Saturday, April 26, 2008

What I'm Reading

Reading recently...

I got my first job away from home (as a cataloguer of Latin books at Duke University Library's Rare Book Room) because I knew the difference between juvenilia (works by and about teens and young adults) and Juvenalia (works by and about the Roman writer Juvenal). But I'd never read Juvenal. So I found a half-price copy of the Satires and read them on the bus to and fro each day. Pretty caustic, often funny, pretty sad as far as the state of upper-class Roman society at its peak, and very instructive as to what Roman life and attitudes were like. I excused spending time on this because I'll teach ancient philosophy in the fall.

There's a warhorse standard introduction to Hindu thought that I've had for a while, Outlines of Indian Philosophy, by Hiriyanna. I finally hauled it out, and it's my current bus book.

I am very slowly making my way through the last few chapters of Randall Collins's Sociology of Philosophies, which shows how groups of people generate ideas and how ideas generate groups of people. Total command of an enormous global literature. At the other end of social-scientific assessments of philosophy, I'm reading the marvelously-named Ben-Ami Scharfstein's The Philosophers: Their Lives and the Nature of Their Work, which takes a psychological approach. It deals with philosophers' biographies, and personal reasons why this or that aspect of their work appealed or made sense to them as it did.

My bedtime book is Mere Christianity, which I have not reread in a long time. No, it's not perfect, and Lewis shouldn't be idolized. It's still better than almost anything else out there trying to do the same thing: reach skeptical people with a thoughtful presentation of Christianity.

I've stopped reading Augustine's City of God after Book XI or whatever, where he ends his critique of ancient philosophy and pagan religion, and begins a tour of religious history and theological development. I've picked up Confessions again instead, which I last read all the way through in college.

For sanity I watch John Stewart and occasionally flip open Stephen Colbert's I Am America. I was rereading John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces, but that has been crowded out by work-related reading. It's still the funniest book ever written, for a Southerner anyway. Imagine the novel Toole (who committed suicide in the mid-60s) would have written in his old age (he'd be 75 or more now) about the Katrina fiasco.

I hope to read some fiction in between spring term and summer school. We'll see. Everything put off needs to be done then, too, so who knows what there'll actually be time for.


Blogger some chick said...

Good night! And I'm just trying to get through Jim Wallis' "God's Politics: Why the Right is Wrong and Why the Left Doesn't Get It." And I consider *that* heavy reading.

12:09 PM  

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