Writer. Reader. Reviewer. Resource Maven.

My Year in Jewish Books

StarFor the past four years, I’ve found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” So, borrowing some of the same introductory wording, I’m going to attempt to do something similar for 2015.

Reviewing my reading for 2015 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that, again, I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, in case you haven’t heard me say this before, I define “Jewish books” in the simplest terms as books with substantive Jewish content. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as overtly Jewish.)

But this year, as usual, I did read quite a few books that fall within the “Jewish book” category. And, as an advocate for Jewish literature, I’m proud of that.

Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them (most recent first).  I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy), L (library), or FTB (for books I’ve read in manuscript prior to their release from Fig Tree Books in my job as FTB media editor). Continue reading ›

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Words of the Week

“In the decades since the end of World War II and the Holocaust, many non-Jewish Germans worked to erase the stain on their nation’s honor that the wartime Nazi regime had created. They repaired crumbling Jewish cemeteries, gave tours of their towns’ Jewish past, and investigated local Jewish history, often doing their work without pay or recognition.

Arthur Obermayer decided that these noble Germans deserved to be recognized.”

Read more at The Jewish Week.

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • So many #JewLit awards were announced this week. See the announcements from the American Library Association/Sophie Brody Medal committee, the National Jewish Book Awards, and the Sydney Taylor Book Awards. And MAZAL TOV to all of the honorees.
  • Among those awardees is Shulem Deen, who won a National Jewish Book Award for his memoir All Who Go Do Not Return. Last month, I had the opportunity to hear him give the keynote address at a Jewish Book Council conference. And now, the JBC has published his “Top 10 Rules for Memoir Writing.”
  • And if you’re looking for other writing lessons, especially with a Jewish flavor, you might want to take a look at what’s here on the Fig Tree Books blog.
  • Update from the Jewish Plays Project.
  • And let’s conclude with this culture alert: “13 Festivals in Israel to Get Excited for in 2016.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Did you follow that recent brouhaha about a so-called “banned” book in Israel? Liel Leibovitz dug deeper into that story for Tablet; read his piece. (See also Michele Chabin’s report for The Jewish Week.)
  • Fascinating to see what the National Library of Israel has been up to.
  • New on the Fig Tree Books blog this week: a look back on Philip Roth’s Everyman.
  • “If the American Jewish story is, on balance, a very happy one, why are our books so miserable? Where are the well-adjusted Jewish writers?” In a new review for Tablet, Adam Kirsch spotlights one of the happy ones: Herman Wouk, who has a new memoir out.
  • I’d fallen behind on the “Israel in Translation” series; here’s a tribute segment for Amir Gutfreund, the Israeli author who passed away this fall.
  • Shabbat shalom. PS: I’ll be traveling for the next few days; comment moderation and response will resume after my return.

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    See You in the New Year

    As noted on my other blog, I’m taking a brief break from blogging for the rest of 2015. See you again in the new year!

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    From My Bookshelf: Leah Kaminsky’s THE WAITING ROOM

    WaitingRoomCoverI was all set to wait patiently for the U.S. release of Leah Kaminsky‘s debut novel The Waiting Room (which will happen next fall). But then, the author—an Australian whom I’ve yet to meet in person but with whom I’ve developed another of those wonderful “online friendships” I’m so grateful for—sent me a gift copy of the original Australian edition, which was published this past September. And how pleased I am that she did.

    There’s so much that’s noteworthy about this book, beginning with the subject matter. What I realized only a few pages in is that The Waiting Room brings together two topics that are often categorized separately among Diaspora readers. First, there’s its Holocaust thread. Protagonist Dina Ronen, Australian-born, is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Her father died during Dina’s childhood; her mother has passed away by the time the novel opens, with Dina a married mother of one young son and another baby about a month away from delivery. But her mother’s ghost speaks throughout the book, and we return often to her parents’ histories in flashbacks. Continue reading ›

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