Announcing The Dish Book Club, Ctd

[Re-posted from earlier today]

In case you missed my announcement this week:

Well, it’s more like a resuscitation of the Book Club, since we had one more than a decade ago now. But the format will be the same. Each month, we’ll pick a book, and Dish readers are invited to read it alongside us. After three weeks, we’ll start debating it, through bookclub-beagle-trposts on the Dish and a reader thread fueled by your thoughts on the book. If the author is still alive, we’ll try and get him or her to do a podcast at the end (on Deep Dish) to answer some of the questions readers have raised and keep the conversation going.

If you’re like me, you find your time for book-reading increasingly constrained by our Googled minds and our overwhelmed lives. So think of this club, as I am, as an incentive to read alongside others the kind of book you might have passed on without the prompt of a Dish discussion.

Thus far, at least 450 readers have joined the book club by buying our first selection – Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God – through the Dish affiliate link. One of them:

Thanks for this. I’m in. And thank God for Kindle! Read your re-opening of the book club, I clicked the link to the Amazon page, clicked once more to purchase Ehrman’s book (you’re welcome for the penny of affiliate reward) and tonight at dinner I’m reading the book. Before Kindle (or ebooks in general) it would have taken at least forty-eight hours to go from intention to read a book to reading it, rather than the four hours it took me.

Truth is, I got the Kindle for travel. But now, I find physical books insufferable and almost unreadable. I mean, just from a practical standpoint. I’ve read during meals as long as I can remember being able to read. Lately, though, I honestly cannot remember how I used to keep physical books open while I read. I recently started a hardcover nonfiction book from the library, and at meals I wind up using a stone coaster to hold it open while I use fork and knife in two hands, and half the time the book flies closed and flings the coaster across the table and into plates of food. Whereas when I read the Kindle at the table, it just sits there, advancing a page neatly every time I touch it.

But we don’t want to leave out any dead-tree lovers, so the link to the hardcover is here. Another:

Long-time reader and recent subscriber. I have a quick question about your Book Club selection: Will you also be recommending Harper Collins’ companion book, How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature – A Response to Bart Ehrman?

Of course – we’re biased and balanced with all Dish content. Readers are encouraged to buy and discuss that book as well; the link is here. Another notes of Ehrman (who, by the way, has agreed to do a podcast with us):

Thanks for starting up the book club again, and for the selection. For agnostic/atheist/non-Christian readers who might be put off by the title, you might want to post this about Bart Ehrman:

ehrman_bart_12_020Ehrman became an Evangelical Christian as a teenager. In his books, he recounts his youthful enthusiasm as a born-again, fundamentalist Christian, certain that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error. His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and to textual criticism. During his graduate studies, however, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled. He remained a liberal Christian for fifteen years but later became an agnostic after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.

He’s a fascinating scholar, and his The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture is catnip for Bible geeks.

Another is skeptical of the new club:

Oh brother. I’ve done in-person book clubs before and, frankly, they drove me bananas.  Lots of people with prejudices getting in the way of, you know, the book. Hoping that a mediated online club will keep the dumbass quotient down.

During the week of Easter, after readers have had time to read the book, we will have a week-long discussion mediated and curated with just as much care as all of our reader threads. We will also provide a forum for unfiltered feedback and interaction between readers. Another:

Thank you very much for this feature. I was immediately excited when I read the title of the post, as I’ve been wanting to join a book how-jesus-became-godclub for awhile. My excitement diminished somewhat when I realized the first selection was a religious-themed title, as I am one of your atheist readers, but as usual you were very welcoming of the secular perspective. After reading more about the book‘s premise, I feel it will be very enlightening for non-believers as well, to see how belief movements are born and develop over time. We “nones” could no doubt learn a lot about how to steer our own community toward a brighter future. I regret that I will not be purchasing the book and contributing to the revenue stream (though I hope my above-the-minimum subscription makes up for that). Instead, I have requested the book from the library [others can do so here], and I’ll sadly have to put off starting The Bright Continent by Dayo Olopade, which I checked out after you first highlighted her work last month.

I understand you selecting the launch book, but I would love the opportunity to contribute to future book selections. Will you be soliciting nominations? Perhaps choosing a shortlist and posting a poll for Dishheads to vote on? Will the club be exclusively non-fiction or will you include fiction as well? If so what genres? Maybe there could be two clubs! Anyway, I look forward to participating.

In fact, we have already considered a reader poll of pre-selected titles, which we may do in the future. But for the second club next month, our guest-host Maria Popova will be making the book selection – and it’s a topic near and dear to most Dishheads, so stay tuned. Like every Dish feature, the book club will be an ever-evolving one, so your feedback is always welcome and appreciated.