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Monday, December 20, 2010

January reading: Douglass, Genesis, Chabon

The Deedle Deedle Dees will be beginning an ambitious year for our book club on January 1st. We'll not only be tackling texts related to our "Sing and Read the Civil War's 150th with the Deedle Deedle Dees" project, but also checking out some of our -- and our fans' -- favorite books about New York City in connection with the first performances of our stage musical, Major Deegan, How Ya Feelin'?

Here's what's on the itinerary for January:

My Life and My Bondage by Frederick Douglass - The first of our monthly Civil War selections. We'll be reading a different book every month throughout the five-year commeration of the war, many of them related to the histories of women, slaves and free blacks, new immigrants, and others whose stories aren't always given as much attention as military and political matters. Here's a link to the Kindle version: You can also find this online for free -- or read the paper version like I will be.

The Old Testament - In 2011, I'm reading the entire Old Testament. There are many reasons why I've decided to include the OT in our Civil War study. Here are a few:

- As much of our study will center around the songs that were popular during the Civil War era, I want to better understand the sources of these tunes, many of which are religious. The most obvious examples of this are probably the many spirituals that refer directly to the Exodus story and other Biblical narratives.

-The Civil War generation knew the Bible. People of all ages, classes, and races were familiar with the stories in the Bible -- even people who didn't know how to read. I think understanding the Bible is important for understanding how these people thought.

- The Bible and the various systems of belief connected to it formed the basis of how people viewed death -- a constant, daily reality for the people who lived through the Civil War.

- I've been wanting to read the OT in its entirety for a while. The Civil War's anniversary is a good excuse to do so.

I'm going to be alternating between this edition and the King James. The former has great annotations. The King James is what Lincoln read.

I'm going to use this plan to discipline my reading so that I can finish in a year It looks as good as any other, but if there's another you've used that you'd recommend, let me know.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon - The first of our monthly New York-related books, this is a great antidote to the January / winter / back-to-school-and-work blues. It's about fighting the Nazis, dealing with the Holocaust, creating comic books, living in NYC, surviving as a gay man in far less tolerant time, performing Houdini-esque escapes, and much more.