Book Club Reading Lists - 2006-2007

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
Tragic comic and utterly honest memoir.  Agreat family saga and a magical self-protrait of a writer who witnessed Israel's birth qand has lived through its turbulent history.  Winner of 2005 National Jewish Book Awards, Jewish Book of the Year.

The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky by Karen Tulchinsky
Set in Toronto, the story of a womanizing , world-champion boser whose life unfolds against the backdrop of the Depression, the Christie Pits Riot and  WWII.

The History of Love by Nicloe Krauss
A stirring soulful novel speaking to our own losses and loves, it tells the stroy of how a willful act of imatination can bring lost worlds and lost friends back to life.

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander
An astonishing debut collection of stories, powerfully inventive and often haunting steeped in the weight of Jewish history and in the custome of Orthodox life.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Hailed in North AMerica and Europe as along lost masterpiece. Set in 1940 Paris, it focuses on individual human dramas with compassion and clarity.

Yekl: and other Stories of the New York Ghetto by Abraham Cahan
Captures the sights sounds and soul of New York's Lower East Side and the immigrants it welcomed and tells stories that inspired the movie Hester Street.

A Simple Story by S. Agnon

The March by Doctorow 14.95 pbk

Like Never Before by Ehud Havazelet

The Sabbath by A. J. Heschel

The namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri 14.00 pbk

Foiglman by Aharon Megged

Ten Thousand Lovers by Edeet Ravel 13.00 pbk

Joy Comes in the Morning by Jonathan Rosen 14.00 pbk

The Liberated Bride by A.B. Yehoshua

Alexy, Trudi. The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot: Oral Histories Exploring 500 Years in the Paradoxical Relationship of Spain and the Jews. New York: Simon & Schuster, c1993; ISBN: 0671778161; $5.20
A multidimensional look at Judaism and Spain—a land infamous for its medieval anti-Semitism but as yet unheralded as a haven from Hitler. Includes oral histories of Jews in the Holocaust and of Crypto-Jews in New Mexico.

Anton, Maggie. Rashi’s Daughters, Book 1: Joheved. Glendale, Calif.: Banot Press, c2005; ISBN: 0976305054 (pbk.: bk. 1); $10.85
Set in 1068 in Medieval France, Rashi’s Daughters is a historical novel about learning, faith, and love. Winemaker and Talmud scholar Rashi dares to teach the Talmud to his three daughters when women were forbidden an education. As the eldest finds her mind and spirit awakened, she knows she must keep her knowledge hidden, even from her husband; but finally the choices she makes during crisis fractures the line between love, image, and selfhood.

Beer, Edith Hahn. The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived The Holocaust. New York: Rob Weibach Books/William Morrow, c1999; ISBN: 068816689X; $11.20
Edith recounts her incredible life as a law student in pre-World War II Vienna who has to go underground and emerges with a Christian persona as Grete Denner. She marries a Nazi officer in Germany, later becomes a judge in the post-war period and spends the rest of her life in England and Israel.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, c2005; ISBN: 0618329706; $15.72
Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old budding inventor, spends his time imagining wonderful creations. When his father dies in the World Trade Center collapse, Oskar shifts his boundless energy to a quest for answers. As in Everything Is Illuminated, Foer takes a dark subject and works in offbeat humor with puns and wordplay.

Gur, Batya. The Saturday Morning Murder: A Psychoanalytic Case. New York: Aaron Asher Books, c1992; ISBN: 0060190248; $9.02
Who shot eminent Jerusalem psychiatrist Eva Neidorf just before she was to deliver a Saturday morning lecture on “Some Aspects of the Ethical and Forensic Problems Involved in Analytic Treatment?”

Krauss, Nicole. The History of Love: A Novel. New York: Norton, c2005; ISBN: 0393060349; $11.16
The History of Love spans a period of over sixty years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At the center of each main character’s psyche is the issue of loneliness, and the need to fill a void left empty by lost love.

Ochs, Vanessa. Sarah Laughed: Modern Lessons From the Wisdom and Stories of Biblical Women. New York: McGraw-Hill, c2005; ISBN: 007140290X; $11.53
A retelling of the stories of the matriarchs, each one becomes a wellspring of insights that can empower modern Jewish women to think and act differently. Director of Jewish Studies at the University of Virginia, Ochs uses her own research to shed light on gaps in the biblical stories. While focused on the narratives, she chooses to combine an inspirational self-help message with Jewish lore and the testimony of modern female friends.

Timerman, Jacobo. Prisoner Without a Name, Cell without a Number. New York: Vintage Books, 1982, c1981; ISBN: 0394751310; $17.95
At two in the morning of April 15, 1977, twenty armed men in civilian clothes arrested Jacobo Timerman, editor and publisher of a leading Buenos Aires newspaper. Thus began thirty months of imprisonment, torture, and anti-Semitic abuse. His testimony is gripping in its human stories, not only of brutality but of courage and love.

Wiesel, Elie. The Trial of God: A Play in Three Acts. New York: Schocken Books, c1995; ISBN: 0805210539; $10.40
As with all of Elie Wiesel’s work, the central premise of this work is to explore the question of Jews and their suffering throughout history. The Trial of God is a departure from his better-known works, in that it is a drama, a play staged during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Based on events that Wiesel witnessed while in Auschwitz, The Trial of God accuses the Creator of the Universe of being guilty of neglect of his chosen people. And even though the trial takes place in a seventeenth century Ukrainian village, the modern world is very much alive in the facts and accusations.

Anton, Maggie. Rashi’s Daughters, Book 1: Joheved. Glendale, CA: Banot Press. 2005. ISBN: 09763050-5-4
Much has been written about Rashi and his grandsons, but almost nothing of his daughters. Rashi’s Daughters tells the story of these forgotten women who, according to legend, were learned in a time when women were forbidden to study the sacred texts.

Bawer, Bruce. While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Detroying the West from Within. Broadway Publishing. February, 2007. ISBN: 0767920058.
The story of one American’s experience in Europe before and after 9/11, and of the author’s many arguments with Europeans about the dangers of militant Islam and America’s role in combating it.

Horn, Shifra. Four Mothers: A Novel. New York: Picador. 1996. ISBN: 0312263236.
Tells the story of five generations of women, in one family, against the background of one hundred years in Jerusalem.

Yehoshua, A.B. A Woman in Jerusalem. Harvest Books. August, 2007. 015603194.
A woman in her forties is a victim of a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem market. Her body lies nameless in a hospital morgue. A human resources man is at first reluctant to take on the job of identifying her, but as the facts of the woman's life take shape, he yields to feelings of regret, atonement, and even love.

Goldsmith, Martin. The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany. New York: Wiley. 2001. ISBN: 0471078646
Set amid the growing tyranny of Germany’s Third Reich, this is the tale of two courageous Jewish musicians who struggled to perform under unimaginable circumstances and found themselves falling in love in a country bent on destroying them. A true story of NPR culture commentator/author Goldsmith’s parents.

Yellin, Tamar. The Genizah at the House of Shepher. Toby Press. 2005. ISBN: 1592640850.
Returning to her grandparents' home in Jerusalem after an absence of many years, an English biblical scholar stumbles into the mystery of an ancient and valuable manuscript of the Bible which has been discovered in the "genizah" or attic. In uncovering the truth about the manuscript, she reveals her family, and at the same time struggles to answer questions about the manuscript.

Jewish Folk Tales and Legends: Our reading circle members will choose a Jewish folk/legend topic and present a folk tale or legend of their choice.

Pinsky, Robert. The Life of David. Schocken. 2005. ISBN: 0805242031.
In The Life of David, Robert Pinsky brings the biblical figure of David to life, teasing apart the many strands of his story—leader, outlaw, poet, warrior, son, father, lover—and then weaving them together into a vibrant biography of this most celebrated biblical king. (This discussion will be in conjunction with a special program—One Book—One Congregation).

Abraham, Pearl. The Seventh Beggar. New York: Riverhead, 2005. ISBN: 1573222852. $25.95.
An unusual tale focusing on a yeshiva student's obsession with Nachman of Bratslav and the effect of Nachman's writings on him and his observant family. Combining the art of storytelling and imagination, this creative, out-of-the box work will fascinate some and confuse others.

Goldreich, Gloria. Walking Home. Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: Mira, 2005. ISBN: 0778321096. $12.95.
When successful public relations expert Rochelle Weiss needs to devote herself to her dying parents, she becomes a dog walker in order to earn money. Interesting character observations of family and social dynamics in the quick paced, post Holocaust world.

Goldstein, Jan. All That Matters. New York: Hyperion, 2004. ISBN: 140130110X. $17.95.
Jennifer attempts suicide but her dynamic grandmother, Gabby, helps her overcome depression with the love and strength an elderly Holocaust survivor can convey. Author is a male rabbi who writes with sentimentality and caring.

Marson, Bonnie. Sleeping With Schubert. New York: Random House, 2004. ISBN: 1400060419. $21.95.
The unusual, but seemingly real story of Liza Durbin, a young attorney, who suddenly finds that Franz Schubert is inhabiting her body. She becomes a sensational pianist, experiences attempts by professional musicians and her family to run her life, and begins to sort out what the future will bring. We played a Schubert CD during the discussion and that added to the ambiance.

Ozick, Cynthia. Heir To The Glimmering World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. ISBN: 0618470492. $24.00.
A quirky, but fascinating pre World War II cameo of the Mitwissers, a German refugee family of intellectuals and Rose Meadows, the young woman they hire to be a nanny, teacher, professor's assistant, confidante. Rose, who is the narrator, grows in the process and at the end looks forward to her independence and dreams.

Richler, Nancy. Your Mouth Is Lovely. New York: HarperCollins/Ecco, 2002. ISBN: 0060096780. $13.95.
In a work of historical fiction Miriam, who was sentenced to life in prison in Siberia, after the Russian Revolution of 1905, writes to her young daughter now living with a relative in Canada.. Richler portrays the difficulties of shtetl life and the role of women and revolutionaries. Winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction.

Rosen, Jonathan. Joy Comes In The Morning. New York: Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2004. ISBN: 0374180261. $25.00
Deborah Green is a Reform rabbi who experiences an identity crisis in this contemporary novel of life in the fast lane. Her relationship with Lev Friedman, whose Holocaust survivor father is a hospital patient she visits, proves to be a catalyst for both Deborah and Lev to evaluate their roles and purpose in life. Winner of the Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction.

Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. ISBN: 0618509283. $26.00.
A powerful tale of what would have happened if Charles Lindbergh had been elected president of the United States in 1940. Roth brings vivid images and recreates the feelings of a young Philip as the world entered World War II. The chapter on the family's visit to Washington is stunning.

Russell, Mary Doria. A Thread of Grace. New York: Random House, 2005. ISBN: 0375501843. $25.95.
The compelling novel brings to life the horrors of war during attempts to shelter Jews in Italy after Mussolini's death. Richly drawn personalities and historic detail, along with a listing of characters and maps (some towns are imaginary), add to the force of this intense, riveting work.

Silva, Daniel. Prince of Fire. New York: Putnam, 2005. ISBN: 0399152431, $25.95.
The Israeli embassy in Rome is bombed and art restorer/spy, Gabriel Allon is called to find the terrorists. In turn, he becomes hunted and his wife's life is threatened. This mystery captures the world of espionage that seems to dominate today's headlines.

Turow, Scott. Ordinary Heroes. New York: Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2006. ISBN: 0374184216. $25.00.
Stewart Dubinsky learns of his father's World War II court martial after David Dubin dies at age 88. In piecing together what happened, Stewart finds family secrets and also uncovers what his parents endured during the bitter winter of 1944-1945 in war-torn Europe. Contains some very moving battle scenes.

Yezierska, Anzia. Bread Givers. New York: Persea, 2003 (third edition). ISBN: 0892552905. $8.95.
Published more than 80 years ago, this novel portrays immigrant life on the Lower East side and the struggles that Sara has to endure. She breaks out of the mold, going to school and becoming a teacher, while rebelling against the restrictions established by a man's world, especially the tyranny of her old world father.

Blum, Jenna. Those Who Save Us. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. ISBN: 0156031663. $14.00
Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. ISBN: 0618711651. $13.95
Oskar Schell, the nine-year-old son of a man killed in the World Trade Center attacks, searches the five boroughs of New York City for a lock that fits a black key his father left behind. By the author of Everything is Illuminated.

Lederman, Amy Hirshberg. To Life! Jewish Reflections on Everyday Living. Tucson, AZ: Aliyah Publishing, 2004. ISBN: 097614560X. $17.95
A heart-warming collection of stories about life which speak to the heart of any reader who wants to discover the richness and relevancy of Jewish wisdom in today’s world.

Lelyveld, Joseph. Omaha Blues: A Memory Loop. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. ISBN: 0312425104. $14.00
The son of a Cleveland rabbi dives into his family history, presenting a candid but compassionate portrayal of his father, who walks a tenuous line between his politics and his public role as a clergyman, and his mother, a Shakespearean scholar whose independence causes strife in the family.

Liebrecht, Savyon. Good Place for the Night: Stories. New York: WW Norton & Company, 2006. ISBN: 0892553200. $14.00
A collection of seven thematically linked stories about Israelis in love and in trouble far away from home includes the tales of a woman living in Hiroshima who becomes involved in a love triangle, and an Israeli journalist in Munich who covers the trial of a Nazi war criminal.

Megged, Aharon. Foiglman. New Milford, CT: Toby Press, 2003. ISBN: 159264032X. $19.95
First published in Israel in 1987, this is the story of Shmuel Foiglman, a Holocaust survivor and a poet living in Paris, and Zvi Arbel, a history professor in Tel Aviv.

Oz, Amos. A Tale of Love and Darkness. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. ISBN: 015603252X. $16.00
A life story of the award-winning author recounts his boyhood in war-torn Jerusalem of the 1940s and 1950s, his mother’s tragic suicide when he was twelve, his decision to join a kibbutz and change his name, and his participation in Israel’s political upheavals.

Suberman, Stella. The Jew Store. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 1998. ISBN: 1565123301. $13.95
The biography of Aaron Bronson, a small store owner in Concordia, Tennessee in the 1920’s, written by his daughter.

Suberman, Stella. When It Was Our War. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2003. ISBN: 1565124030. $23.95
In the sequel to The Jew Store, Suberman carries her autobiography through World War II and marriage to Jack Suberman, her husband for 60 years.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Random House Children’s Books, 2006. ISBN: 0375831002. $16.95
Living with a foster family in Germany during World War II, a young girl struggles to survive her day-to-day trials through stealing anything she can get her hands on, but when she discovers the beauty of literature, she realizes that she has been blessed with a gift that must be shared with others, including the Jewish man hiding in the basement.

Goodman, Allegra. Intuition. New York: Dial Press, 2006. 0-385336128. $25.00.
This story of the world of labs and research explores the “intricate mixture of workplace intrigue, scientific ardor, and the moral and ethical consequences of a rush to judgment.”

Horn, Dara. The World to Come. New York: WW. Norton & Co. 2006, 0-393-05107-2. $24.95.
Because he remembers seeing it hanging in his parents' house, a lonely former child prodigy who now writes questions for quiz shows steals a million dollar painting by Marc Chagall.

Halter, Marek. Sarah. New York: Crown, 2004. 1400052726. $24.00
Part of a trilogy, this is a highly fictional look at the biblical story of Sarah and Abraham, told from a feminist point of view.

Krauss, Nicole, The History of Love. New York: WW. Norton & Co. 2005. 0-393-06034-9. $23.95.
Alma, a 14-year-old New Yorker, searches for the story behind her name with the help of a book called The History of Love.

Telushkin, Rabbi Joseph. Heaven’s Witness. New Milford, CT. The Toby Press, 2004. 1-59264-091-5. $19.95.
Could the prime witness to a brutal murder have been born years after the crime was committed?

Roth, Philip. Everyman. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006, 0-618-73516-X. $24.00.
Roth imagines what would have happened if the renowned aviation hero and virulent anti- Semite Charles Lindbergh had defeated Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, causing fear to invade every Jewish household in America.

(Go to to view all book club selections from 1993)

Bloom, Stephen. Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America. Harcourt, 2000. ISBN: 0151006520. $14.00 paper.
A study of the clash of cultures which occurs when a group of Lubavitcher Hasidim come to Postville, Iowa to open a kosher packing house in the midst of a sleepy, mostly Lutheran town.

Cohen, Rich. Sweet & Low: A Family Story. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. ISBN: 0374272298. $14.00 paper.
The story of the founding of Sweet'N Low by the disinherited grandson. The family's rancorous history is turned into a gripping memoir: a small classic of familial triumph, travail and strife, and a parable about the pursuit and costs of the American Dream.

Duffy, Peter. The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Saved 1,200 Jews and Built a Village in the Forest. HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN: 0066210747. $14.95 paper.
The Bielski brothers formed makeshift forest community in what is now Belorus, rounded up and rescued Jews and formed brigade to fight Nazis.

Foer, Janathan Safran. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. ISBN: 0618329706. $13.95 paper.

Oskar Schell, a precocious 9-year-old New Yorker whose father died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 is obsessed with finding out who owns a mysterious key he found in his father's closet.

Horn, Dara. The World to Come. W. W. Norton, 2006. ISBN: 0393051072. $13.95 paper.
Through the many lives touched by a stolen Chagall, this rich novel explores adolescent trials, adult betrayal and the nature of art.

Kanon, Joseph. Alibi: A Novel. Henry Holt and Co., 2005. ISBN: 080507886X. $14.00 paper.
An historical thriller set in postwar Venice. A de-Nazification investigator just released from the American Army is suspicious of the new man in his socialite mother's life. The unintended consequences of this investigation lead to murder.

Obejas, Achy. The Days of Awe. Ballantine Books, 2001. ISBN: 034543921X. $14.00 paper.
A Jewish-Cuban-American novel that deals with questions of faith, conversion, nationality and history, The author, born in Cuba and raised in Chicago discovers that her father is Jewish, the grandson of a flamboyantly Jewish hero of the Cuban war of independence; her mother, though devoutly Catholic, has Jewish ancestors, too.

Oz, Amos. A Tale of Love & Darkness. Vintage UK, 2004. ISBN: 0701174218. $16.00 paper.
One of Israel's most acclaimed novelists weaves his history and that of the state of Israel, often returning to his mother's suicide when he was 12. This wound shapes his self-discovery and his path toward becoming a writer.

Reisman, Nancy. The First Desire: A Novel. Pantheon, 2004. ISBN: 0375423087. $13.95 paper.
In 1929 Goldie, the eldest of Abe Cohen's five children, walks out of the family's house in Buffalo and disappears without explanation. The Cohens' estranged lives over the next two decades emerge episodically through alternating chapters.

Silva, Daniel. The English Assassin. Putnam, 2002. ISBN: 0399148515. $7.99 paper.
An art restorer who doubles as an Israeli spy becomes entangled in a series of murders.