3... 2... 1... Raid the Shelves!
Some of the books I bought at the Jewish Book Council's Raid the Shelves event, and a book club announcement!
📣 Bookworms, this week’s drop is for you.
I recently went to the Jewish Book Council’s Raid the Shelves, an annual event where for just $25, you can buy as many books as your Jewish heart desires. It’s one big celebration of Jewish literature, or at least a dumping ground for their books they had lying around that weren’t selling, I’m not sure.
From Israel to the Holocaust, some books are more overtly Jewish than others, like Be Strong and of Good Courage by Dennis Ross and David Makovsky. Others are featured because they’re written by a Jew, like Alan Zweibel’s memoir. Which is what makes it fun! You never know what you’re going to get!
I left with 10+ books. Here are some of the books I bought and what I’m excited to read. Plus, scroll down for an exciting announcement about a Shabbat Drop book club.
Whoever said don’t judge a book by its cover is (sometimes) wrong, because when I saw this beautiful book with its unique title sitting atop a pile in the memoir section, I instantly had to see what it was about. It’s got everything I love: history, a badass female protagonist, and a glimpse of Jewish life in a part of the world where you’d least expect: Japan! Ezra Choueke was inspired to document his grandmother’s life, having grown up in Aleppo, Syria, becoming a child bride, and moving to Japan during WWII. Out of the books I picked up off the “shelves,” I’m most excited to read this one.
Most of the books I picked up were memoirs, and this seemed like another powerful one. It’s the year-long journey of a daughter reciting kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, for her father twice daily in synagogue, even when she travels for work across the country. I always find stories of reciting kaddish an interesting predicament when you’re a woman (because typically the son recites it) or you just don’t want to (kaddish.com anyone?).
You know the name… but do you know the betrayal? I hadn’t heard of how the Franks’ hiding place was betrayed to the Nazis. A part of me isn’t sure I want to go down this rabbit hole of an investigation. Let the past be the past and focus on Anne’s writings and her legacy. But maybe uncovering who betrayed her and her family will bring a sense of justice, and at the very least, will keep Anne in my mind. (Not pictured: I bought an adorable children’s book called The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank, which is her story told through the eyes of her real cat, Mouschi. Anyone else buy Jewish books for their future children, or is it just me?)
How about something happy for a change: recipes! Not-so-fun fact: I had the chance to have breakfast with Adeena Sussman in Tel Aviv last summer but declined because I didn’t know who she was at the time. Sad. A year later, I grabbed her cookbook off the shelf, went home, and made her “fish in yogurt sauce.” It was a very tasty dish, though the sauce was a little thick and pasty, but that was probably my fault, not Adeena’s. She’s coming out with a new cookbook on Shabbat recipes next month, which I’m looking forward to!
Want to discover more Jewish books? Check out the Jewish Book Council’s recommended reading lists here.
Announcing: The Shabbat Drop Book Club
Speaking of reading lists… if you’ve made it all the way down here, you deserve an exciting announcement! The Shabbat Drop is starting a virtual Jewish book club. No matter where you are in the world, we’ll meet quarterly to discuss all types of Jewish books, from memoirs to fiction to books on antisemitism, you name it.
The first book club meeting will be on Sunday, October 15th at 5pm ET. We’ll discuss Here All Along, Sarah Hurwitz’s (former Obama speechwriter) memoir of re-discovering her Judaism at 36. See, it’s never too late, people! I found this book at my friend’s apartment and the summary reminded me a lot of my own journey, except I’ve never written a speech for President or Michelle Obama. RSVP below to save the date!
What Jewish books are you currently reading? Shabbat Shalom!