SUNDAY SHOUT-OUT: ZEALOT & ENCYCLOPEDIA PARANOIACA

SHOUTOUT

Is there ever such a thing as too many books? I don’t think there are too many books to read, but there can definitely be too many to review. Often I’m sent books and, with an already sagging review shelf, these unsolicited books often end being overlooked – I just can’t fit them in to my schedule. Sunday Shout-Out aims to acknowledge these books and the publishers who have sent them to me.

Sunday Shout-Out is a bookish meme hosted by Monique of Write Note Reviews. If you’re a book blogger and you want to join in, just:

  • Share the title, author, blurb and image from a book (or more than one) you want to acknowledge
  • Share the genre, price and link to the publisher so readers can follow up if they like the sound of the book
  • Ping back to Write Note Reviews in your post.

1. Encyclopedia Paranoiaca by Henry Beard & Christopher Cerf (non-fiction RRP $50) – published by Duckworth Overlook

In Encyclopedia Paranoiaca, master satirists Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf have assembled an authoritative, disturbingly comprehensive, and utterly debilitating inventory of things poised to harm, maim, or kill you – all of them based on actual research about the perils of everyday life. Beard and Cerf cite convincing evidence that everyday things we consider healthy – eating leafy greens, flossing, washing our hands – are actually harmful, and items we thought were innocuous – drinking straws, flip-flops, neckties, skinny jeans – pose life-threatening dangers. Did you know that nearly ten thousand people are sent to A&E each year because of escalator accidents? And if you’re crossing your legs right now, you’re definitely at serious risk… And you don’t even want to know what’s on your office mug right now… Guaranteed to make asteroid impacts, planetary pandemics and global warming look like a walk in the park (which is also emphatically not recommended).

I’ve flicked through this book and read some unusual, wacky and disturbing entries. It’s not something I’d read all the way through but I think it would be an amusing book for those who love off-beat facts. It’d even be a good toilet read … but wait … on p223 there is a lengthy description of why reading on the toilet is dangerous, so perhaps that’s not a good idea.

2. Zealot by Reza Aslan (non-fiction RRP $29.99) – published by Allen & Unwin

ZealotTwo thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the ‘Kingdom of God’. The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal. Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against historical sources, Aslan describes a complex figure: a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity secret; and the seditious King of the Jews, whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his lifetime. Aslan explores why the early Church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary, and grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself.

I haven’t had the chance to get to this yet, but Blue Eyes did. He found it an interesting book that was in some ways challenging and other ways though-provoking. He had some questions about Aslan’s interpretations and this spurred him on to do some cross-checking. I’ll probably get to it eventually, but not yet.

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What do you think? Which of these books would you read?