The ProsenPeople

Book Cover of the Week: When Books Went to War

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

It's Banned Books Week, the literary world's defiant celebration of books that have lamentably been censored in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Censorship and the destruction of books both sacred and profane have made no small stain on Jewish history throughout the world, even today.

At the Jewish Book Council, we thought we'd focus this week on efforts to encourage reading and freedom of expression. Did you know that while Nazi Germany decimated over 100 million volumes during World War II, the United States Army and Navy distributed over 140 million books to its servicemen fighting abroad?

Almost every American publisher joined the Council on Books in Wartime, which printed and distributed 1,200 titles in travel-sized paperbacks designed to fit in the pockets of standard issue military uniforms. The Victory Book Campaign collected over 18 million donated books from American civilians. Novels considered classics today were propelled out of obscurity by their popularity among the soldiers who carried them through battles and marches.

Now get out and celebrate the First Amendment!

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Book Cover of the Week: Jane Austen Cover to Cover

Friday, September 19, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

There’s nothing so thrilling as finding an intriguing edition of a book you love from who-knows-when to take home with you and place next to the other seven copies of The Master and Margarita (my personal bibliophilic collectible of choice) on the shelf.

(Moving past Russian literature of varying translation and censorship,) I don’t think I’ve ever entered a used book store without taking at least a glance at their Jane Austen stockpile. Just to see what’s there—it’s not like I don’t already possess multiple copies of each novel across bookshelves and storage boxes in four different states. So imagine my delight at discovering Quirk Books’ forthcoming visual book, Jane Austen from Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Covers!

“The covers gathered in this volume represent two hundred years of publication, interpretation, marketing, and misapprehensions of Jane Austen’s works, but underneath the variety of images one thing remains the same: the text that left the pen of a woman in Hampshire, England, two centuries ago,” author and Austenblog editrix Margaret C. Sullivan observes in her introduction to Cover to Cover. “No matter how beautiful, tacky, infuriating, beguiling, silly, or strange the packaging may be, the story inside never changes.”

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Book Cover of the Week: From Bombolini to Bagel

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Having worked with Jacqueline Gmach in her role coordinating the San Diego Jewish Book Fair for many years, the Jewish Book Council was thrilled when she announced the publication of a book of her own—a memoir of her life journey from Tunisia to France, Israel, Canada, and eventually the United States:

So now I know what bombolini are, and my mouth is watering!

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Book Cover of the Week: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

Friday, September 05, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

I revisited Adelle Waldman's debut novel over Labor Day, recommending The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. to a friend who sadly experienced some major heartache this summer. And this novel is so. Good.

My forlorn friend's immediate response to the book? "Great cover art!"

This is not the book cover he saw. Apparently, this is what The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. looks like in Australia? But the original is pretty great, too.

Update: Henry Holt & Co. verified that the image pictured is the UK edition!

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Book Cover of the Week: Bespotted

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

We loved seeing everyone's pictures of and with their canine friends for National Dog Day this week! Dog lovers and Disney fans alike will adore this new book from Counterpoint Press, out next week:

Bespotted: My Family's Love Affair with Thirty-Eight Dalmatians by memoirist Linda Grey Sexton is a beloved children's film come to life, the story of how a new litter of puppies impacted a New England family and inspired the Pulitzer-winning poetry collection by Anne Sexton (the author's mother), Live or Die.

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Book Cover of the Week: In the Spirit of Homebirth

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Whether homebirthing is your steez or not, there's no denying the delight of this book cover:

In the Spirit of Homebirth: Modern Women, an Ancient Choice is a collection of stories across a panoply of cultures, socioeconomic classes, religions, and environments from women and their families who opted for this contemporary expression of an ancient tradition in childbearing.

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Book Cover of the Week: The Terrible Beauty of the Evil Man

Thursday, August 14, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

Kodesh Press held a special Tu b'Av sale of some of their newest titles, including The Terrible Beauty of the Evil Man, a memoir by Finis Leavell Beauchamp of his decision to leave his family's Evangelical dynasty.


If the intensity of the book's watercolor cover isn't stirring enough, read its contents: The Terrible Beauty of the Evil Man opens with Beauchamp's childhood memories of being possessed by and exorcised of demons and ends with his transition from post-Evangelical agnosticism to committed Jewish faith.

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  • Double Vision by Tehila Lieberman
  • What We Believe by Darin Strauss
  • An Unusual Relationship: Evangelical Christians and Jews by Yaakov Ariel
  • Book Cover of the Week: What We Brought Back

    Thursday, August 07, 2014 | Permalink

    Posted by Nat Bernstein

    As summer programs and, God willing, this summer's war between Israel and Hamas draw to a close, one has to wonder at the experiences of the Jewish teenagers, college students, and young professionals who traveled to and within Israel through Taglit Birthright, study abroad, or other opportunities over the past few weeks. Facebook flooded with updates and op-eds; Instagram housed a gallery of "bomb shelter selfies" with new friends; emails home detailed each day's travel log and security considerations. How will these young people reflect on their (first, for many) time in Israel?

    The image of the Old City inside a shaken souvenir snow globe seems rife with symbolism, especially now.

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  • Book Cover of the Week: Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014 | Permalink

    Posted by Nat Bernstein

    This week at the farmers market I marveled at the fresh currants currently in season: spherical crimson and blush-colored jewels on delicate, tiny green vines—as photographed for Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving by Cathy Barrow:

    Yes, the book is an excellent resource for any season, but there's something about canning summer fruits at the end of July, isn't there?

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  • Tomatoes: A Savor of the South Cookbook by Miriam Rubin
  • The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipies for a New Generation by Mollie Katzen
  • Essays on Food, Eating, and Recipes
  • Book Cover of the Week: The Language of Paradise

    Friday, July 25, 2014 | Permalink

    Posted by Nat Bernstein

    The microcosm encased within a glass terrarium on the book cover for Barbara Klein Moss's forthcoming novel The Language of Paradise evokes the poignant contradictions of the story it contains: nurtured wilderness, love and estrangement, caged Arcadia, Art, Science, and Theology...

    Caught in her husband's quest for the prelapsarian language in which Adam named all the creatures of the Earth, Sophy Hedge stands at the threshold of the Garden of Eden he has constructed inside a greenhouse, pregnant with their first child. Sophy must choose whether to remain in replicated paradise with her husband or escape to save her child and herself. The Language of Paradise is scheduled for release in April 2015 from W.W. Norton & Co.

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  • Eve: Novel of the First Woman by Elissa Elliot
  • Eden by Yael Hedaya
  • Writing in a Foreign Language by Shani Boianjiu