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Reading for the Love of God

How to Read as a Spiritual Practice

Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, Ph.D.

Baker Book HouseBarnes & NobleAmazonTargetChristianbook

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publish Date: March 28, 2023
Language: English
ISBN-10: –
ISBN-13: –

What if we viewed reading as not just a personal hobby or a pleasurable indulgence but as a spiritual practice that deepens our faith?

In Reading for the Love of God, award-winning author Jessica Hooten Wilson does just that—and then shows readers how to reap the spiritual benefits of reading. She argues that the simple act of reading can help us learn to pray well, love our neighbor, be contemplative, practice humility, and disentangle ourselves from contemporary idols.

Accessible and engaging, this guide outlines several ways Christian thinkers—including Augustine, Julian of Norwich, Frederick Douglass, and Dorothy Sayers—approached the act of reading. It also includes useful special features such as suggested reading lists, guided practices to approaching texts, and tips for meditating on specific texts or Bible passages. By learning to read for the love of God, readers will discover not only a renewed love of reading but also a new, vital spiritual practice to deepen their walk with God.


Jessica Hooten Wilson (PhD, Baylor University) is the Visiting Scholar of Liberal Arts at Pepperdine University. She has written for The Gospel Coalition, National Review, the Christian CenturyComment magazine, and Englewood Review of Books and is the author of several books, including the Christianity Today Book Award Winner Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Wilson regularly speaks around the country and has connections with a broad array of reading communities and classical education forums.


“Jessica Hooten Wilson challanges us to take up and read — not only becuase it teaches about the faith of our past but because it makes our faith stonger for the present too. Get this book to learn, to grow, and to be inspired'”

Beth Allison Barr, James Vardaman Professor of History, Baylor University; bestselling author of The Making of Biblical Womanhood

“Reading for the Love of God is a tremendous gift, one that will shape, reform, and revitalize the way the church reads. By helping us read for the love of God, Jessica Hooten Wilson helps us live for the love of God.'”

Claude Atcho, pastor of Church of the Resurrection, Charlottesville, Virginia; author of Reading Black Books

“Jessica Hooten Wilson wonderfully demonstrates that reading is not only an art but also, most importantly, a transcendent calling, mission, and vocation.'”

Gloria Purvis, host and executive producer of The Gloria Purvis Podcast

“Jessica Hooten Wilson’s meditation on the theology, spirituality, and ethics of reading are punctuated with studies of great Christian readers, male and female, down through the ages, which adds a rich layer of historical insight to her own brilliant reflections.'”

Tish Harrison Warren, Anglican priest and author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night

“This helpful, encouraging guide is both for those who already know they love to read and for those who want to be somone who reads. We all benefit from Jessica’s winsome words on these pages. ‘”

Tsh Oxenreider, author of Bitter and Sweet, Shadow and Light, and At Home in the World

Public Praise

“While screens and devices challenge our attention spans and encourage shallow engagement with their content, Wilson suggests that we return to books, reading secular works as an “invitation to a broader vision.” She is a warm and faithful guide to reading as a spiritual practice, offering varied approaches (based on heroes like St. Augustine or Julian of Norwich) that help us draw closer to the sacred as we go deeper in our reading practices.”

The Presbyterian Outlook

“Jessica Hooten Wilson believes how and why we read to be as important as what we read. She invites us to imagine the message of the angel to John on Patmos to “eat this book” and what that means for reading the Bible and for reading other books. For those of us who read for amusement or information, she invites us to consider what it means to read as a spiritual practice. For many of us lost in screens, this means the recovery of a lost art. Along the way, she will introduce us to guides from whose reading practices we may learn.”

Bob On Books

“Hooten Wilson delivers a syllabus turned spiritual practice guidebook in a style that she describes as didactic but not systematic, ranging from the canons of rhetoric to medieval history of literary thought to theological application of the Incarnation and the Trinity to methods of spiritual formation such as lectio divina and contemplative prayer. Connecting all of these categories is a risky endeavor. Some may find Hooten Wilson’s academic and historical rubrics challenging; others may find her encouragement to practice “reading words redemptively” to be simplistic.”

Englewood Review

“Want to learn to read as a Christian? My, my, this is learned, thoughtful, interesting, Wilson is a very wise guide. Between the remarkable chapters about bookish culture of the past, she has sections on how other great saints have read and what we can learn from them. Indeed, four of the chapters are “Reading like Augustine”, “Reading like Julian of Norwich”, “Reading like Frederick Douglas” and “Reading like Dorothy Sayers.” The first few pages offer a fun and serious survey asking “What Kind of Reader Are You?” The appendix is a fascinating case study of reading a short story by Flannery O’Connor.

Not exactly like Adler’s beloved How to Read a Book, really, but there are overlaps.  Blurbs on the back of this one include rave comments from Beth Allison Barr and Tish Harrison Warren. Jessica Hooten Wilson has a PhD from Baylor University and now teaches at Pepperdine. You should order this book today — it is really a remarkable resource. Maybe you could do a book club on it?”

Hearts & Minds