The Jew­ish Book Coun­cil staff shares what we’ve been read­ing over the last month:


How did the small coun­try of Israel, with a pop­u­la­tion of only six mil­lion, become a leader in the devel­op­ment of new tech­nol­o­gy being deployed on the bat­tle­field? The Weapon Wiz­ards: How Israel Become a High-Tech Mil­i­tary Super­pow­er by Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot address­es this ques­tion and more about Israel’s success.


The Gus­tav Sonata by Rose Tremain traces the lives of two boys through their adult­hood in Switzer­land dur­ing WWII from very dif­fer­ent lives. One is a boy who becomes a hotel own­er and the oth­er a hope­ful Jew­ish con­cert pianist. Their sto­ry is about love, lost, anti-Semi­tism and life­time of friend­ship. I found this a very mov­ing sto­ry that I could­n’t put down.


Although Gavriel Savit’s Anna and the Swal­low Man was orig­i­nal­ly tout­ed as a YA book, it cer­tain­ly appro­pri­ate for an adult. The writ­ing is very sophis­ti­cat­ed and the sto­ry cap­tured my attention.


Beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten by a gift­ed sto­ry­teller, Among the Liv­ing by Jonathan Rabb explores com­plex times and char­ac­ters in post-Holo­caust Geor­gia through char­ac­ters you will come to love.


I real­ly enjoyed read­ing Abi­gail Pogrebin’s My Jew­ish Year, as both a mem­oir and as an explo­ration of the Jew­ish year. Abi­gail has a great voice, and, even though I came in know­ing a lot about the hol­i­days, I learned new things and read some real­ly inter­est­ing inter­pre­ta­tions from the rab­bis that she interviewed.


Daphne Merkin chron­i­cles her life­long bat­tle with clin­i­cal depres­sion in This Close to Hap­py, a mov­ing, lucid, and ulti­mate­ly hope­ful memoir.


Read­ing Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank is some­thing of a rite of pas­sage for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil staff. I’m delight­ed to be initiated!


Schaden­freude, A Love Sto­ry is the hilar­i­ous and insight­ful mem­oir of an angsty, half-Jew­ish teenag­er who becomes obsessed with Kaf­ka and all things Ger­man. As some­one who has lived in Ger­many for a short time, I could­n’t get enough of Schu­man’s lov­ing, snarky, spot-on obser­va­tions — and I think any read­er would find her sto­ry just as enjoy­able as I did.


Pub­lish­ing George Prochnik’s Vis­it­ing Scribe essays on his new biog­ra­phy of Ger­shom Scholem, Stranger in a Strange Land, remind­ed me what a priv­i­lege it is to edit a series that invites authors to share deeply per­son­al reflec­tions on what it means to be a Jew­ish writer — and to be Jew­ish, period.


I grabbed a copy of Wak­ing Lions by Ayelet Gun­dar-Goshen to read over a recent trip — I could­n’t put it down!

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