Books on Midrash and the Bible as Literature
The Bible as it Was (James Kugel)
From the Book Description: "This is a guide to the Hebrew Bible unlike any other. Leading us chapter by chapter through its most important stories--from the Creation and the Tree of Knowledge through the Exodus from Egypt and the journey to the Promised Land--James Kugel shows how a group of anonymous, ancient interpreters radically transformed the Bible and made it into the book that has come down to us today. . . . Drawing on such sources as the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Jewish apocrypha, Hellenistic writings, long-lost retellings of Bible stories, and prayers and sermons of the early church and synagogue, Kugel reconstructs the theory and methods of interpretation at the time when the Bible was becoming the bedrock of Judaism and Christianity."
The Book of Legends (Hayim Nahman Bialik & Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky)
From the Book Description: "The Hebrew poet Hayim Nahman Bialik and the renowned editor Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky, the architects of this masterful compendium, selected hundreds of texts from the Talmud and midrashic literature and arranged them thematically, in order to provide their contemporaries with easy access to the national literary heritage of the Jewish people -- the texts of Rabbinic Judaism that remain at the heart of Jewish literacy today."
The Legends of the Jews (Louis Ginzberg)
From Wikipedia: "Legends of the Jews is an original synthesis of a vast amount of aggadah from all of classical rabbinic literature, as well as apocryphal, pseudopigraphical and even early Christian literature, with legends ranging from the creation of the world and the fall of Adam, through a huge collection of legends on Moses, and ending with the story of Esther and the Jews in Persia. Ginzberg had an encyclopedic knowledge of all rabbinic literature, and his masterwork included a massive array of aggadot. However he did not create an anthology which showed these aggadot distinctly. Rather, he paraphrased them and rewrote them into one continuous narrative that covered four volumes, followed by two volumes of footnotes that give specific sources."
And God Said (Joel Hoffman)
By one of the today's leading translators of the Bible and Jewish liturgy, a fascinating and highly readable book about the challenges of translating ancient Hebrew works into English while still retaining every level of meaning.
The Jewish Study Bible (2nd Edition) (Adele Berlin & Marc Zvi Brettler)
A translation of the entire Bible with excellent annotations and essays.