I have to admit that it seems a little odd to me to be curled up with a book about books during my reading time lately, rather than just reading, well, you know . . . books.

But the further I wind myself into Karen Swallow Prior‘s Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me, I realize that really, this is not a book about books. It’s the story of one woman’s encounter with truth that begins on pages but ends up becoming alive in the experiences and people that she encounters.

If I’m not careful, I find myself becoming a bit envious as I get to know the young-adult version of Prior who becomes so engrossed in reading that it builds a framework for interpreting events like rock concerts and family history. I become envious, because I used to have that kind of relationship to books.

It’s the classics Prior writes about: classic literature like Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, and Tess of the D’Ubervilles. But also classic coming-of-age experiences, like the middle-school lunchroom dilemma, first love, and teenage rebellion.

So this book of Prior’s, it’s making me want to read the classics again. But, it’s not just the classics that have become distant to me. Recently, I’ve hardly read at all, thus my hesitation to spend my few minutes devoted to reading each day on a book about books.

My hesitations were soon set aside, however, as I found this lovely book is not distracting me from reading; it’s doing the very thing reading always used to do.

It’s changing me.

Booked has reminded me what a life saturated by reading can become: an anthology of stories both real and imagined, that shape as much as recount.

Particularly, Prior does a most convincing job revealing how a life of faith can be ignited and stoked by stories that come from many different perspectives, when the truth of those stories – truths like beauty and suffering and redemption – is interpreted through the lens of Truth from God’s word.

At it’s heart, Booked is just beautifully contrived and beautifully written. With just three chapters left to read, I’m already starting to miss it.

Thankfully, the truth of Prior’s life and story will live on in everything else I read.


For other reviews or posts about Booked, check out the High Calling posts on Prior’s book.

Book cover image by Kelly Sauer.