My Year in Jewish Books

Looking back at my reading for 2011 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, I define “Jewish books” as books with substantive Jewish content/themes. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as particularly Jewish. I read several of those books this year, too.)

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. Moreover, although it wasn’t intentional, when I revisit the record of my reading (again, thanks, Goodreads!), I find that there are 18 such titles.

Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them. Please note that, where appropriate, I have included links to reviews/essays/newsy items I have written; interviews I have conducted; and chat transcripts in which you will see I participated. I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), G (gift), R (complimentary review copy), L (library). NB: Later this week, I’ll publish a “meta-post” with some thoughts and observations based on this one.

Meantime, maybe you will find a title or two (or 18) for your own reading list. Or for a gift for someone else. 

  1. A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, by Ruth Franklin (discussed within this Fiction Writers Review essay) (P)
  2. Faith for Beginners, by Aaron Hamburger (L)
  3. Comedy in a Minor Key, by Hans Keilson (trans. Damion Searls) (P)
  4. To the End of the Land, by David Grossman (trans. Jessica Cohen) (P)
  5. The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer (discussed within this Jewish Book Council Twitter Book Club Chat) (L)
  6. An Exclusive Love, by Johanna Adorján (trans. Anthea Bell; discussed at the conclusion of this Fiction Writers Review essay) (R/G–giveaway from the German Book Office)
  7. Far to Go, by Alison Pick (discussed within this Fiction Writers Review essay) (R)
  8. The Hardship Post, by Jehanne Dubrow (P)
  9. There Is No Other, by Jonathan Papernick (G) or (P) (I honestly can’t remember if we exchanged books or paid each other for them! Sorry, Jon!)
  10. How to Spot One of Us, by Janet Kirchheimer (more info) (P)
  11. The Last Brother, by Nathacha Appanah, trans. Geoffrey Strachan (reviewed for Jewish Book World) (R)
  12. The Free World, by David Bezmozgis (discussed within this Jewish Book Council Twitter Book Club chat) (P)
  13. The Little Bride, by Anna Solomon (interview with the author) (R)
  14. The Eichmann Trial, by Deborah E. Lipstadt (discussed within this Jewish Book Council Twitter Book Club chat) (P)
  15. The Murderer’s Daughters, by Randy Susan Meyers (G)
  16. The List, by Martin Fletcher (reviewed for (R)
  17. Lily Renée, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer, by Trina Robbins (more info) (P)
  18. Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere, by André Aciman (G)

One final title I spent a lot of time with this year. I think you’ll understand why.

6 thoughts on “My Year in Jewish Books

  1. I look forward to the review of 2012. In the meantime, could I ask for some examples of ‘Jewish books’ by non-Jewish authors?

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Hi, Anthony. Just wrote a comment but it seems to have disappeared. As I mentioned in another essay earlier this week, Peter Manseau’s SONGS FOR THE BUTCHER’S DAUGHTER is a good example. The Appanah novel, mentioned above, is, I think, another example. I’m not aware of David Clay Large’s religion–if he’s Jewish or not–but he published a fine book this year that you’ll find in my forthcoming post, about that Munich 1972 Olympics. And going back quite some time, there’s George Eliot’s DANIEL DERONDA. How’s that for a start?

      1. Pretty good! Thank you. (Not sure I have the stamina for the George Eliot though.)

Comments are closed.