My Year in Jewish Books (2012 edition)

Last year, I 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 2012.

Reviewing my reading for 2012 (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.

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).

Meantime, maybe you will find a title or two (or 30) for your own reading list. Or for a gift for someone else.

  1. Wherever You Go, by Joan Leegant (R)
  2. Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum (G)
  3. Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories, by Edith Pearlman (P)
  4. HHhH, by Laurent Binet (trans. Sam Taylor) (R)
  5. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, by Nathan Englander (R)
  6. New American Haggadah, by Jonathan Safran Foer (trans. Nathan Englander) (R)
  7. Oy! Only Six? Why Not More? Six Word Memoirs on Jewish Life, edited by Smith Magazine (Contributor Copy)
  8. After Testimony: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Holocaust Narrative for the Future, edited by James Phelan, Jakob Lothe, Susan Rubin Suleiman (P)
  9. Night Swim, by Jessica Keener (P)
  10. Eyes, Stones, by Elana Bell (L)
  11. You Saved Me, Too: What a Holocaust Survivor Taught Me about Living, Dying, Fighting, Loving, and Swearing in Yiddish, by Susan Kushner Resnick (R)
  12. The Liberal Case for Israel: Debunking Eight Crazy Lies About the Jewish State, by Jonathan Miller (L [Kindle Lending Library])
  13. Moving Waters, by Racelle Rosett (R & G)
  14. Four Stories, by Etgar Keret (P)
  15. Munich 1972: Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph at the Olympic Games, by David Clay Large (R)
  16. The Innocents, by Francesca Segal (R) (see also the JBC Twitter Book Chat with the author)
  17. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, by Shani Boianjiu (R) (see also the JBC Twitter Book Chat with the author)
  18. Berlin Cantata, by Jeffrey Lewis (R)
  19. Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, by Etgar Keret (trans. Nathan Englander, Miriam Shlesinger, and Sondra Silverston) (P)
  20. A Brilliant Novel Already in the Works, by Yuvi Zalkow (R)
  21. Zayde Comes to Live, by Sheri Sinykin (R)
  22. The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Transformed the Middle East, by Abraham Rabinovich (P)
  23. The World Without You, by Joshua Henkin (R)
  24. A Wedding in Great Neck, by Yona Zeldis McDonough (R)
  25. Life Goes On, by Hans Keilson (trans. Damion Searls), (R)
  26. There’s Jews in Texas? by Debra L. Winegarten (L [Kindle Lending Library])
  27. Famous Drownings in Literary History: Essays on 21st-century Jewishness, by Kevin Haworth (P)
  28. The Polish Boxer, by Eduardo Halfon (trans. Daniel Hahn, Ollie Brock, Lisa Dillman, Thomas Bunstead, and Anne McLean) (R & G)
  29. The Curse of Gurs: Way Station to Auschwitz, by Werner Frank (P & G)
  30. The Middlesteins, by Jami Attenberg (R)
  31. The Pretty Girl, by Debra Spark (Debra Spark and I exchanged copies of our respective books)
  32. Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, by Harvey Pekar and J.T. Waldman (P)
  33. Into the Wilderness, by David Ebenbach (P)

If I can, I’ll try to collect some statistics on this list and offer a few observations (again, much as I did last year). We’ll see how the week goes!

6 thoughts on “My Year in Jewish Books (2012 edition)

  1. tsipi keller says:

    Wanted to bring to your attention The Prophet of Tenth Street (SUNY Press 2012)

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thanks for sharing, Tsipi.

  2. Erika,
    Thanks for this very eclectic list. I’ve read just a few of these – the books by Joshua Henkin and Susan Kushner Resnick. Loved both of those for very different reasons.

    Looking forward to reading some new gems, thanks to your useful list!


    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Hi, Linda. So nice to hear from you! And thank you for calling the list “eclectic” – I think that it could have been even more so (an ambition for next year?), but I do try to make the point, over and over, that “Jewish lit” isn’t monolithic. Happy Chanukah to you and your family.

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