Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer Reading List

Since the demise of my book club (a moment of silence, please...), my reading habits have been haphazard at best. Nothing like a monthly meeting to inspire you to buckle down and read a couple chapters. Lately it's been Rolling Stone magazine and--well, that's about it. But I have made my way through some interesting non-fiction works (definitely not light-weight beach blanket fare!):

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman which explores changes and inconsistencies in the New Testament. Ehrman, who studied Greek, Hebrew and Latin in order to be able to translate original biblical texts as Evangelical Seminary student, eventually became an agnostic as the result of his research. Some of the changes can be attributed to scribal errors (the predecessor of the "typo") while some were blatantly political--or at the very least ideological.

I became intrigued with the subject matter after reading an article about Ehrman in The Washington Post. I was fascinated with how this biblical scholar's studies so profoundly affected him as to completely renovate his world view. And I thought the book might be helpful research for a screenwriting project I have in mind. Somewhat ironically, there are at least two rebuttal books on Amazon dealing with Ehrman's "misquoutes" or "fallacies" in Misquoting Jesus.

(But the "scribal error" thing brings to mind a joke about a monk who goes back to the original texts to translate and transcribe them. The Abbott comes upon him in the Library and the monk is crying. "What is the problem, my son?" he asks the monk.

"The word is celeBRATE." the monk replies.

That joke kills me every time...)

The book I just finished is Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh. Detailing the "shady" dealings of a poor Southside Chicago neighborhood--from illegal activities such as drug dealing and prostitution to illicit activities such as barter agreements, under-the-table wage earners and unreported rental income. The web that ties both together weaves a network through the community--blurring the distinctions between illegal and illicit.

This is another book I read for research for a possible feature script project.

Upcoming is another Ehrman book--Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium as well as another book by Venkatesh, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto. Again, reading for further research for two possible writing projects.

When I'm finished I plan to read Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle (for FUN!) starting with re-reading Quicksilver (volume one) and The Confusion (volume two--which I read, but did a lot of skimming) and The System of the World (volume three--which I could not get through at all due to sheer exhaustion from volumes one and two!). These books are 800-900 pages EACH, so it's quite an undertaking to finish the whole series!

What are you reading and recommending?


  1. Thanks for the recommendations!

    My latest find is America's Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar.

  2. I'm on Goodreads:

  3. Harry Potter..yes I'm one of those...and Band of Sisters, mostly for research but super fascinating.