Literature in the Soul of Me

A life of books. A life of soul. Professor Karen Swallow Prior poignantly and humorously weaves the two, until you can't tell one life from the other. Booked draws on classics like Great Expectations, delights such as Charlotte's Web, the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and more. This thoughtful, straight-up memoir will be pure pleasure for book-lovers, teachers, and anyone who has struggled to find a way to articulate the inexpressible through a love of story.

Editorial Reviews


Ever wished you'd had a teacher who made you want to read the classics? Your wish has come true in this beautifully-told book. Karen Swallow Prior movingly and honestly tells a compelling story of self-discovery and coming to faith through some of the greatest books ever written.

Eric Metaxas

New York Times bestselling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy


In a time when 140-character sound bytes rule the day, great works of literature often go undiscovered. We need to journey back through these works and mine their wisdom, and Karen Swallow Prior is the perfect tour guide.

Jonathan Merritt

Critically-acclaimed author of A Faith of Our Own and Green Like God


One of the many ways God woos us to himself is through the words and worlds created by the literary greats. Books have left indelible marks of grace in Karen's life; her moving, deeply personal meditation left an indelible mark of grace on me. I can't recommend Booked highly enough.

Katelyn Beaty

Managing editor Christianity Today magazine


Booked isn't your run-of-the-mill memoir. It's the kind of work a bibliophile dreams of: a delightful story of books, faith, life, and love all mixed up together. Karen Swallow Prior's recollections of the books that have enriched and guided her will enrich and guide her readers.

Gina Dalfonzo

Editor, and Dickensblog


If you love literature, you will love this book. And if you hate literature, you will love this book. In a unique memoir, Karen Swallow Prior weaves themes from great literature into the story of her struggles to make sense of life from childhood through young adulthood. Classic works reveal fresh and often surprising insights as Prior connects them to her own growing self-awareness. Surely this is what books are for--not only to be read but to be experienced.

Nancy Pearcey

Author Total Truth and Saving Leonardo

Additional Reviews


Prior loves stories because she understands well their incarnational authority to teach us, to guide us into wisdom. She knows this power so well that she’s devoted her life to sharing her love of stories by teaching them to innumerable students. Booked is effective—moving—precisely because it is written by a teacher who is purposed with love for both her subject and the readers with whom she feels compelled to share it. Yet, Prior’s teacherly voice is also supplemented—sharpened—by a loving observance of the world around her, communicated in passages so literary that they are worthy of the literature that has formed her life and book.

Books and Culture

New and notable

The Wichita Eagle, 2016

Published Reviews

Author Comments

I wrote this book with different readers in mind. I wrote for those who already know and love the kinds of works I write about in Booked. But I also wrote for those who, perhaps, have never warmed up to classic literature or, perhaps, never had teachers to help cultivate their understanding and appreciation of these works. In other words, both novice and expert readers are welcomed in these pages!