Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Books on Fall Break

I’m on a fall break from teaching right now (although the 6-day hiatus from school for Hurricane Ike was really my fall break), so figured I’d highlight some books out this fall/winter that I've read, am reading, or will read.

First, some of the latest Du Bois: I'm really looking forward to The Souls of W.E.B. Du Bois: New Essays and Reflections, due out in January with Mercer University Press. Ed Blum and Jason Young edit what I think will be a stellar collection of essays.

Also, literary scholar and college administrator Brian Johnson just published W.E.B. Du Bois: Toward Agnosticism, 1868-1934 with Rowman & Littlefield. Johnson's great Du Bois reader, Du Bois on Reform, has been helpful in my research, and of course I'm looking forward to reading about Du Bois the agnostic in light of already reading about Du Bois as an American prophet. You can bet there will be some future blog posts on these books.

I read Cornel West's new book over the weekend, Hope on a Tightrope. It is a book for the everyday, ordinary reader and showcases West’s prophetic reflections about social justice and Christian ethics. It is a good read, with glossy, slick photos of West throughout the years. The book is apparently published with one of Tavis Smiley’s companies, and has a companion CD with Smiley interviewing West and selections from some of West’s spoken word projects.

There is nothing really new in the book, and I think this will give West’s critics more ammunition that he doesn’t write weighty academic tomes (or at least hasn’t in a while). That said, I think it is commendable that he writes and speaks as a public intellectual, and his voice is surely one of the gadflies of our age. Hope on a Tightrope is the perennial and prophetic West at his lyrical best. I understand now that West is working on his memoir, which I can’t wait to read.

I saw an ad for the book From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor. Looks really interesting, and there are several such books like this one, such as Life On the Tenure Track and many from the University of Chicago Press. I’ve not read From Student to Scholar yet, but here’s an interview with the book’s author Steve Cahn.

The final book I’d like to mention is Barbara Dianne Savage’s Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion, just out with Harvard University Press. I’ve been waiting for this book for a while, having read Savage’s earlier article on Du Bois, democracy, and religion. Paul Harvey compares Savage’s book to Curtis Evans’s The Burden of Black Religion, so I can't wait to read each side by side. Also, Curtis has agreed to a blog interview about his book, so look for that in the future.

What new books are you reading, or do you suggest to put on the reading list?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention another book I'm reading--Gerardo Marti's Hollywood Faith: Holiness, Prosperity and Ambition at a Hollywood Church. This is a good book. Marti's ideas are clear and profound, ethnography thick and descriptive, and writing accessible. From sermons, to church architecuture, to the fabric of everyday belief and ordinary faith, Marti gives readers and up-close-and-personal look at one Hollywood church. The book has a great cover, too.

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Thanks for the list of books. I'm always looking for something new and interesting to read. You mention a few I plan to check out.

I have two good books I'd like to mention, though neither are new. The first is OUT OF OUR MINDS by Ken Robinson. Robinson talks about creativity, why its important and how to foster it. Good read. The second, which I'm currently reading, is INTELLIGENCE REFRAMED by Howard Gardner. Gardner's take on multiple intelligences provides some fascinating insights into man and his mind. Both are great reads for educators.

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Phil, I finished Cavanaugh, "Being Consumed" a month or so back, then "Subverting Global Myths" by Vinoth Ramachandra. Both outstanding. Now nearly halfway into into Newbigin, The Open Secret. Chapter 5 and 6 are excellent, and I have a feeling he is gathering steam.

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