I love to read. I hate to read. I'm not good at reading. There's too much to read.
Chances are, you've thought or said one of these exact phrases before because reading is important and in many ways unavoidable.
Learn how to better read, what to read, when to read, and why you should read with this helpful guide from accomplished reader Tony Reinke. Offered here is a theology for reading and practical suggestions for reading widely, reading well, and for making it all worthwhile.
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Customer Reviews for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Review 1 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
For a lover of books, this book was filled with excellent information. Ever wonder if you should be reading a certain kind of book? What if you are reading books but not understanding the message? Have you been taught to never mark up a book? You will learn the answers to those questions and more in the information filled chapters in this easy to read book.
The tone the author sets in this book is loving in nature and not judgmental at all. His helpful guidelines to keep you reading every day are excellent. Not sure what to read? The author offers many different categories to try reading and ways to make that reading meaningful. I thought I knew all about reading but I learned quite a bit from the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading. I gave this book 4/5 stars because some of the information went pretty far in-depth and may be a little boring for some readers.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read
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Review 2 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Date:April 8, 2012
Go to your local bookstore or if you’re lazy go to Amazon.com and search for “reading.” You will find an assortment of very good books about the topic of reading--organizing your reading, reading faster, or maybe increasing reading comprehension. What you will be hard pressed to find is a book that offers practical advise but first develops a robust theology of reading. Tony does just that in Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading.
A Theology of Reading
Tony begins by saying,
Even in its fallen condition, creation continues to emit the Creator’s glory, a glow that can be found in the pages of great books. (Kindle Locations 88 of 2479)
This truth is significant because many Christians would argue that no truth can be found outside of Scripture. Tony starts with the truth in Scripture and then uses the biblical worldview therein to critique read (or not read) all other literature. He goes on to assert,
Christian readers are illuminated by “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4). “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Illuminated by the gospel, we now perceive and enjoy God’s truth, goodness, and beauty--whether it’s in the blazing sun of the inspired Word of God, in the moonlight of creation, or in the starlight of great books. The Holy Spirit has opened our spiritual eyes, and our entire reading experience is not “lit” by God’s illuminating presence. (Kindle Location 88 of 2479)
Tony boldly claims all truth, authority, and wisdom for Scripture. We should read “the deficient books in light of” Scripture (Kindle Location 189 of 2479). And again he affirms the supremacy of Scripture when he quotes Spurgeon
All other books might be heaped together in one pile and burned with less loss to the world than would be occasioned by the obliteration of a single page of the sacred volume (Kindle Location 210 of 2479)
He then proceeds to encourage us to use discernment when choosing our books by applying biblical principles. He recognizes this when he recommend we keep a close on what our children are reading encouraging parents to develop this crucial muscle (discernment) by reading with our children. He then concludes this section by arguing for the unique power of words over images and encourages us to have a robust, biblical worldview. These chapters really set the tone for all of Lit!i and are invaluable.
Organize Your Reading
One major result of reading Lit! will be a review of my own reading priorities. After some initial thought, I noticed my tendency is to read what’s new and neglect what’s old to a greater extent. An immediate results of this discovery will be planning on reading through older Christian literature to nourish my soul. I would also like to become more methodical with the way I annotate and highlight in my books. Finally, Tony hints at his procedure for cataloging quotations, passages, & paragraphs that are noteworthy. Prior to read Lit! I had already been considering how to catalog my own. I don’t know for me if Excel would be a great option but I know I must nail down one solution that will work for me. How do you catalog your quotations?
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As Christians the art of reading critically is paramount because God has communicated to us in written form. Even if your desire is not to read 75 books a year like Tony, you should have a desire to read Scripture. And reading is a muscle that is trained and exercised. I challenge anyone to faithfully and intentionally start reading through Scripture and see if the Spirit doesn’t give you a desire to starting reading other Christian literature to help nurture and mature your faith. Last, there’s a clarity and depth in the writing style. He doesn’t force metaphors but seasons his writing with them like salt. I could see Lit! being used in classroom settings, in discipleship settings, small groups, for personal enrichment, or a variety of other venues. It’s a must read!
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Review 3 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
If you had a goal of reading a book a week for the next fifty years of your life, you would be able to read approximately 2,600 books in your lifetime. That's a lot of books! However, compared to the number of books already in print and current publishing trends, this means that "For every one book that you choose to read, you must ignore ten thousand other books simply because you don't have the time (or money!)" (Reinke, pg. 94, emphasis added). I don't know about you, but I'm not reading a book a week...nowhere close. This means that there are A LOT of books that I will not be able to read in my lifetime. I want to make what I read count for all it's worth.
One resource that has been instrumental in shaping my reading goals for 2012 is Tony Reinke's new book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books. Reinke spends the first half of the book building a distinctly Christian, Gospel-centered worldview for reading books. He spends the second half of the book going over practical application points such as how to decide what to read, how to find time to read, how and why one might consider marking up a book, how to build community by reading, how to raise readers, etc.
Overall, I found Reinke's book very helpful and thought-provoking. I appreciate that he included plenty of Scripture references but is not legalistic and does not lay the burden of the "law" where there is none. Although there are many authors which Reinke esteems throughout the book, you will not find a recommended reading list per se. He does, however, recommend and explain the benefits of establishing reading priorities in order to determine how different types of reading material should fit into our diet. Again, Reinke does not legalistically prescribe reading priorities for his readers but guides them into thinking about what priorities would be most God-honoring for them. I found this extremely useful.
Through Lit!, Reinke helped me to grow in my understanding of the value of various types of fiction, including fantasy. He also helped me to consider the benefits of secular literature in a way of which I had not previously thought of it. While there are parts of the book that probably could have been fleshed out more, Reinke expounds on the most important concepts and gives his reader much to ponder. This is a book to which I will be returning regularly as I seek to ensure that the few books I choose will be the books most likely to benefit my life. Readers and non-readers will likely find this book an asset to selecting books wisely.
*Many thanks to Crossway for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!
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Review 4 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
As soon as I learned to read as a young child I began devouring books of all kinds. In my early teenage years, the focus of my reading shifted from reading only my Bible to beginning to read theology books of all kinds. Whether it’s reading commentaries, books on a variety of theological topics, or biographies, I have a huge passion perhaps even leaning to an addition to reading books. It was with great excitement then that I read LIT! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke.
LIT! is broken up into two parts. In the first part of the book Tony lays out a theology of books that emphasizes how the Gospel should inform our reading. He points out that “the work of God’s grace in your life is the solid foundation that supports lifelong reading goals” (Reinke, 16). The grid Reinke wants his readers to read through is Scripture. He notes that “Scripture is the ultimate grid by which we read every book. Scripture is perfect, sufficient and eternal” (Reinke, 26).
My two favorite chapters in this book were chapters twelve and fifteen. In chapter twelve, Reinke explains the fine art of defacing books with pencils, pens and highlighters. This chapter intrigued me because for Christmas, I asked and received a huge box of highlighters. I love to use highlighters and highlight important points in the book so whether I am reviewing books, or going back to the book later, I can quickly leaf through the book and find the important points I’ve highlighted. Reinke notes that he “writes in my books to weave them into my library” (Reinke, 149).
Using a highlighter while reading is something new I’ve done in the last year or so. Thus far it’s helped me to slow down and think critically about what the author has written. Reinke encourages active readers to “wield biblically-sharpened discernment.” Reading quickly through books will mean that you read more books in a given year, but the goal of reading is not who reads the most, but who reads the best. The goal of reading well is to grow in the grace of God. Using a highlighter while reading has helped me slow down while reading and highlight the important parts of the book.
Tony in chapter five gives five marks of a healthy book reader: 1) Mature readers prize wisdom, 2) mature readers cherish old books, 3) mature readers keep literature in its place, 4) mature readers avoid making books into idols, and mature readers cling to the Savior (Reinke, 177). Reading good godly Christian authors can help Christians grow in their understanding of the Word of God and the Gospel of God, but Tony is spot on when he says “regardless of how many books we read, we cling to the old rugged cross” (Reinke, 185).
Dr. Russell Moore in his endorsement of LIT! comments that “this engagingly written book will make you think, but it will also provide practical, winsome advice on how to become the right kind of reader for the glory of God.” Maybe you love to read. Maybe you hate to read. Perhaps you don’t think you have time to read at all or only read Christian books. Perhaps you think “I’m not any good at reading, or there is too much to read.” Reading LIT! will help all types of readers to become better readers. LIT! is more than just a book about how to read it is a book that combines knowledge of the Word of God, and theology with a desire to help people enjoy God through reading widely and reading well to the glory of God.
Reading has always been a passion of mine and will continue to be so until my last breathe. In reading LIT! by Tony Reinke I was helped in a variety of ways, but most importantly with the reminder to slow down and enjoy each book, I’m reading. If you’re like me and read a lot then you need LIT! Even if you don’t read or think reading has no value then you also need to read LIT! I recommend reading LIT not only to learn to read better, but to gain a biblical/theological understanding of how reading can help you grow in the grace of God.
Reading this book will help you to enjoy reading books, but more importantly than that it will point you to cling to the Cross of Christ. At the end of the day I can think of no greater compliment to extend to a Christian author than to point out that Tony has done a great service to the Church in writing this book by pointing his readers to cling to the Cross. Reading LIT will guide you into reading better, but it will also call you to look not to books for ultimate satisfaction but rather to look to, mediate upon and run to the Cross.
Title: LIT! A Christian Guide to Reading Books Author: Tony Reinke Publisher: Crossway (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 5 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Do you love reading ? Well, I guess if you don't then you wouldn't be reading this review for starters :). Are you a Christian ? Now that's the big question - Do you follow God or are you of the worldly ways ? As a big reader and I do mean BIG , I tend to read alot of everything, I have a very eclectic taste in books. The other thing though about me is that I am a Christian, I go to church most sundays , I read my bible every now and again, I listen to worship music on my Ipod, I read Christian fiction and non-fiction books. This brings up my main question - Am I still considered Christian-like because I read books that are wordly like e.g Dystopian Novels, Erotica Fiction, Supernatural and Paranormal Fantasies and because on my Ipod amidst the Christian music is Pop, Rock, Alt.Rock, Punk etc . I believe that in a way as long as you have given your heart to the lord and follow in ways that are Christian-like then it really shouldn't matter what you read or listen too as we do have to put into the perspective , that we are living in the WORLD and are surrounded by worldly things every single moment of the day. Lit ! by Tony Reinke is the Christian's Guide to Reading Books , it was an interesting guide to flick through and one that will be sitting on my shelf as a vade mecum - which I found out yesterday was the latin word for ready reference. In Lit ! Tony talks to us about different genres of books and the theological discussion about them . This book will challenge what you read, how you read, and how much time you set aside to read. It will also inspire you to read books you might not normally read; for me that is more classic fiction, more poetry, and more of the Christian classics. If you are an avid reader like me, this book will deepen your passion for good books. And, if you are not a big fan of reading, this book may inspire you to crack open a few more books. Once again, Lit ! by Tony Reinke is a book that I recommend all avid readers - Christian or not to read through and have on hand.
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Review 6 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
An excellent book
Date:November 8, 2011
In Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books, former journalist Tony Reinke offers a theology for reading as well as practical suggestions for reading. Using scripture and a great deal of additional research, Reinke provides Christians with a deep, multifaceted look at the topic of reading.
Pastor C. J. Mahaney’s foreword does a thorough job at setting up the book by describing the important part that reading has played in his life and Christian walk. Reinke then begins the book by explaining what the title of the book (Lit!) represents: while short for “literature,” it also reminds us that “the glow of God’s creative power is all around us” (pg. 16) and, most importantly, emphasizes the fact that Christian readers are illuminated by the light of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). Therefore, says Reinke, we see God’s truth in all literature. The author then dives into the topic, covering everything from the biblical foundation for reading, to the benefits of reading non-Christian books, to Reinke’s own formula for determining what he reads, to finding time to read. He ends the book with a look at the five marks of a healthy reader.
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably have already determined that this book covers a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I love to read, although I go through periods where I fail to set aside proper time to do so. I found the theological portion of the book enlightening. Reinke makes many excellent points for why to read a wide variety of literature and how our faith relates to our reading. I also found the practical portion of the book incredibly helpful. His tips on reading fiction, reading non-fiction, choosing books, setting aside time to read, taking notes, and many other topics are very useful.
I urge you to read this book whether you enjoy reading or not. If you don’t enjoy reading, perhaps it will help you to find enjoyment in the practice and to grow in your faith as a result of it. If you already enjoy reading, I think you’ll walk away from the experience ready to grow your love of reading and with a new appreciation for the importance of it. I know I did.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advance reading copy of this book free from Crossway via netGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 7 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
The author makes it quite clear that "the Bible for a Christian should be the number one book read." He states that Scripture is the only inspired Word of God. But, there is man-made literature that can be inspiring. It is direly important the type of information that we feed our minds, because our minds are a product of what we put in. The author points out that we live in a "graphic society." We are blasted visually with colorful entertaining pictures that can steer us away from the black ink on white pages in a book. Even in magazines and newspapers words are surrounded by enticing photographs. "The world of sight, the world of the eye, cannot take us beyond what is shown. Because sight can only go so far, it takes words and thought to give the real truth and meaning behind what is seen." Os Guinness From how to read a non-fiction book to knowing what books to avoid, from understanding that when we read Scripture "our minds are sharpened in safety" to kindling reading in the next generation. Tony Reinke writes one of the most exhaustive non-fiction books I've read...period. He states his reasons for writing this book and I believe he did a great job in expressing those ideas.
The ideas I would like to describe more thoroughly are: Literature is Life--reasons for reading literature, and from the chapter entitled Read with Resolve--particularly why more women do not read theology books.
The first idea is from the chapter Literature is Life. I've heard my dad state, "I don't read junk," he means fiction. Dad is a big reader of non-fiction, mainly Christian non-fiction, but he most recently read books on Patton, Eisenhower and Churchill. I disagree with dad in his opinion that fiction is junk, but I'm sure there are many others out there that believe the same. Tony Reinke gives an example in that by "reading fictional literature it can deepen our appreciation for concrete human experience. By retelling life with words, novelists heighten our sensitivity to common human experiences." By reading about people from other religions, cultures, countries, education levels, life experiences, and even physical or emotional trauma, we leave our "little" world--the life we know and understand, and are better able to have empathy for and take action to help others. It does not matter if the book is fiction or non-fiction both can teach us about other humans. One of my favorite quotes on this topic, "The best fictional authors spell out our common human experience in a way elusive to other forms of writing. The best Christian novelists write from a biblical world view, one that is not afraid of digging into the soil of common human experience." Humans need to identify with other humans, even in a book. If we cautiously tip-toe around certain topics then we are not identifying with other humans, we are blatantly ignoring them. And by ignoring them we are being unloving. And Christ has called us to love. Now by stating that last sentence their will be those that think I'm liberal minded and being politically correct, that is not my intent. I repeat, Christ has called us to love.
The second idea is from the chapter Read with Resolve. Tony Reinke quotes from another author Elyse Fitzpatrick in stating "that many women do not read theology books." I would like to point out that it might be possible that many men do not read Christian fiction. I read theology books, thanks mainly in part to my dad. Dad has encouraged me by his own active theology reading and then passing information on what he learned to me. Eventually I picked those books up myself and started reading them. It is fascinating and contagious when a parent actually talks to their children about books, turns the television off, and has a lengthy discussion about the book they just read. It really does catch on! I think the main reason that Christian fiction is preferred to theology books is that Christian fiction is a quick read. I personally can read most Christian fiction books in 1 to 2 days max. Whereas a Christian non-fiction book may take several days, because there is more material to digest. The author believes that "women feel they may become unattractive to men because of their theology reading," I don't buy that reason. I do believe that theology books require more discipline to read, study, then think about the material. Whereas a Christian fiction book at least feels more like entertainment.
I found this book to be wonderful! I've read other reviews state this is a book for non-readers. I think it is a book for people who read, but are not big readers and do not spend time thinking about why or what they read. As a book reviewer one of my jobs is dissecting not just the book itself, but why I chose that book and what I gleaned from it. Many of the thoughts in the book I'd already thought of and applied to my own reading. My attitude is there will always be something more for me to learn, never will there be a time in this life when I will know it all.
Thank you to Crossway for my free review copy!
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Review 8 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Every Christian Should Read
Date:October 11, 2011
Every Christian should read this book -- those who love to read AND those who don't. If you are a Christian homeschooling parent, like me, who is making book choices for her children, you certainly need this book.
If you've ever wondered if it's okay to read non-Christian books at all, you need to read Reinke's rationale. He goes back to the early church fathers and the Reformers to build his argument that Christians CAN benefit, even spiritually, from reading books besides the Bible.
The book gets very practical with sections on how to choose books, how to read with a discerning eye, marking in books, and making time for reading. Personally, I found his chapter on modern media most compelling. He points out how our image-laden culture wars against our desire and ability to read carefully. Then he offers suggestions for fighting against that tendency.
As another reviewer pointed out, there is a lot of abstract philosophy at the opening of the book. But it's okay to skip ahead to the more practical sections later in the book if that appeals to you. There were some chapters I couldn't wait to read, so I jumped ahead.
I received this book from Crossway in exchange for my honest review.
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Review 9 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Having received Lit! from Crossway for review, I thought I would share some thoughts on Part 1 of the book.
One Book to rule them all, One Book to gauge them, One Book to bring them all and in the brightness engage them.
Having finished the first part of Lit! A Christian Guide To Reading Books, written by Tony Reinke, I thought I would write a review. Part 1, entitled A Theology of Writing Books, can be summed up with the Tolkien-inspired couplet above. Reinke makes it very clear throughout the early chapters that the Bible is the primary and paramount book that is unequalled and incomparable. We must “be determined to read the imperfect in light of the perfect, the deficient in light of the sufficient, the temporary in light of the eternal, the groveling in light of the transcendent.” (28) That is to say, “Somewhere around 1450 BC, on a remote Egyptian mountaintop called Mount Sinai, an author wrote something so earth-shaking that the publishing industry has never recovered. It never will.” The Scriptures, as God's inspired words, trumps and triumphs over all other books and Reinke returns to this regularly.
The second essential idea proposed in this book is that gospel, and its Subject, are necessary for accurate and authentic reading; “Once God enlightens our spiritual eyes [in beholding Christ], we can read books for the benefit of our souls-whether it's the Ten Commandments, a thick systematic theology, the poems of John Donne, C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, or a microbiology textbook” (36). This spiritual eye-enlightenment is crucial to Reinke's approach to reading as, according to the author, “there is an eternal dimension to everything we read ... we read all of our books illuminated by God and in communion with Him.” (37)
These two concepts, foundational to appreciating and apprehending literature, are presented in an fresh and refreshing manner. Approaching books and reading with our Book in mind and our Savior in our heart seems like an obvious strategy having read the first part of the book. But as I was reading it came at me almost unexpectedly and resulted in me being encouraged in my reading and looking forward to more. These ideas permeate the rest of the chapters in Part 1.
The Bible in general, and the glorious gospel in particular, are the ultimate examples of why Reinke argues that we, as “Christian living in an image-saturated world ... must guard our conviction about the vital importance of words and language. For it is words and language that best communicate meaning.” (50). For the Christian, the Book and many other books are important.
It is Scripture as our gauge, and spiritually reborn eyes, that allow us to read Christian and non-Christian books with discernment. These are what helps us, states Reinke, evaluate what we read and perceive truth where it appears. Simply, a “firm grasp of biblical worldview, learned directly from the study of Scripture, is essential ...” (63).
It is with such sentiments that Reinke boldly states that “[His] conviction is that non-Christian literature-at least the best of it-is a gift from God to be read by Christians” (65). We now see how his theology of books and reading, built upon the preeminence of the Canon and a regenerated heart, is the basis for reading other literature. Truth, beauty, and goodness are all from God and praiseworthy where they are found. And we can hear the “Giver's Voice” in non-Christian writing if we have a strong biblical worldview and and revivified heart.
Finally, Reinke proposes that our imaginations are essential for our pursuit of godliness and we can train and cultivate our imaginations with, among other things, imaginative literature. The author expresses the importance of this genre of literature by giving several examples from the Book of Revelation. A rejection of fantasy, sci-fi, our other fantastical literature may leave us less prepared for comprehending similar biblical passages.
Part 1 of Lit! is a convincing approach to a cardinal theology for books and reading. Reinke has taken great care to make his writing readable and the truths he puts forward on a much written about topic are unexpectedly ingenious and inventive. His stalwart faithfulness to God's inerrant, inspired Word and the necessity of a regenerated life are educating, endearing, and essential to this book's value. I have only read approximately half of this book, yet I do not hesitate to recommend it.
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Review 10 for Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Lit! Is a book for nonreaders. Are you one? You know you should read (like you know you should take your vitamins). But you don't. This book will give you hope that reading can make a difference in your life. This book is for anyone who wants to read books and read them well. Reinke promises if you commit your life to reading books, your life will be enlightened. But books will also complicate your life. The purpose of the book is to study reading from a Christian perspective. In chapters 1-6 he develops some biblical and theological convictions about books and reading. He divides books into two categories: the Bible, everything else. We must remember to read the perfect in light of the imperfect. Because of sin, God must enlighten our spiritual eyes. He shares his concern over the trend to images over print. He speaks of developing a biblical worldview. He reviews the benefits of reading non-Christian books. In chapters 7-15 he writes about how to pick the right books and how to read them. American publishers add 200,000 books each year. For every one we read, we must ignore some 10,000 others. He shares his own priorities in reading and we are encouraged to develop our own. He gives six ways to find time to read books. He shares how he marks up his books and takes notes. He reviews recent books he has read.
I enjoyed this book. But then, I'm an avid reader. This book is for nonreaders. I am not sure nonreaders will wade through all the philosophy of Christian reading, the history and philosophy of images as carriers of meaning, retelling of biblical stories, describing how a worldview is developed, the seven critical truths of Scripture... You get my point. I wish Reinke would have grabbed the nonreader right at the beginning with the excitement of reading and some penetrating truths one can obtain only by reading. I think a nonreader would need to be grabbed in the first twenty five pages or so. That just did not happen in this book. So who will read this book? Christians like me who love to read all kinds of books and have been longing for a theology of reading that encourages us to do that. Reinke does give us that. There is much to learn from reading non-Christian books – as long as we keep Scripture our priority.
I received an egalley of this book for the purpose of this review.