My Year in Jewish Books

StarFor the past five 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 2016.

Reviewing my reading for 2016 (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), G (gift), or FTB (for books I’ve read in manuscript prior to their release from Fig Tree Books in my job as FTB media editor OR as part of the ongoing series of spotlights posts on past winners of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award).

  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (P, FTB)
  • Israel: A Concise History of a National Reborn by Daniel Gordis (P)
  • Identity Papers: Contemporary Narratives of American Jewishness by Helene Meyers (P)
  • Two Worlds Exist by Yehoshua November (P)
  • In the Image by Dara Horn (L, FTB)
  • Red Lines: HonestReporting’s Eight Categories of Media Bias edited by Pesach Benson (P–but I think it was a free download)
  • Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film by Alexandra Zapruder (R)
  • Heirlooms: Stories by Rachel Hall (P)
  • Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali (trans. Marcela Sulak) (P)
  • In the Mouth: Stories and Novellas by Eileen Pollack (L, FTB)
  • Third Generation Holocaust Narratives: Memory in Memoir and Fiction edited by Victoria Aarons (R–complimentary copy to me as a contributor)
  • My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew by Abigail Pogrebin (FTB)
  • A Door with a Voice by Katie Manning (P–but again, I believe this was a free download)
  • The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature by Adam Kirsch (G)
  • O My America! by Johanna Kaplan (L, FTB)
  • Pumpkinflowers: An Israeli Soldier’s Story by Matti Friedman (P)
  • The Life of Jews in Poland Before the Holocaust: A Memoir by Ben-Zion Gold (P)
  • The Collected Poems by Howard Nemerov (L)
  • Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon (R…but I eventually bought a copy, too!)
  • Tomorrow We Never Did Talk About It by Eduardo Halfon (trans. Anne McLean) (P)
  • Flotsam: A Novel of World War II by Erich Maria Remarque (trans. Denver Lindley) (L)
  • The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner (P)

4 thoughts on “My Year in Jewish Books

  1. Nina says:

    I look forward to this list every year!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      That is so kind, Nina!!!

  2. David Cooper says:

    Only two titles overlap on our respective lists, The History of Love, which I recall fondly though I read it years ago, and Leaving Lucy Pear, which I also read as an ARC and reviewed. According to Goodreads I read or listened to 80 books in 2016, and by my count 39 of them had Jewish themes and/or characters.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      How interesting, David! Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed your review of LEAVING LUCY PEAR.

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