What I’m Reading

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my attention seems to flit from thing to thing, so that it is not uncommon for me to be reading up to a dozen books at a time — not simultaneously obviously, but from one chapter of one book to a another chapter of another and so on. My chief virtue is not perseverance of attention, but perseverance at returning to what I have left behind. I am pretty tenacious when it comes to that. That said, here are the books I am working on and why:

Plato’s Republic — because I am teaching it in a class and writing both a book and blog on it.

The Book of Genesis — because that is the current subject of the Sunday School class I am teaching. The commentaries I am leaning on the most by the way are those by Walter Bruggemann and Leon Kass. One book that opened up a few things on this go through Genesis is Andy Crouch’s book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power.

Plato’s Phaedrus — for the same reason I am rereading the Republic.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright — because I read a review by somebody (Tyler Cowen maybe) that made it sound very interesting, which I wouldn’t have guessed based on the subject matter. It is in fact a gripping read.

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity In a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjofsson and Andrew McAfee — because I am interested in the topic generally; because I read some good reviews of it; because it bears on both political issues and the (dubious?) epistemology of projecting the future based on current trends.

The One By Whom Scandal Comes by Rene Girard — because it arrived in my mailbox and I am a Girardian.

Middlemarch by George Eliot — because I am leading a reading group on it, a wonderfully committed group of about twenty who meet in my living room every other week to discuss Eliot’s masterpiece.

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders — because Saunders is a recently discovered interest, after reading a very positive review of his latest book in the New York Times Book Review recently. Satirical stories that are a lot of fun to read.

A Place in the Country by W.G. Sebald — because I am a huge fan of Sebald’s work. This is one that I started reading at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris a couple of month ago. I didn’t buy it then because I thought that I could just buy it in the States and wouldn’t have to lug it. Well, it wasn’t yet in print in the States! Now it is — I just received it — and it reminds me why I like Sebald so much. His prose is so subtle and understated (which is pretty much the opposite of Saunders by the way, whose dialogue is over-the-top in a good sense.)

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