My Year In Jewish Books

StarFor the past two 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 2013, even if Hanukkah came so early this year that this 2013 iteration lacks the same usefulness a gift-inspiration guide.

Reviewing my reading for 2013 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that 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” 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 particularly 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. Please note that, where appropriate, I have included links to reviews, essays, and newsy items I have written; interviews I have conducted; and the odd blog post. I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy/complimentary seminar copy), L (library).

  1. Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp, by Ann Kirschner (R)
  2. Lettres de Buchenwald, by Léon Blum (L)
  3. The Sensualist, by Daniel Torday (P)
  4. Holocaust Literature: A History & Guide, by David G. Roskies and Naomi Diamant (R)
  5. In Case We’re Separated: Connected Stories, by Alice Mattison (L)
  6. Harvard Square, by André Aciman (R)
  7. Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot (P)
  8. Out of Egypt, by André Aciman (P)
  9. The Property, by Rutu Modan (trans. Jessica Cohen) (P)
  10. The Wanting, by Michael Lavigne (L)
  11. Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah’s Wife, by Rebecca Kanner (R)
  12. Rome and Jerusalem: A Study in Jewish Nationalism, by Moses Hess (P)
  13. The Best Place on Earth: Stories, by Ayelet Tsabari (P)
  14. The Hysterectomy Waltz, by Merrill Joan Gerber (R)
  15. The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (L)
  16. One Hundred Philistine Foreskins: A Novel, by Tova Reich (L)
  17. A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh (R)
  18. The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynzspan: A Boy Avenger, A Nazi Diplomat, and A Murder in Paris, by Jonathan Kirsch (R)
  19. Textile, by Orly Castel-Bloom (trans. Dalya Bilu) (R)
  20. Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan (trans. Noah Stollman) (L)
  21. My Promised Land, by Ari Shavit (R)
  22. You Have Been Kind Enough to Assist Me: Herman Stern and the Jewish Refugee Crisis, by Terry Shoptaugh (L)
  23. Letting It Go, by Miriam Katin (L)
  24. To Sing Away the Darkest Days, by Norbert Hirschhorn (R)
  25. Conspiracy of Letters, by Liel Leibovitz (P)
  26. The Best Short Stories of Lesléa Newman (P)
  27. The Impossible Takes Longer: The Memoirs of Vera Weizmann (L)
  28. No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet, by Molly Knight Raskin (P)
  29. Without a Claim, by Grace Schulman (P)
  30. Between Friends, by Amos Oz (trans. Sondra Silverston) (L)
  31. What’s Left Behind, by Michal Mahgerefteh (R)
  32. Fire Year, by Jason K. Friedman (L)

10 thoughts on “My Year In Jewish Books

  1. Carol Ungar says:

    interesting. I’m tempted to order some –but where will I find the time to read them?
    Where is “As Dreamers,” my choice for this year, best Jewish book?.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Carol–Quite literally, Yossi Klein Halevi’s “Like Dreamers” is on my nightstand. I was lucky to receive a free copy at an event that I attended that featured Halevi as a speaker.

  2. Nina says:

    What an impressive list! Horrified to say I have not read ONE.

  3. Nina says:

    I did read 52 books this year though!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      You are a reading fiend, Nina B.! If you were asking me to recommend reads from this list especially for you, I’d send you to TEXTILE and BETWEEN FRIENDS first.

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