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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

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,201 Ratings  ·  235 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, 352 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published March 1st 2009)
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Dec 13, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
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 wor ...more
Lee Harmon
Jun 19, 2011 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 21, 2015 Grumpus rated it liked it
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
Jay Glickman
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
Jun 10, 2009 Caris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This book completely reaffirmed my faith in God!

I felt that my belief and love for him was lacking, but this book turned all of that around!

I no longer feel comfortable waking up in the morning!

I now fear for my life every waking second of my existence!

God is mean and cruel!

I could do this all day!

But I won’t, for I fear I’ve already taken it too far. I have read bits of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Revelations, Job…you know, the important ones. I’ve always been a bit put off by the good book, th
May 23, 2009 Natali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Jan 25, 2014 Ruby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 th ...more
Mark Russell
Aug 26, 2012 Mark Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 o ...more
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
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
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
Joseph Rizzo
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
Melissa Service
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.
Dyah Subagyo
Nov 18, 2015 Dyah Subagyo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
At one point during my childhood (I'm talking about ten, nine years ago) I read my family's Bible. It was the appropriate Catholic one, containing the Deuterocanonica (the interesting stories of Tobit, Judith, and even sequel to Esther and Daniel if memory serves well). I had, and have never been a very analytical reader, and that's why I managed to read the stories about the rape of Dinah, Tamar and Judah's liaison, another Tamar's rape, murder of Sisera, and stories of their likes with flat, f ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Hal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Plotz's take on his first complete reading of the Old Testament is both entertaining and thought provoking. Like myself most people probably have not read the Bible in this way and as Plotz points out we all should, to get our own impression of what guides so much in the world to this day.

From hilarity to disgust all emotions are laid out in his reading and looking at it both critically and whimsically we come face to face with what boils down to some amazing absurdities of life as we expe
Mar 16, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, let me start with the good. I really only have one complaint, but I'll get to that later. The book is both informative and funny. David Plotz is like that really cool professor that everyone wanted because he's a bit "different." He juxtaposes pop culture with Biblical stories that make for a great opportunity for learning and some rip-roaring good times. I was hooked at the opening story about how some brothers told a local tribe to circumcise themselves as a means of repentance, ...more
Sarah's Book Nook
Sep 26, 2015 Sarah's Book Nook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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
Donna Robbins
Aug 28, 2015 Donna Robbins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of books about people closely examining their religion
Recommended to Donna by: Goodreads Audiobook group member
I listened to the audio book narrated by the author. I never read Plotz' "Blogging the Bible" on but I'm assuming pretty much everything in the blog ended up in this book. Good Book is not a work of biblical scholarship, but it is a funny and irreverent look at a text that people think they know better than they actually do.

Plotz reads the entire Jewish (Hebrew) Bible and writes about the experience; he summarizes the interesting parts, muses about the "why" of surprising sections, moa
Dec 01, 2014 charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cliff notes for the Old Testament... Or maybe Julie/Julia for the bible.

Either way, this was good fun. It may have been funnier in the hands of a comedian such as Sarah Silverman, but in many ways the charm of the book is the author's "regular guy" persona. He tries very hard to make sense of it all, even tho the deeper he goes the less sense the OT makes. But he keeps at it and comes to some thought-provoking conclusions as he wrestles with his Jewish upbringing and the very messy contradiction
Aug 07, 2014 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just Finished (37) Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz. The author, a writer for Slate magazine and a non-observant Jew, is so horrified by a Biblical story read out at his cousin's bat mitzvah that he decides to fill in the gaps of his knowledge and read the whole Jewish Bible. He provides a chapter by chapter account of each book and supplements it with additional commentary he is rea ...more
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.
Massanutten Regional Library
Ritchie, Main patron, June 2015, 4 stars:

Excellent read! Like most people, I attended Sunday school as a child, but (like most people) I have never read the Bible on my own. I've always wanted to know more about Biblical stories... but never enough to actually spend a year reading it cover to cover. The Good Book condenses the Old Testament into a manageable, funny, and modern read. The author summarizes the Old Testament's stories using modern language and provides the reader with intellectual
Shea Mastison
This was an entertaining look at the Bible (Hebrew version) from the perspective of an agnostic Jew. His insights concerning the character of god, the messiness of scripture, and its relationship to Jewish culture was enlightening--equally fascinating was his characterization of Jews themselves: repeatedly he credits the legalistic nature of Judaism with the prevalence of Jews in the legal profession, and their argumentative skills. Things that would be considered profoundly racist for anyone bu ...more
Guy Cranswick
Jan 10, 2012 Guy Cranswick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
The title and concept of Good Book intrigued me significantly: a mostly non-religious Jew decides to read through the Bible for the first time to see what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, the idea went further than David Plotz did with the narrative of his journey. Unlike similar entries in the "do this in a year" genre, Plotz remains mostly out of the text himself, instead choosing to focus mainly on the text - or at least his sardonic take on what he read. I wish he had inserted himself m ...more
Joel Neff
Dec 31, 2013 Joel Neff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has ever been to Bible Study.
Years ago, I made it about half way through the Old Testament before giving up; I've always meant to go back and read (or re-read) the Bible from start to finish and every so often I'll read a thoughtful, funny, articulate book, like this one, that re-ignites my ambition. Which is to say, reading someone else's account of their journey is a lot more entertaining and a lot less work than undertaking it myself.

Those looking for scholarly discourse on the nature of the Bible, for those seeking eith
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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).
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