17 November 2009

"Good Book" by David Plotz

Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz

Genre: nonfiction, stunt memoir
On my TBR list? Yes

DISCLAIMER: If you follow me on Goodreads, you will find this book on my Abandoned shelf. It is only abandoned because I didn't get to finish it before it was due back at the library. I'm posting a review anyway because I feel that I read enough to get the gist of the book.

I am a Christian who believes in reading the Bible. However, in actual practice I have trouble cracking it open regularly because I don't like to re-read anything. If you are like me, reading through the Bible for the third or fourth time and need help sticking to it, then this book might be for you. The title is a bit misleading because Plotz doesn't read through the entire Bible, but rather the entire Bible as Jews see it -- meaning the Old Testament. Still, it is interesting to read a fresh take on it from someone who isn't an evangelical Christian but isn't an atheist or skeptic, either.

The author describes himself as a lax but well-educated Jew who acquired most of his knowledge of the Bible secondhand through what his teachers told him and references in popular culture. Then a random reading of the Old Testament made him realize that he didn't know as much about the Bible as he thought he did. So he sets out to read every word of the Old Testament to find out what else he missed.

Good Book started out as a blog that I vaguely remember reading years ago. Although the writing isn't as tiresome as some blogs-turned-books, in my opinion this book would be better enjoyed in small doses. That's why I say it would make a good companion to a Bible reading program like B90X (reading the entire Bible in 90 days). Actually, the way Plotz has organized the book promotes such a use. His chapters correspond with the books of the Old Testament and then are further broken down so that you can easily read a couple chapters of Genesis and then flip to Plotz's comments.

Reading the Bible is supposed to be its own reward, but there are times when I need a little push. When you are trying to drag yourself through Leviticus, Plotz's pithy comments will lighten your mood. I especially like the bits where he describes how his newfound knowledge affected the way he practiced his faith. I think that this is a book that Jews and Christians could both enjoy.

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Lisa said...

I love the description "stunt memoir", it's perfectly fitting for this type of book.

Kristen said...

Despite being a "stunt memoir" (love that term), this still sounds really interesting.

Dani in NC said...

I think the official term for this sort of book is "performance journalism", but I couldn't remember that when I was writing the review. I don't think "stunt memoir" is meant to be a derogatory term -- it describes perfectly a book that was written to chronicle a challenge undertaken for the specific purpose of writing about the results.