Editor’s Note: The text below is an introduction to the book review rubric, which started with the first issue of Beacon Lights, January 1941. Since then the rubric has appeared 253 times. The exact number of books reviewed over the past 75 years is difficult to determine. In many instances of the rubric’s appearance in a given issue, several books may have been reviewed, bringing the total number of books reviewed to well over 300.
We do not doubt but that our first venture into the field of book-reviewing will be marked with imperfection. However, we have determined that we shall improve, and consequently we welcome constructive criticism of our work at any time. We feel that this department will fill a deep need in the lives of our covenant youth. Our purpose and aim with this department of our new periodical is, first of all, to create in our young people a desire to read that literature which is of a high order, the reading of which will be beneficial for them. Even these days when the cry “I have no time” is frequently heard, we surely must devote part of our time to the development of ourselves intellectually. To serve that purpose this department will not only review certain books, but will also issue from time to time short lists of recommended reading material. From these lists our young people can choose various kinds of books for reading and-or study. These books will include wholesome fiction, worthwhile autobiography and biography, sound historical works, and other books of interest and value to our youth.
We hope that this department will supply a long-felt need among the organizations comprised of our youth. Very often a minister in our churches is confronted with the serious question: “If all this modern literary trash is so very harmful to our young people, what then would you suggest as good reading material?” The answer to this question is an aim of this department. We would regard ourselves well compensated for our labors if our Protestant Reformed youth should develop a definite desire for reading, and thus heed the admonition of Scripture to “buy out the time.” One hears of the so-called “problems” that are connected with the entertainment of youth today. We would warn our young people, however, not to be deceived that there is such a problem. Rather, we would admonish you to study the Scriptures, and advise you to develop your mind by the devotion of your spare time to reading and studying good, clean, wholesome literature. And so we close our introductory remarks with a prayer that our feeble effort may achieve its purposes and aims with the blessing of our Covenant God.