What Makes For a (Really) Good Book?

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What makes for a good book? I mean, what makes for a really good book?

You know there’s a difference — but have you ever been able to pinpoint what differentiates the good books from the really good books — for you?

  • Is it the writing style of the author?
  • Is it the way they incorporate personal stories?
  • Or maybe it has to do with the level of research and statistical information that is included?
  • Maybe it has to do with the author’s ability to help you as the reader to find yourself in the text? Or see why the subject matter actually matters?
  • Or could it have to do with the book’s capacity for sharing practical life application?

 
Or maybe it’s something else all together.

You have probably guessed by now that I’m fishing for something — your help!

I’m in the process of working on my next book — and I would love to get your insight on how best to shape it.

This next book is geared towards students and inspired by Richard Foster’s quote:

In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness” he will rest satisfied.

Foster penned these words back in 1978, in his book Celebration of Discipline, but boy does it sound like he’s talking about our current North American culture. And even more so the North American college and university campus.

In addressing these issues of noise, hurry, crowds, and excess, I plan to introduce spiritual disciplines that I believe correspond directly: silence to noise, sabbath (or slowing) to hurry, solitude to crowds, and simplicity to “manyness” and “muchness.”

It will be a book on the spiritual formation of students — or how they (can) grow in their relationship with God.

But knowing that spiritual disciplines, and how they might be regularly practiced, are as foreign to most students as a language they’ve never even heard of, I want to provide some simple examples of how they might begin to engage these different disciplines in their everyday life. Think “stepping-stones.”

Beyond these few elements, however, I’m still trying to bring shape to how exactly this new book might look.

What are the elements that you have seen impact the lives of your students? What captures their attention and causes them to feel compelled to read on? What challenges the way that they think AND they way that they live their life?

As a person who works with, and invests in, the lives of college students — what would you hope to find in a book like this (as vaguely as I have defined it)?

Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message via Facebook or email.

Thanks in advance for any wisdom or insight you might offer!

 

About the author: Guy Chmieleski
Guy is the Founder and President of Faith On Campus. He is also the University Minister at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He is the author of Shaping Their Future: Mentoring Students Through Their Formative College Years and CAMPUS gODS: Exposing the Idols That Can Derail Your Present and Destroy Your Future.
  • http://christiannick.com/ Nick Christian

    Explain it in new ways to some of your students, ways they can relate to. Then ask for examples of how they incorporate it in their lives already. With the book being geared to college students, show them how it works in others’ lives–and multiple ways each of the disciplines work. Tell stories of other students, use quotes, suggestions, ideas from them. Perhaps think of yourself as “editing” a book for college students about spiritual disciplines rather than writing it. Or go about it as a guide to lead students into practicing the disciplines. Love the idea!

    I remember in college I had a group assignment for a class. We planned a short, personal retreat to the arboretum on campus. Our theme was listening in the silence. It opened a lot of classmate’s eyes to what could be a beneficial discipline and an easy way to practice it.

  • zack blaisdell

    My favorite books have been ministry related with personal stories that have been engaging to read. I think one of my favorite books is My Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. Several of his stories were based on videos he has done.
    I LOVE your book idea! When it is published I’ll definitely buy it, read it, and post a blog review for it.

    God bless.
    zack