Friday, September 18, 2009

High Holiday Weekend Reading

Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown, officially kicking off the high holiday season. In honor of the New Year, I'm recommending books by some of my favorite Jewish authors.

Of course, I'd begin with Phillip Roth, one of my favorites. I first read PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT in college and it blew me away. I thought, "You mean, all Jewish mothers are overbearing and don't have boundaries?" I then read the trilogy of AMERICAN PASTORAL, I MARRIED A COMMUNIST, and THE HUMAN STAIN. All great books, but the next Roth book that really left me breathless was PLOT AGAINST AMERICA. I loved the alternate history and his clever story line.

For a glimpse into the lives of Orthodox Jews in Chicago, pick up CROSSING CALIFORNIA by Adam Langer. It is a great exploration of the northwest side neighborhood, and since I came from a family of Orthodox Jews, it was exceptionally poignant.

Myla Goldberg's BEE SEASON is one of my favorite books of all time. It is an authentic, well crafted story, not to mention beautifully written. This coming of age novel explored Jewish mysticism, parental pressures, and sibling relationships. I picked up BEE SEASON when it first came out, didn't put it down until I finished, and have re-read the book several times since.

There are hundreds of great Jewish authors - E.L. Doctorow, Paul Auster, Studs Terkel - but these are a few of my favorites. Feel free to comment with yours and have a happy new year!

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