For the past three 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 2014.
Reviewing my reading for 2014 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively; it seems that this list comprises about half of the titles I read this year in toto. (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, this year). Please note that, where appropriate, I have included links to reviews, essays, and newsy items I have written; interviews I have conducted; “Sunday Sentence” citations; and the odd blog post. I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy), L (library). This year, I’m adding a category: 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 ›
“Chag sameach,” he said. “What a blessing to be a citizen of the United States of America. Thank you President Obama for everything you have done today.”
–Alan Gross, quoted by JTA
Lee Mandel is another author I’ve come to know via our online interactions. I’m delighted to present his latest book–an important history you can learn more about here. And I have Lee’s permission to share his kind email message with you.
Hi Erika- you probably know that you are a mentor to a lot of aspiring writers such as myself. I mentioned in the past that I frequently read your web postings. My new book, Unlikely Warrior: A Pacifist Rabbi’s Journey From the Pulpit to Iwo Jima, is due out late December (it’s been delayed from the original publication date of September 30). Last year I saved a file from your website “Advice for Writers: Six Ways to Publicize Your Jewish Book.” In it you mentioned that one of your first speaking engagements for Quiet Americans was at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. Well, I followed your lead and contacted Mike Rugel at the museum and I’m pleased to say that I’ll be speaking there on March 8. I thank you so much for the advice! Although the book isn’t out yet, I’ve already given two talks and the response has been highly favorable. My publisher (Pelican Publishing Company in New Orleans) is arranging several more and they have contacted the World War II Museum in New Orleans. They are very interested in the book, especially given that the 70th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima is this coming February. Once again Erika, thanks for the guidance you provide to us all on your website!
And thank you, Lee, for sharing the news of your book–and my small role in helping you help others get to know it.
I don’t often discuss children’s books here on My Machberet. But I decided to make an exception when Barbara Krasner contacted me about her new picture book, Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade (Kar-Ben Publishing; illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley), mainly because of my longstanding interest in Meir.
One hopes that most of the adults who pick up this book already know who Golda/Goldie is. For the younger folks, a biographical note after the main story explains the basics: Our heroine was born in Kiev in 1898, immigrated to Milwaukee in 1906, and went to Palestine in 1921. She was Prime Minister of Israel from 1969-1974.
The note adds: “Although the dialogue in this book is imagined, the events are true.” The story takes place in Milwaukee, and the plot depicts the child Goldie undertaking a fund-raising effort. As leader of the American Young Sisters Society, she directs a campaign with the purpose, as she explains, of “trying to raise money to buy school books for kids who can’t afford them.”
What’s especially nice here is the way that Krasner situates Goldie as an American girl, a Jewish immigrant in Milwaukee. Yes, she’s far better known in Israel. But the book reminds us of yet another bond between Americans and Israelis and a major figure in whom both countries can rightly take pride.
My thanks to Kar-Ben Publishing for the complimentary review copy.