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Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,256 Ratings  ·  241 Reviews
At a time when wars are fought over scriptural interpretation, when the influence of religion on American politics has never been greater, when many Americans still believe in the Bible’s literal truth, it has never been more important to get to know the Bible. Good Book is what happens when a regular guy—an average Job—actually reads the book on which his religion, his cu ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 496 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by HarperLuxe (first published March 1st 2009)
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Dec 13, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This is a fascinating, irreverent book that that summarizes the Bible, chapter by chapter. Oh, some chapters are bypassed, because in the words of David Plotz, "it is boring."

The last chapter stands out as the most interesting, as the author asks the question, "Should you read the Bible?" The first reason is that so much of Western culture comes from the Bible. Plotz writes that it is difficult to get through a chapter--even a chapter in some obscure book--"without encountering a phrase, a name
Mar 09, 2009 Eris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Plotz, a secular Jew, discovers a horrifying story while browsing the Old Testament in a fit of boredom during an infrequent visit to a Temple service. So horrifying that he is compelled to pick up the Book and read the whole thing to see what other horrors he has missed. This book is a chapter by chapter (mostly) synopsis of the Old Testament, with commentary and some biting observations. I found his play by play color commentary to be insightful at times, and did very much enjoy this ...more
Lee Harmon
Jun 19, 2011 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing
100% recommended! This romp through the Hebrew Bible is much more than just fascinating and funny. It’s also engrossing, mildly irreverent, thought-provoking, disturbing--you'll love the Good Book whether you’re a believer or not. This is the Bible unveiled in all its grime and greatness. The characters in Genesis are especially unforgettable, from the story of Abimalech lusting after a 90-year-old woman (Sarah, Abraham's wife) to a diabolical mother-and-son plot to rob the simple-minded Esau of ...more
Corey Edwards
Jul 07, 2014 Corey Edwards rated it it was ok
Not quite the book I was hoping for but an interesting read none the less. Further, the book illustrates a contradiction that has perplexed me for years: faith despite wisdom.

The author is a self-described faithful Jew whose rather shaky faith was greatly strengthened by reading every word of the bible. This despite the fact that doing so caused him to write a book that - very gently but also thoroughly - pokes holes both great and small in the fabric of the text throughout, leaving a tattered m
Jay Glickman
Nov 10, 2012 Jay Glickman rated it it was amazing
Have I mentioned my profound contempt and loathing of religious fundamentalists? Probably. I was reminded today of the staggering loopiness of these right-wingnuts when Bobo Smyth-Bullard sent me a clipping concerning a fundamentalist's response to the late unpleasantness at Sea World, in which Shamu the "Killer Whale" lived up to his description and iced one of his trainers.

Said response was swift and merciless; according to scripture, Shamu must be killed forthwith - via stoning. (How do you
Jul 13, 2016 Daniel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An ignorant Jewish writer decided to read the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) for the first time and write about the experience book by book. Billed as "hilarious" and "inspiring" it isn't much of either in large part because of the lack of any real Jewish knowledge by the author. He reads Psalm 118 and says, "I don't think this psalm has much sway over Jews..." unaware that it is part of the Hallel service that is part of every holiday service and then skips over Psalm 145 (Ashrei) which is read three ...more
Sep 16, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because I grew up in a religious environment, I find secular views on the bible interesting. David Plotz made the choice to read his Jewish Bible for the first time. This was a new experience for him as he had forgotten most of the things he learned in Hebrew School.

David writes this book in a chapter by chapter approach; the reader can see his understanding grow and his reactions change throughout the book. Many of his musings are notable, but two stand out: his acceptable name list and his re
I enjoyed the slightly irreverent look at his chapter-by-chapter reading of the Old Testament. Each Biblical chapter of significance (his opinion) is addressed through a brief summary of what is happening in “everyday” language and his humorous lens. It will shed new light on all those biblical stories you’ve heard about since you were a child. The appendix was especially interesting as it was a synopsis of useful (and not so useful) Bible lists. You never really knew what was in the Bible until ...more
May 23, 2009 Natali rated it it was amazing
One of the funniest books I've ever read. I loved it! Good Book is a summary of the Old Testament, told by David Plotz, an editor for Slate Magazine. It is his sincere effort to better understand the bible but his compendium is sarcastic, sardonic, and hilarious.

I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I enjoyed the second half but that is not really Plotz's fault. The first half of the Old Testament has a lot more action than the last half. Still, the writing is fun enough to keep you engaged.
Joseph Rizzo
Feb 27, 2013 Joseph Rizzo rated it it was ok
What I enjoyed about this book:

Seeing this through the eyes of a non-christian. He actually takes the time to read the OT.

The things that caught his attention were interesting.

What I didn't enjoy:

Taking some of the OT narrative wildly out of context and reducing the actions of Almighty God to a petty, vindictive, and unjustly punitive God. It is unfortunate, but I know he is not the only one who sees it this way. It is his misunderstanding of human nature and the requisite judicial actions of G
David Plotz is a secular Jew who stumbled upon a biblical story that was so outrageous and appalling that it made him question his education (at a Jewish school) and his memory. He decided to read the Jewish Bible (aka Old Testament) to see what other bits of melodramatic crazy was tucked away in there. This book is the result of his effort to make sense of it. It is fascinating, subjective, and hilarious. Bible literalists and "because God says so" types are going to hate it.
Those of us who ha
Mark Russell
Aug 26, 2012 Mark Russell rated it really liked it
Full of wit and insight, this book gives us the play-by-play on each book of the Hebrew Bible. I especially like the fact that Plotz approaches the Bible as an outsider. His critiques and observations are rarely theological, but are more often personal, ethical or literary in nature. He relates the Bible to us, not as a priest, but as a reader. Rather than getting into the murky scholarship of what the religious intent behind a passage might be, he usually opts for lay analysis along the lines ...more
Jan 25, 2014 Ruby rated it really liked it
When I began reading this book, I was sure I would be left feeling even more “Bible illiterate” than before, but I found the author to be enlightening and entertaining. I found him to be humorous, yet he seemed more real to me than many other authors who take on this type of commitment. I read the Old Testament as a child, but have to admit that I’d forgotten more than I realized, and never understood much of what I’d read. I also found it interesting that the church tends to pick pieces from ...more
Jul 01, 2010 Therese1974 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any one interested in the Bible.
There are several aspects of this book that I enjoyed. Firstly, the humor. David Plotz is is laugh out loud funny. Second, his Jewishness. It is my experience that while both Jews and Christians can write about God with various degrees of piety, disbelief, or irreverence, Jewish writers seem much more comfortable arguing with God. I'm Catholic so I find this fascinating... and a bit thrilling. Writers in my tradition seem to maintain a more pious attitude unless they've turned their back on God ...more
Jun 25, 2009 Tasha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I have a family member who belongs to a church where you can't play music. But in the Bible, God clearly loves music - see David (he loved to dance....wait for it!) and all of Psalms.

Also, David (yes, that David who killed Goliath) was gay. That's quite a shocker. His lover, Jonathan, was the recipient of his tears, kisses, and the confession that his love meant more to him than any woman. If that's not gay, then I don't know what is. It's interesting that Leviticus calls lying with a man as yo
Jul 26, 2011 Kerith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has read the Bible numerous times, I read this with a grin on my face and enjoyed it very much. Plotz admits at the beginning that while he has gone to synagogue all his life and even went to an Episcopal high school, he has never read the Bible and intends to read it for the first time while blogging about the experience. I read most of this on when it was just a blog and the book is even more fun.

He takes the Bible straight and writes about what he finds in it, his sh
Simply excellent! I only made it through Exodus in my one attempt to read the bible, but through the conduit of David Plotz, I was riveted. And I assure you, he noticed far more of the consistencies (the importance of the number 40, the parallels or... em borrowed bits from one famous story to the next)and inconsistencies (in one chapter family values reigns supreme, in the next, women and children are cast off into the desert) than I ever would have.

I feel more connected to the anthropological
Guy Cranswick
Jan 10, 2012 Guy Cranswick rated it really liked it
Extremely engaging and not only provides a superb overview of the old Testament but also insights into the books from a textual perspective. The humor adds tot eh irony and distance between the times in which it was written and our own.
May 23, 2015 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. Plotz reads the entire Bible and basically sums it up in this book. I found his tone perfect-- irreverent but not insulting. This was a nice way to be refreshed on a lot of the parts of the Bible I had forgotten.
Melissa Service
Mar 08, 2015 Melissa Service rated it liked it
Interesting, but a bit irreverent. Most of his comments were based on a literal English reading of the text,and were similar to those from people who haven't actually taken the time to study or understand the culture or history of the Bible.
Sep 13, 2012 Hope rated it liked it
The premise of the book is great. I enjoyed the first few chapters... and then... it gets really boring and repetitive....
Sarah(All The Book Blog Names Are Taken)
Loved the appendix with all the lists. Interesting read, review to come soon.


My book blog:

As anyone who knows me may have guessed by now, I am something of a reader. I devoured books left and right from elementary school on, and this love of reading (and writing!) was fostered even more in 6th grade by quite possibly one of the best teachers I have ever had, Mr. Hanzlik - more affectionately referred to simply as H. Seriously, he's o
M Jane Olbricht
Oct 27, 2016 M Jane Olbricht rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a terrific read Christians and Jews will probably both enjoy this it actually elaborates on the things we learned as children .

I read this entire back and listen today's it was a wonderful read expanding on the knowledge that I have the Bible and sifting out things that I really had wrong . It's not quite the Bible of my sentence Sunday school days . I too have always wondered how the Maccabees did not make it into the canon of the Old Testament but it become part of the Apocrypha for t
Nov 25, 2016 Greg rated it really liked it
Since writing this book, David Plotz has become the CEO of Atlas Obscura, which is like a treasure map of the world's hidden wonders. It's clear that he has a knack for discovering and sharing the unknown.

The Hebrew Scriptures get rather boring towards the end, becoming a long slog. I was tempted to give the book 3 starts but it's not really Plotz's fault. He does his best to roll with it.
Patrick Neal
Oct 31, 2016 Patrick Neal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not good

I thought this would be a fun book .
Disappointed with the satire.
Very disrespectful of God.
Do not recommend it. :(
Al Bità
Nov 29, 2012 Al Bità rated it it was ok
It must be part of my masochistic tendencies to being intrigued by books such as this! Maybe it is the subtitle to the title: "The bizarre, hilarious, disturbing, marvellous, and inspiring things I learned when I read every single word of the Bible"?

Be that as it may, this book is essentially an apologia by a self-confessed non-observant Jew for the Hebrew Bible. (This, by the way, is different from the Christian Old Testament, which is supposed to be based on the old greek translation allegedly
Oct 13, 2014 Tintinrulz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Good Book" by David Plotz of Slate, is a good book but certainly not the amazing, life-changing book some critics have hailed it. This book is disturbing, frustrating, funny and thought-provoking - much like the Bible itself, except this most definitely isn't the inspired Word of God. Plotz claims that he's an agnostic Jew. Growing up as a secular Jew, he knew little of the Bible and remembers far less. He reads through the whole Bible, meaning the Hebrew Bible in English (the Old Testament). ...more
Jul 22, 2016 Bibliotropic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
David Plotz started his bible-reading project when he came to the conclusion one day that he really didn't know much about what was in it. He knew the stories that nearly all of us had been taught, but really only the watered-down child-friendly versions. Most of the grit and grime and blood and sex of the bible was unknown to him, as it's unknown to most people.

So he sets out to read the entirety of the Old Testament, and to record his commentary on it. In doing so, not only did he discover som
Mar 25, 2012 Blysse rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Review posted on Reading Lark After Dark (18+ reviews):

Excuse me? What is a book about The Bible doing in an adult only book review blog? You may well ask. It is non-fiction but any book featuring murder, rape, incest, bestiality, masturbation, the rhythm method, mental illness, betrayal, property fraud, genocide, natural disasters and a talking snake has got to count for 18+, right?

I will start with a disclaimer. I picked this book up quite by accident. I was not looking for anything biblical a
Emilia P
Oct 26, 2009 Emilia P rated it liked it
Shelves: real-books, churrrch
This book was many things, and ultimately I think it worked pretty well.
The voice and tone was consistent and I learned a lot... so, I'll say what I didn't like first and then get into what I did.

I have to be honest, the cataloging style of this, chapter by chapter, piece by piece, without overarching themes, was distracting and seemed too easy to me. Of course, it started out as a blogging project, so I guess I could let it slide. Also, of course, duh, the fact that he's a secular Jew and the S
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Plotz, an American journalist, has been a writer with Slate since its inception and was designated as the online magazine's editor in June 2008.

He is the author of "The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank" (2005) and "Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned when I Read Every Single Word of the Bible" (2009).
More about David Plotz...

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