MAT bReview on Reaching Outby Henri J. M. Nouwen


1. Abstract. After listing author, publisher, and date, summarize what you have read as if you were the author boiling down the book into 500 tight words. Prove that you comprehend the readings by writing a no-nonsense summary. The abstract is not a commentary or listing of topics, but rather a gut-deep, insightful  precis of the longer, more elaborate book. Abstract equals boiled down.

2. Concrete responses. Get vulnerable! In 250 words, relate a personal life episode that this book triggered in your memory. Relate your story in first person, describing action, quoting exact words you remember hearing or saying. In the teaching style of Jesus, this is a do-it-yourself parable, case study, confession. You will remember almost nothing you have read unless you make this critical, personal connection. What video memory began to roll? This is your chance to tell your story and make new ideas your own.

3. Reflection. What new questions pop up for you in response to what you have read? Keep a rough note sheet at hand as you read. Out smart the author by asking better questions than he/she has raised. Begin with questions like,  What bothers me about this book? Please keep this section to about 250 words.

4. Action. So what are you going to do about it, anyway? Tell in detail what you are going to say to a counselee, send as an email, or say to a friend. What actions or changes are you going to make in your life as a result of your learning? Your response here is a matter of obedience first, questions later. Be precise in summarizing your action steps (limit these comments to about 200 words).