My Year in Jewish Books (2019 edition)

For a number of years, I have found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” Here’s my attempt to do something similar for 2019.

blue Star of David on white background

Reviewing my reading for the past year, 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. Occasionally, something may pop up that doesn’t seem to fit this description. I can be flexible.)

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.

What you won’t find here: My own book (Birthright: Poems), which you can be sure I read this year! Nor will you find all the works that I reread in preparation for the course on 21st-Century Jewish Literature that I taught at Baruch College this past fall.

With all of that in place, I’m happy to present the list, complete with annotations that I’ve updated slightly since first writing them as “brief book reviews” immediately after finishing each book:


Words of the Week

“The facts show that American Jews are mostly safe in this country, New York City included. But recent violent events also show that we cannot take this safety for granted. We can be grateful that anti-Semitism in America today is primarily nonviolent — and all Americans should work hard to make sure that doesn’t change.”

Source: Laura E. Adkins, “Anti-Semitism in the U.S. Isn’t Usually Violent. What If That’s Changing?” (Washington Post)

Words of the Week

Facebook post from Deborah Lipstadt, including photograph of her on stage at the URJ Biennial in Chicago and the following text: I am so deeply honored and touched by the response to my message. “I can’t answer everyone but clearly Jews are gratified to be reminded that we are so much more than victims. We are a people with an ancient, yet modern, tradition that has given so much to the world. Spread the word. That’s how we defeat the haters.”

(Thanks to Joanne Intrator for leading me to this.)

Jewish Book Carnival: December 2019

The My Machberet blog is proud to serve as December 2019 host for the Jewish Book Carnival, a monthly event where those who cover Jewish books online “can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts.” Organized by the Association of Jewish Libraries, the Carnival travels around and is hosted on a different participant’s site on the 15th of each month.

stack of books and text announcing "Jewish Book Carnival, the 15th of each month,")

Herewith, the December 2019 Jewish Book Carnival: