I have been on a journey of discovery to learn what principles and parameters define a “good” book.
Good, as in that which is worthy to read ourselves, and to give to our children to read. Good, as in, “of a favorable character or tendency; suitable; fit; agreeable; pleasant; wholesome; well-founded, cogent, and true; honorable; choice, discriminating; virtuous, right, and commendable,” according to Webster’s.
You see, I have not been fully satisfied with every book recommended on various “good” book lists (including my own, truth be told). My first foray into this subject nearly twenty years ago came up with this:
“The criteria we used to judge inclusion are: Does the book have literary value? Does the book re-emphasize a Biblical worldview or the Judeo-Christian heritage in some way? Does the book teach, through whatever means, what is moral or just or true? Does the book encourage to love and good works? Does the book exemplify warmth, tenderness, courage, humor, and other values and characteristics that we desire our children to be exposed to? Does the book nourish the intellect and fire the imagination? Does the book cross age barriers to be enjoyed by all?” The 1000 Good Books List
However, is that God’s definition of goodness? There is a just, perfect, and complete standard of goodness which God has defined for us – but what is it?
There are virtuous books, but which are contrived and as dry as dust. Is that all there is to goodness?
There are books which seem to violate standards of holiness, but which capture the heart and imagination. Is that all there is to goodness?
There are books that have been on the good books lists for thousands of years. Is that enough to define them as good?
This is my starting place:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Phi 4:8
What do these things mean, biblically and hebraically? What does it look like in real life and practical terms? I have been meditating on these things for over 6 months now, and am coming to a beginning place for the answers – and I will, as I so often do, think about them outloud with you. ♥
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