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Friday, April 22, 2011

My Reading Life*

I went to Twitter this morning to post my #fridayreads and noticed that some people were using the amended hashtag #goodfridayreads. Some people say it's in regard to Good Friday others say it's Goodreads. Whatever the case may be it got me thinking. My reads during holy week should be a bit more, well, holy. I'm currently reading a fantastic middle-grade fantasy/fairytale by Catherynne M. Valente called "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland" but I'll talk more about it when it comes out next month. All of this leads me to today's post: I'm usually a one-book-at-a-time kind of lady, but I've got a little book polygamy going on this year. It's all because...

I'm finally doing it! I'm reading arguably the most culturally important book in the western world. You probably have a copy in your house even if you haven't read it (I have six) - it's The Holy Bible. When I told John I was going to be writing about the Bible today he said "are you going to review it? Because you could start with 'really impressive debut!'" and knowing that I'm currently working on the Old Testament he added "and I'm looking forward to the sequel." My husband being a cute and funny idiot aside, no, I am not reviewing the Bible. Who would even want to try? Moreso, I want to write about my experience.

I was raised in a religious household, so I've always been familiar with the Bible; I've even read various bits and pieces throughout the years, but I've never read it through. A few months ago I searched and researched looking for the right study Bible for me. In a philosophy class in school I was introduced to Robert Alter's translations. I can tell you from both a scholarly and spiritual reading perspective they are awesome. Trouble is, he hasn't translated the whole thing. I've got the books he has translated to read later, but for now I wanted the whole thing. I wanted to watch the spine break and hear it groan as I made my way through this 2,000+ page trek, so I kept looking.

I finally settled on "The Harper Collins Study Bible" in the New Revised Standard Version. This particular study Bible is well suited , much like Alter's translation, both to spiritual and scholarly study. Having grown up Southern Baptist it was hard to leave King James behind, but I'm sure you will be happy to know that this translation totally lacks the word begat. Everyone is the better for that.

I've only just finished Exodus (hint: that's only the second book) and at the rate I'm going (five chapters a day, which averages just under ten double columned pages) I'll finish in a year. This is a grand endeavor and I'm really glad I've started it. Every book I read I approach with the goal of bettering myself from having read it. This book just happens to be meant for that. Plus, my dad is really proud of me, so there's that. The only downside is that now all I really want to talk about is the Bible and people are starting to think I'm a weirdo. So, should you want to go on this journey with me - please do! I am dying to talk to someone about it, and difficult tasks are always made easier through the buddy system!

*Yes, I stole that phrase from Pat Conroy's new memoir. But it's perfect!


  1. The Harper Study Bible was the one I had through high school and college. Having had a Sunday School teacher that opened up the Cosmos for me, I have never lost my fascination for this amazing book. I see that this was written in 2011, so I do wonder if you got past Exodus. The deadly boredom of so much of the Bible has always had me puzzled, and I've had to have guides, CS Lewis being one I trust.

    1. I did make it past Exodus! In fact, I made it all the way through. I agree with you about the necessity of a good guide, which was on thing that made settling on the right Bible so difficult. I was very happy with the Harper Collins edition. For those of us who enjoy reading books it takes time to digest, the Bible really is the ultimate work to dive in to.



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