Monday, November 30, 2009

SBL Retrospective: The Books

I wish to report that, despite the load I carried back with me in my carry-on luggage, I am still "on the wagon", more or less:
  • The top 4 books (the Loeb edition of Josephus) I brought with me to SBL.
  • The bottom 4 were donations from publishers, who evidently hope I will adopt them as textbooks or recommend them to my students.
  • The 3 paperbacks underneath Josephus I purchased as gifts.
  • The 3 commentaries in the middle I purchased for my own library, which is a bit strange given my love-hate relationship with commentaries. They can be justified under an admittedly broad interpretation of the fine print at the end of my new year's resolution, since I expect to use all 3 in my teaching next semester.
      As I wandered the bookstalls deciding what not to purchase, and sat in 2.5 hour book review sessions, I also considered how I want my book-buying and reading habits to change over the long term once this year is through. Some initial thoughts:

  • In the midst of everything else I get to do, I need to develop the discipline of reading widely in (and out of) my field:

    1. Reading in subjects I have to teach and for current research projects take top priority.
    2. Classics take precedence over the latest "important" monographs. If they are *really* important, they will still be worth reading a few years down the road.

  • I want book-buying to work for me: Instead of purchasing a bunch of "important" books at a discount, and never reading them, it is better to pay full price, and only purchase a new book when an old one is complete. (Of course, it is not necessary to purchase every book one reads.)

  • Other suggestions?


    Eric said...

    This is a great series of posts, David. If we're going to be scholars who bear fruit that last, we're going to have to work within the paradigms of thought and action which are around us - and rebel against them at the same time. It's not easy.

    Isaac said...

    You might read a few books that your students may have read or come under the influence of through their home church.