The index to this book tells the story of its contents: full of what Christians call virtues and people of any background would call spiritual practices. There are dozens of pages about “attention,” for instance, and a similar number on “charity,” “hospitality,” “justice,” “temperance,” and “wisdom.” Deep Reading is about how a certain kind of reading tends to open or school these qualities in those who are willing to explore them. The authors want all of us to read deeply in order to live more deeply.

The authors also say that deep reading is “culturally subversive,” in that it requires the kind of sustained attention that’s become not only uncommon but unpopular.

The perspective throughout is learnedly Christian, with references to and quotations from books that are part of the Classics curriculum at universities of Christian background as well as theologians like Thomas Aquinas, sociologists like Robert Bellah, and a variety of mostly Protestant contemporary writers.

All three authors earned their PhDs at Baylor University, and are now professors of English at Protestant colleges. Their book is sure to be used in university courses with students. It will remind everyone of the value of a liberal arts education.

Each chapter concludes with a “Summary of Suggested Practices,” such as “Consider how characters in the texts you read prioritize or order their loves. Consider how your own ordered loves are similar to or different from theirs.” Chapters also conclude with a section of “Reflection and Discussion Questions,” for example: “When you read a text that involved a different moral code than yours, a different set of cultural values than yours, or some combination of the two, how did you respond?”

Deep Reading is written with the conviction that being well-read is important, and being able to read deeply even more so. As the authors explain in Parts 1, 2, and 3, deep reading practices enable one “to subvert distraction,” “to subvert hostility,” and “to subvert consumerism.”