Summer Reading

There are the beach books and the must-reads, the latest fiction, biographies, histories and current topics we’ve been meaning to read.

Everyone has a favorite: a genre or topic of book to read. Maybe there’s a subject or theme that you want to follow.  Summer’s the time to catch up, branch out, breathe deep, kick back, relax and read.

The DovekeepersSo whatcha reading?

We asked some avid readers: staff members of the Jewish Federation and Shari Lebo, Director of  the 61st Annual Jewish Book Fair. “There are so many great books coming out this year,” says Lebo, ‘We believe this is going to be an amazing book fair, so stay tuned.” Lebo recently spent a whirlwind week with members of her committee and volunteer readers attending the annual conference of the Jewish Book Council. Her mission? To bring in the best of the best books and featured authors for the Book Fair,  November 7-18, 2012.

Here in no particular order is our summer reading list.


The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman (2011)  The story of the survivors of Masada, it is considered by many to be her masterpiece.

The Art of Racing in the RainUnorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, by Deborah Feldman (February 2012) A captivating memoir about life in the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Ann Frank, by Nathan Englander (2011) Short stories much funnier than the title would indicate.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein (2008) A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty and hope.

The Tattooed Rabbi, by Marvin J. Wolfe (2011)  Mystery with a twisty plot and thrilling escapes, transcending all notions of Torah and Talmud.
To the End of the Land, by David Grossman (2010) A somber and haunting novel of love and loyalty in time of conflict, set in Israel between 1967 and 2000.

Defending Jacob36 Arguments for the Existence of God, a Work of Fiction, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (2010) A hefty read, but rewarding as well, from Winner of the 1996 MacArthur Genius Award.

Say Nice Things About Detroit, by Scott Lasser (July 2012) A novel about second chances from a writer of “stirring, poignant, and profound” work (Wally Lamb).

Defending Jacob, by William Landay (February 2012) A courtroom story hinges on the murder of a high-school boy and involves a former assistant district attorney and his son.

Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith (June 2012) Imagine the story of the Nativity recast as a Hollywood blockbuster.

The Wedding Beat, by Devan Siphar (April 2012) A romantic comedy from a man’s point of view. Fabulous and funny.

Hope: A Tragedy, by Shalom Auslander (January 2012 ) Absurdist, hilarious, part Sholom Aleichem, part Woody Allen.

The Wedding Beat

Non Fiction and Memoir

And the Bridge is Love, by Faye Moskowitz (1991/ back in print 2011) A collection of personal essays is as fresh as ever, by the author of A Leak in the Heart and Her Face in the Mirror.

Operation Mincemeat, How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory, by Ben Macintyre  (2010)  A brilliant and almost absurdly entertaining account of one of the most successful wartime deceptions ever attempted.

Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, by Larry Tye. Was Superman Jewish? Let’s just say his creators were Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, and both grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Cleveland.

Jerusalem: The Biography, by Simon Sebag Montefiore,  (2011) An epic history of 3000 years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence.

Superman: High-Flying HistoryOne Egg is a Fortune, Memories and Recipes to Share, by Judy Kempler and Pnina Jacobson (2011)   Personal food stories of 50 Jewish celebrities from around the world.

January First: A Child’s Descent Into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her. by Michael Schofield (Memoir) Harrowing and honest.

When General Grant Expelled the Jews, by Jonathan Sarna (History, May 2012) A riveting account of General Ulysses S. Grant’s decision, in the middle of the Civil War, to order the expulsion of all Jews from the territory under his command.

Ignorance: How It Drives Science,   by Stuart Firestein (2012) Neuroscientist Firestein writes that science is often like looking for a black cat in a dark room, and there may not be a cat in the room.


Good Night, Laila TovDoes This Make Me Beautiful? by Harriet Morse (2010) We can never remind our daughters enough that their beauty comes from being their own true selves.
Good Night, Laila Tov , by Laurel Snyder (March 2012) A family trip turns into an adventure of discovery for a curious and carefree sister and brother.

Still searching for the perfect read?

Jewish Book World Magazine  – a quarterly publication of the Jewish Book Council is online. Search hundreds of reviews  by category, author, or keyword. New books are added daily.