Friday, February 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes: The books I'm reading

~~ 1 ~~
I am in the middle of a shockingly large number of books right now, so I've decided to make them this week's 7QT. It will almost certainly be more interesting than another post about how I need to go grocery shopping (I do) and I'm tired and disorganized (I am).

~~ 2 ~~
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity" by Andrew Solomon. This book investigates what happens when parents have children that are very different from the children the parents expected. Usually, Solomon says, children get "vertical identities" from their parents--black parents have black children, etc. But when a child has a "horizontal identity" that he doesn't share with his parents, it can be hard for his parents to deal with that. Solomon talks about different kinds of horizontal identities, such as autism, deafness, criminality, and transgender issues. What to change? What to accept? I've only read the first chapter or so, but am intrigued.

~~ 3 ~~
The Theology of Food: Eating and the Eucharist by Angel Mendez-Montoya (sorry, I don't know how to make accents in this text editor). This one is for a class. The topic is interesting: What do we learn about the Eucharist when we explore it as a food? What does how and what we (as humans) eat reveal about the Eucharist? There are some interesting insights here, but they are frequently buried underneath popular platitudes (for instance, about accepting differences--not that this is bad, but cliches aren't interesting theology). I may have more positive things to say when I'm done; there is, for instance, a chapter about transubstantiation that I haven't gotten to yet.

~~ 4 ~~
The Anatomy of Anorexia by Steven Levenkrom. I bought this book for $1 at a bookstore because I had time to kill and it looked interesting. It is interesting. I don't know enough about it to know whether it is correct. He's talking a lot about societal and personal factors that lead to the development of anorexia, but so far he's said very little about what makes some girls actually succumb to this pressure while some are able to resist. Again, he may address this later.

~~ 5 ~~
Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri, translated by Robert and Jean Hollander. Another book for class. I tried to read the Divine Comedy in high school (different translation), but became one of those people Dante scholars complain about who gets bored halfway through Purgatorio. This time I intend to make it all the way through! If nothing else, the pressure to not fail will force me to. In all seriousness, though, I am enjoying this. I can't comment on the translation, but the notes are generally helpful in providing historical and biographical background. They are woefully inadequate when it comes to the theology, unfortunately; for instance, some very obvious Biblical references are missing. But it reads smoothly and is (according to people who read Italian) a very accurate translation. Plus it has the Italian on the facing page, so I can use my Latin to pretend that I read Italian.

~~ 6 ~~
The Jewish Study Bible. Is this cheating? Don't know, don't care. I am reading it, even if not all the way through. Maybe I should have called this "Exodus and Leviticus." We are focusing on the construction of the Tabernacle. Interesting and helpful notes. Fascinating to read a Bible whose notes refer nearly exclusively to Jewish thinkers.

~~ 7 ~~
The Brethren by John Grisham. Okay, this is definitely cheating. I read the first chapter so that I had a 7th book to include. I picked this up off one of the give-a-book-take-a-book shelves (to which I owe quite a few books by now...) because a friend of mine had mentioned he wanted to know what I thought of Grisham. So far I'm not impressed, but we'll see how it goes.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!