2018 Reading the Bible as Literature Event

Welcome to the Sign-Up Post for the 2018 Reading the Bible Event!

About the Event: The Christian bible is one of the most influential texts in western literature. As someone who reads literature for pleasure/edification and who teaches Literature in English at the college level, I frequently re-familiarize myself with many historically rich texts from a variety of mythologies and cultures.

As such, I’ve read the Christian bible many times, but only twice from cover-to-cover. I usually revisit specific passages depending on what I’m working on at the time, or which political/philosophical debate I’m getting into, etc. For 2018, I thought another cover-to-cover read through, with company this time, would be helpful and fun!

As a special note, I will be reading the bible as literature and crafting my posts as such. This challenge is not specific to nor exclusively meant for Christians; instead, it is for readers who are interested in learning more about a very important text in the western canon. As such, I invite anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of faith or lack thereof. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu, Agnostic, Mormon, Humanist? Come along!

What I would love is a lively and spirited discussion of the stories, philosophies, history, and cultural issues. We might discuss allegory, parables, comparative religion, metaphor, and symbolism to name just a few topics. The text will be treated respectfully and the discussions will follow in that same spirit — disparaging remarks about anyone’s beliefs will not be tolerated (and therefore all comments will be moderated). We’ll do our best!

1403190609407R48R5tYI’ll be reading from The Holy Bible: King James Version (KJV), illustrated by Gustave Doré and published by Barnes & Noble, but you can feel free to read any version you’d like. There are many newer editions that are much more “readable,” in my opinion. Keep in mind, of course, some textual changes have resulted in meaning changes as well, and of course the contemporary versions lose some of the poetic qualities.

 

The Reading Plan

  • January: Genesis 1 through Exodus 40
  • February: Leviticus 1 through Deuteronomy 4
  • March: Deuteronomy 5 through 1 Samuel 17
  • April: 1 Samuel 18 through 1 Chronicles 2
  • May: 1 Chronicles 3 through Esther 10
  • June: Job 1 through Psalms 89
  • July: Psalms 90 through Isaiah 17
  • August: Isaiah 18 through Ezekiel 8
  • September: Ezekiel 9 through Zechariah 14
  • October: Malachi 1 through Luke 18
  • November: Luke 19 through 1 Corinthians 8
  • December: 1 Corinthians 9 through Revelations 22

Details:

I will be reading the above list of titles during the months given. Furthermore, on the last day of each month (so, beginning December 31st 2017 for January 2018), a list of passages will be given for daily reading. This is really just to make it easier on myself; I find I can keep up with reading the bible, especially the rather dull bits, if I do a little bit every day. So, I’ll share this list with all participants every month & will base my weekly and monthly check-in posts on those daily goals.

Every Sunday: I’ll post my thoughts on the passages that I read that week, with some discussion questions, favorite quotes, questions, literary references that come to mind, etc. I hope these Sunday posts will encourage discussion among those who are also reading along at a similar pace.

Month’s End: I will post an update with the books/verses that I read during the previous month and list the readings (chapter and verse) for the upcoming month in a “readings per day” format. My goal is to read about the same amount each day, week, and month, but you can do whatever you want! I hope these monthly posts will be another place for everyone to discuss their experience with the readings.

Details:

  • Comment on this post if you’d like to join in.
  • Read along with me in a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule (whatever works for you) and participate in discussion as much or as little as you like.
  • Post your thoughts on the bible readings somewhere on your blog, Tumblr, Goodreads account, or in the comments on any given post.
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Dewey’s #Readathon Updates!

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Today, I’m participating in Dewey’s 24-hour readathon. Haven’t heard of it? Find all you need to know right here!

UPDATE 3: 10:30PM (HOUR 16)

Books Completed: 2.5

Pages Read:

UPDATE 2: 2:30PM (HOUR 8)

  • Books Completed: 1.5
  • Pages Read: 462
  • Current Read: The Long Walk  by Stephen King
  • Other: I’m still going! Have had to do some other things, like quick grocery shopping, laundry, and, uh, eating meals? I haven’t completed as many books as I would’ve liked, but that’s mainly because I picked the King book third, which is the longest (nearly 400 pages). Probably should’ve picked two shorter ones instead. Oh well!

UPDATE: 10AM (Heading into Hour 4)

  • Books Completed: 1 – We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  • Pages Read: 56
  • Current Read: Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Sustenance: Oatmeal with blueberries + Iced Coffee!

Post 1: Kick-Off Meme (8:13am)

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Chicago, Illinois, USA!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

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ALL OF THEM. I’m not sure, actually. I’m nearly finished with We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, which is very interesting. So, up next, I think I’ll move to Robert Cormier because he’s also kind of creepy but fun? And usually his stuff = super fast reads, and I want to kick off the day with a win! I’ve got my stack pictured, here, but I also have the complete LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS from Penguin on deck, just in case. In the pile, now, are: Stephen King’s The Long Walk, Robert Cormier’s After the First Death, Chuck Palahniuk’s Stranger Than Fiction, Penelope Fitzgerald’s Offshore, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

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Once again, ALL OF THEM. Haha. Part of the fun of today is the snacks. I’ll be sneaking in an hour-long workout later today, though, to re-energize and to burn off some of the not-so-healthy snacking I might be doing.

I try to go health-ish (and delicious), but, you know, things happen. 😉

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’ve been blogging for 7 years. I’m also the Classic Literature Expert for About.com. I’m currently completing my PhD in English (writing my dissertation) so I’ve stepped away from blogging this year – but I’ll be back! And I couldn’t miss today.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Yes, I participated last time and barely read anything, partly because I joined at the last minute and hadn’t thought about all the things I needed to do that day. Today, I’m ready to go!

Classics Club Readathon #ccreadathon

ccreadathon2Today, I’m participating in the Classic Club’s second annual Classics Readathon.  I plan to return to this post throughout the next 24-hours and make updates (as I feel like it), and also to update it at the end of the 24-hours, which would be 8am Sunday morning, for me.  I’ll give a note on my progress, take a look at how many total pages I read, where I stand in each my books, etc.  Very exciting!

Here’s our kick-off prompt and my responses:

  1. Name and Blog:  I’m Adam of Roof Beam Reader!
  2. Snacks and Beverages of Choice: Uh, see above. Mostly chocolate.
  3. Where are you reading from today? Chicago, Illinois, USA!
  4. What are your goals for the Readathon?:  I hope to make a good dent in the three chunkster books I’m reading this month. I doubt I’ll finish any of them, but I want to get at least 100 pages of each knocked out. If I do that, maybe I’ll try to plow through one short book, just to knock something off my list early in the year. :)
  5. What book(s) are you planning on reading?:  Ulysses by James Joyce; Walt Whitman’s America by David S. Reynolds; and The Complete Poems by Walt Whitman.  Each of these is 600-900 pages, so, yeah, I won’t finish them, but I think I can definitely make some good progress.
  6. Are you excited?: Uhm, yeah!  I’m going to post a readathon journal entry on my blog sometime today with my starting point for each book, and then some updates throughout the day, as well as a final page count/ending point for each book – that way I can accurately track just how much reading I did, how far I got with each book, etc.  I’m just going to update that one post throughout the day, though, so that my readers don’t get spammed all day long with multiple posts.  Good luck to you all!

Update 1: 8:30pm local time (Central US). 

Although I have taken quite a few breaks, today, to exercise, shower, eat, and run out for some errands (we are expecting 10+ inches of snow and temperatures nearly 20 degrees below zero in the next few days), I think I’m making some good strides.

I’ve read 150 pages of Ulysses, putting me 50 pages beyond my goal mark for that book, and leaving me with just 3 episodes left to complete the entire book!  Thrilled about that.  Also, I read 100 pages of Leaves of Grass, hitting my goal with that one, too.  So, I just need to try to read 100 pages of Walt Whitman’s America and I will have successfully achieved what I set out to do with this readathon.  Hope I don’t fall asleep or give up!  My eyes are pretty tired (and my brain is rather mushy after 150 pages of Ulysses, let’s be honest).

Update 2: Midnight

I only managed to get through one chapter of Walt Whitman’s America.  Distracted by too many other things! But I did a lot of reading today, especially with Ulysses, so I’m good with that.  Here’s my favorite excerpt from today’s reading:

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.

–Walt Whitman (from “Song of the Open Road”)

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Book 1: Walt Whitman’s America by David S. Reynolds

Starting Page: 81 of 704

Ending Page: 111

Total Pages Read: 30

Book 2: The Complete Poems by Walt Whitman

Starting Page: 125 of 912

Ending Page: 245 of 912

Total Pages Read: 120

Book 3: Ulysses by James Joyce

Starting Page: 350 of 657

Ending Page: 501 of 657

Total Pages Read: 151

So, even though I didn’t read 100 pages from each of my books, I still read 301 total pages – which, I think, is a success! Yay!

TKAM Read-Along: Part 1 (Ch. 1-11) (#MockingbirdReads)

pp-mockingbird3Hi, Everyone!

This is the first check-in post for our read-along of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In this post, we cover chapters 1-11 (or “Part One” of the book).

Check-in #2 will cover chapters 12-21 and will go live on Thurs., July 25th.

Check-in #3 (or final review) will cover chapters 22-31 and will go live on Weds., July 31st.

If you want to link-up your own thoughts, your answers to my questions (below), or, eventually, a review of the book, you can do so at This Post. You can also still sign-up to join us in this read-along by visiting This Post

Participation is totally voluntary, of course. Linking-up to your check-in posts and “registering” is just a way for those of us who are reading the book to visit one another, see what we all think, and engage in some fun conversations about this piece of classic American literature.  I’m sure we’ll all have different experiences with this one, and I look forward to reading your thoughts!

Summary of Part One:

At the beginning of the book, we meet our narrator, Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch, as well as her older brother, Jeremy Atticus (“Jem”) Finch.  Scout is entering the first grade and her brother is almost ten, but they seem to be close friends and playmates, despite the age difference and differences of temperament. Scout is a tomboy who does not take kindly to be called a “girl” and Jem seems to be something of the All-American boy type.  He respects his father, Atticus, immensely, and wants to be a gentlemen, just like his dad.  We also meet their friend, Charles Baker (“Dill”) Harris, who stays with his aunt, Miss Rachel.  We later learn that he might not have much of a permanent home at all – he is creative, dramatic, and imaginative, and he becomes obsessed with the mystery of Scout & Jem’s neighbor, Arthur “Boo” Radley.

In this first part, Jem and Scout (and sometimes Dill) are at the center of the story.  We readers see much of their world, Maycomb, through their eyes – but we see more clearly the racism, myths, and legends than they do, and particularly more than Scout as she is so young and in many ways quite naive. The child’s play (and especially the presence of Dill) seems to be the central focus – youth, innocence, and playfulness.  There are hints, as the chapters go along, of darker things to come – which leads me to believe that this will be a coming-of-age story for both Scout and Jem.

Some of the other interesting interactions include Scout’s relationships at school, both with her classmates and with her teacher.  Scout shows herself to be quite bright, thanks to instruction from her father, but the teacher is clearly threatened by her intelligence and her ability to read.  Jem is balancing between childhood and adulthood, viewing his father in ways that Scout can’t, yet.  He still grasps childhood in many ways, as demonstrated by his playtime with Dill and Scout, but he longs to know more about and be more like his father, Atticus. 

The mystery of Boo Radley is dangled in front of the reader in many ways, but mostly through a child’s somewhat mystified view.  There is no clear reason given to us to fear Boo Radley, but his private nature, the history of his father and family, and the supernatural wonderment of childhood in general all help to construct an eerie, ominous aura around his character.  Some of the more clear-headed and just adults, like Atticus and Miss Maudie, try to help guide the children toward compassion and hint at deeper troubles in the Radley family’s past. 

Near the end of Part One, a fire takes Miss Maudie’s house and threatens the entire neighborhood.  Though Miss Maudie takes the events in stride, this fire seems to be a turning-point of sorts.  Immediately afterward, Scout  begins to learn more about what her father does for a living, and about the troubling case he will soon be involved with (as a lawyer).  People’s darker natures – racism, bigotry, and ignorance- begin to show, and in such a way that Scout, who is growing up, can begin to comprehend and feel threatened by it.  The trial of Tom Robinson is clearly going to change Scout’s world forever. 

My Thoughts:

Well, the first eleven chapters cover approximately two years, which is already a departure from what I remembered of my first read, years ago. I thought the entire book took place during one summer.  Oops!  I also remembered the book being narrated entirely from a child’s (Scout’s) point of view, but while it is Scout’s POV, the narrative voice seems to fluctuate between adult, past tense, and childlike in-the-moment, such as in dialogue.  This is interesting – it really does make it feel like an adult’s recollection of her childhood, which is exactly what the narrative is. 

I’m also enjoying the narrative structure more than I remembered (or perhaps more than I was able to appreciate the first time).  The use of ellipses in Scout’s tales of Boo Radley, for instance, create an interesting sense of positive mystery.  We learn that Boo is probably the one responsible for doing nice things for the kids, such as mending Jem’s pants and creating soap figurines of Scout and Jem, but this is never implicitly stated.  It adds a complexity to the story, a sort of guessing game that makes us sympathize with Boo (in a way that Atticus and Miss Maudie probably do) without even having met him, yet.  

Finally, I really enjoy the gothic elements of this story.  It was not something I remembered at all, and I rarely see it talked about.  We get the sense of the gothic from the legends and secret tales of Boo Radley (all great gothic stories have ancient and scary word-of-mouth tales at their core), and also the superstitions that fill Part One.  These are all childlike in nature, so it may be something that fades away in the rest of the book, but I enjoy it here.  The gothic mood is intensified with the extraordinarily cold temperatures and snow that arrive in Maycomb for the first time in anyone’s memory (an exhausted technique, but still wonderful!), the fire, and the mad dog (which reminded me of something out of E.A. Poe).  All of this, I think, leads up to the danger that will be Tom Robinson’s trial.  

Overall, I’m enjoying To Kill a Mockingbird quite a bit – much more than I did when I read it the first time, about 5 or so years ago.  I still find the prose somewhat dry, but I love the characters and I’m interested to see how the rest of the book will compare to this “Part One,” which is clearly constructed to present a childlike “before” picture to what will be happening “after.”  

Questions:

“When we were small, Jem and I confined our activities to the southern neighborhood, but when I was well into the second grade at school and tormenting Boo Radley became passé, the business section of Maycomb drew us frequently up the street past the real property of Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose”  (114).

1. What are your impressions of Scout as narrator?  We know she is young, but clearly the narrative voice is quite sophisticated. Do you see any conflicts or problems with this?  Or do you find it effective?


“[Miss Caroline] discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste.  Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interfere with my reading” (19).

2.  This book, though perhaps most widely known for its statements about equality and civil rights, also clearly has something to say about education.  Given what we know about Scout’s “learning,” her teacher’s reprimands, and the state of children such as the Ewells, what does To Kill a Mockingbird seem to say about education? What are the other (higher?) priorities?


“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (32).

3.  And, just for fun:  Who is your favorite character so far?  Least favorite?  Why?


The Beats of Summer: A Reading Event! (Sign-Up Post)

Welcome to the sign-up post for:

BeatsOfSummer-ButtonThe Beats of Summer: A Reading Event!

Summertime is coming, and what better time than Summer to immerse ourselves in the works of the most rebellious, daring, and “hot” generation of American writers??

For this event, the goal is to read as many pieces of “Beat Generation” literature as you want to, from June 1st through July 14th. Audiobooks, fiction, poetry, and non-fiction all count, as long as the writer is considered to be a part of the Beat Generation.  Memoirs, biographies, essays, theory/criticism or other works of non-fiction written about The Beats are also acceptable!

Update: We are looking for volunteers to provide Guest Posts and/or offer Giveaways throughout the event. If you would be interesting in participating in this capacity, please fill out This Form. And Thanks!

What is the Beat Generation?

“In American in the 1950s, a new cultural and literary movement staked its claim on the nation’s consciousness. The Beat Generation was never a large movement in terms of sheer numbers, but in influence and cultural status they were more visible than any other competing aesthetic. The Beat Generation saw runaway capitalism as destructive to the human spirit and antithetical to social equality. In addition to their dissatisfaction with consumer culture, the Beats railed against the stifling prudery of their parents’ generation. The taboos against frank discussions of sexuality were seen as unhealthy and possibly damaging to the psyche. In the world of literature and art, the Beats stood in opposition to the clean, almost antiseptic formalism of the early twentieth century Modernists. They fashioned a literature that was more bold, straightforward, and expressive than anything that had come before.”  –The Literature Network

I will post throughout the event to  discuss different subjects related to The Beat Generation, its writers, and its influences on later movements in literature, film, and music, as well as my own reviews of the Beat Generation books that I finish.  I will also be offering giveaways, and I am hopeful that some participants will be interested in writing guest posts or hosting giveaways of their own, to make this more interactive!

Below is a  list of writers and works of The Beat Generation.  This list is by no means comprehensive, it is simply a starting point.

Major Writers:
Richard Brautigan
William S. Burroughs
Neal Cassady
Gregory Corso
Diane DiPrima
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Allen Ginsberg
John Clellon Holmes
Joyce Johnson
Hettie Jones
Jack Kerouac
Joanne Kyger
Gary Snyder
Carl Solomon

Important Works:
Dharma Bums
Gasoline (poetry)
Howl (poetry)
Minor Characters (memoir)
Naked Lunch
On the Road
Queer
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (memoir)

Affiliated Writers/Biographers:
James Campbell (This is the Beat Generation)
Carolyn Cassady (Off the Road)
Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
Brenda Knight (Women of the Beat Generation)
Matt Theado (The Beats: A Literary Reference)
Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test)

In the meantime, if you would like to host a giveaway or provide a guest post, please: CLICK HERE.

And if you want to sign-up to participate in The Beats of Summer (yay!), just leave a comment on this post saying YOU’RE IN! Maybe include some of the books you hope to read.  I plan to read Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, Howl by Allen Ginsberg, and Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac.

Please also post the button somewhere on your blog (in an announcement post or in your blog’s side-bar) so that we can spread the word, gather excitement, and encourage participation.  It goes without saying that this is meant to be a positive, fun, and educational event – it’s an at-will project, so negativity is a no-go!

Sign-ups are open from now through June 15th.  If you sign-up after June 15th, you can still absolutely participate, but you may not be eligible for some of the early giveaway prizes.

To Share/Discuss on Twitter, Use Hashatag #BeatsOfSummer