Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Five books I've read. No, make that five I haven't read.

Will Baude wants to know five books I'm ashamed not to have read. Before encountering the Core Curriculum (and before paddling away from "Dawson's Creek") I might have come up with a list of five books that I'd read, period. Slight exaggeration, but only slight. Now, the situation is much improved, but coming up with five should be no problem at all. I'm not including the vast number of classics I should have read (Anna Karenina, The Republic...) but haven't, because that's not especially interesting, and I'll get to them when the time comes, which will be soon enough:

1) La France Juive by Edouard Drumont: The formative text of French antisemitism--and all-encompassing political antisemitism--was a bestseller in late 19th century France, and had a huge impact on everything I study. I need to find a copy and read the thing, not just segments, which is where I'm at right now.

2) Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah by Gershom Sholem: Super-fascinating stuff, about this dude who, during the 1600s, convinced half the Jews around the world that he was the messiah. Professor Menachem Brinker talked about this in class, and I've been meaning to read it since. I don't know if I'd say I'm ashamed not to have read it, since it's not exactly a classic and it has no direct relation to what I study, but it's just something I ought to read.

3) Jean Santeuil, by Marcel Proust: Supposedly all about the Dreyfus Affair, but I can't remember if I've read any of it or not. It's not supposed to be his best work (hard to do if you've written A la recherche du temps perdu) but still, I should read it.

4) Various study guides for standardized tests: I passed the Stuy test effortlessly, which led to arrogance, which led to some scores that, while not embarassing, would probably have been higher had I actually paid attention to whatever Kaplan or Princeton Review had to say on the matter.

5) The Bible (both testaments) plus the Koran (buy one, get one free?!): Because the Great Awakening of the College Students is coming, and I want to be prepared, but also because it's a biggie, it's referenced everywhere, and as much as I'd like to be able to say I'd read Ulysses, if this is a triage situation, the Bible must come first.

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