, but in an academic setting students need to be careful about their choice of references, and it would be unprofessional of me to not help my patrons find suitable resources.

The other day I stumbled across Discerning Reader, a new website designed to, as the name implies, help Christian readers make good reading choices. Site features either available now or in development include reviews, summaries, author interviews, reading lists, and church resources. From a Christian viewpoint, reading can be very valuable to spiritual growth, but only if you choose your books wisely. You need to sort the wheat from the chaff. If you can get past its slight American focus, the developers of this website are to be commended for their work.


Kitty said...

This is a great post Ross. As of course as a librarian, you have the credential to give u s this advice. I will certainly check out the Discerning Reader website. Thanks!

Sing Chee said...

Fascinating site Ross...added to my favourites. Howeever, it does seem that most of the reviews are positive? And not to forget the limited range of books up there!

Do you think there could be more space for actually TEACHING people how to be more discerning, as compared to just telling them what's good or bad?

Ross McPhee said...

The other thing to bear in mind is that this site hasn't been active for very long, so that's why the range of books is limited. My only concern is that at this time there's no information about evaluation criteria used to assess the books. The potential is there but this site needs more work to come into its own.

Ross McPhee said...

I'd also like to know what the credentials of the reviewers are.