Wednesday, January 29, 2020

January 2020 Books #mylifeinbooks


I thought I'd give it a try to write short reviews as I go this year....let's see how well I can keep up!

The First Mrs. Rothschild - I enjoyed this look at a very interesting part of history, even if I thought the book itself was a little dry. I am always a fan of a book that takes the perspective of a woman that history may have overlooked.

Shouting at the Rain - a sweet middle-grade novel about friendship and loss. I preferred One for the Murphys but I thought this was a nice read from this author.

Finding Dorothy - I really liked this one - I am a big Oz fan, and while I'm pretty sure it's all entirely made up, it really just made me want to re-read Oz and re-watch the movie.

One of Us is Lying - A recommendation of a young friend, I really enjoyed this twisty Breakfast Club-inspired story. I'm less certain I need to read the sequel, but we'll see.

Mrs. Everything - Do we change for the world or does the world change us? I don't have a sister, and I find that I often gravitate toward sister stories - maybe I'm wondering what it's really like. I really enjoyed the exploration of female relationships and roles....

Allegedly - A recommendation of a former Confirmation student, WOW. This one kept me up late and I am still not sure how I feel about that ending...a dark, emotional, and pretty disturbing novel that really kept me on the edge of my seat!

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know - I really like this sort of popular writing about science-y ideas, I think Malcolm Gladwell writes interesting and thought-provoking stuff. I'm still wondering how to apply some of these ideas.

American Royals - After those previous books, I wanted something light and fluffy and I loved this one. It was so fun to imagine a different USA and to imagine royal life. (PS if you like this one, make sure you also read Red, White, and Royal Blue) I can't wait for the sequel!

The Forgotten Room - As I was reading this one, I kept saying, "I know how it will end" and then claiming that I wanted to see if I was right. I was only partially right, so I think I enjoyed the whole thing!

The Beekeeper of Aleppo - A hard look at the trek of one Syrian family as they leave war-torn Aleppo to seek asylum in the UK. Powerful and hard to read, it felt like a realistic portrayal of the horrible stories that cause people to set off into the unknown, hoping it is better than whatever they are leaving behind.

Tell Me Three Things - Yael is reading this one so I thought I'd jump on her bandwagon. It was a sweet story about a girl working through grief, which is always interesting to me. I'm fascinated by the number of YA novels that have anonymous texts/emails in them....what's that about?

What are you reading?
Follow me on Goodreads

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Books Read in 2019 #MyYearInBooks

So....about this time last year, I received a challenge from an unexpected source. A now-fifth grader, who really likes to read, announced that she was going to out-read me in 2019. (Her family are our dear friends, so this seemed like a pretty normal thing. Oh, and her parents are also rabbis...we do hang out in packs.)

Challenge accepted. After all, I can read 80 books in a year. I can beat a fifth grader, right?

It has actually turned out to be harder than you think! My young friend was very determined (and she might have a little more time on her hands than I do). A few weeks ago, we were neck-and-neck at 80ish books. I've been texting with her mom, and I'm excited to see her list for this year. It's been a lot of fun knowing that I was in competition with someone else, considering that I mostly just read for the fun of it! Also, I've been trying to decide how badly I want to win....Last night, we had a FaceTime call in which I conceded....and she continues to read on, hoping to hit her goal of 100 books (when we spoke, she was at 96). Since I have only hit 100 one year, I am totally impressed.

Winter Break was a great time to ignore everyone read all the books...but I didn't beat my young friend. I'm sure you're wondering what was on her list, and since she handwrote it, it will take us a little longer to share it. But hopefully it's coming!

Okay, so onto MY book list. I've had a great time with the reading thing this year, and perhaps inspired by my fifth grade friend, I read a lot of wonderful young adult and middle-grade fiction. There's some great stuff out there. I'm particularly intrigued by the diversity of relationships portrayed in these novels, and the gravity of the issues in these "kid" books.
  1. Dear Evan Hansen by Emmich, Val  
  2. The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker by Woods, Matilda  
  3. Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1) by Arden, Katherine  
  4. I Have Lost My Way by Forman, Gayle  
  5. The Alice Network by Quinn, Kate  
  6. Girl Made of Stars by Blake, Ashley Herring  
  7. The Button War by Avi
  8. Refugee by Gratz, Alan
  9. There There by Orange, Tommy  
  10. Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Auxier, Jonathan  
  11. All Three Stooges by Perl, Erica
  12. We Were the Lucky Ones by Hunter, Georgia  
  13. The Lost Girls of Paris by Jenoff, Pam  
  14. The Library Book by Orlean, Susan  
  15. Red, White, Blue by Carpenter, Lea
  16. The Girl They Left Behind by Veletzos, Roxanne  
  17. The Heart's Invisible Furies by Boyne, John
  18. Before We Were Yours by Wingate, Lisa  
  19. The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth by Krimstein, Ken  
  20. Two By Two by Sparks, Nicholas  
  21. Night of Miracles (Mason, #2) by Berg, Elizabeth
  22. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by Grann, David
  23. The American Agent (Maisie Dobbs, #15) by Winspear, Jacqueline  
  24. Marilla of Green Gables by McCoy, Sarah  
  25. All American Boys by Reynolds, Jason
  26. The Huntress by Quinn, Kate  
  27. The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, #1) by Albert, Melissa  
  28. What the Wind Knows by Harmon, Amy  
  29. The War I Finally Won by Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker  
  30. The Bookshop by Fitzgerald, Penelope
  31. The Latte Factor: Why You Don't Have to Be Rich to Live Rich by Bach, David
  32. Lost For Words by Butland, Stephanie  
  33. The Scent Keeper by Bauermeister, Erica  
  34. Wishtree by Applegate, Katherine
  35. Not Our Kind by Zeldis, Kitty
  36. Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Shapiro, Dani  
  37. The Farm by Ramos, Joanne  
  38. Red, White & Royal Blue by McQuiston, Casey  
  39. The Peacock Emporium by Moyes, Jojo  
  40. Holy Lands by Sthers, Amanda
  41. Antisemitism: Here and Now by Lipstadt, Deborah E.
  42. Love & Gelato by Welch, Jenna Evans
  43. The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Hillman, Robert
  44. The Waiting Room by Kaminsky, Leah  
  45. Jerusalem Maiden by Carner, Talia  
  46. The New Girl (Gabriel Allon #19) by Silva, Daniel
  47. The Tobacconist by Seethaler, Robert
  48. The Guest Book by Blake, Sarah  
  49. Five Feet Apart by Lippincott, Rachael  
  50. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Holmes, Linda  
  51. Ask Again, Yes by Keane, Mary Beth  
  52. The Girl He Used to Know by Garvis-Graves, Tracey  
  53. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Morris, Heather  
  54. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Grames, Juliet  
  55. The Testaments by Atwood, Margaret  
  56. The Third Daughter by Carner, Talia
  57. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Evans, Rachel Held
  58. Scythe by Shusterman, Neal  
  59. Graveyard Shakes by Terry, Laura  
  60. Everything is Figureoutable by Forleo, Marie  
  61. Resistance Women by Chiaverini, Jennifer  
  62. Viva, Rose! by Krawitz, Susan  
  63. Kindred by Butler, Octavia E.
  64. The Truth About Leaving by Blitt, Natalie  
  65. Red at the Bone by Woodson, Jacqueline  
  66. The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1) by Hoang, Helen  
  67. The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2) by Hoang, Helen  
  68. One Day in December by Silver, Josie  
  69. The Deserter by DeMille, Nelson  
  70. The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl by Gad, Marra B.
  71. I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Jones, Kimberly
  72. White Bird by Palacio, R.J.
  73. How to Be an Antiracist by Kendi, Ibram X.  
  74. The Gifted School by Holsinger, Bruce  
  75. Pet by Emezi, Akwaeke  
  76. The Downstairs Girl by Lee, Stacey  
  77. The Dutch House by Patchett, Ann
  78. The World That We Knew by Hoffman, Alice  
  79. Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Albom, Mitch  
  80. The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Robson, Jennifer  
  81. The Starless Sea by Morgenstern, Erin  
  82. Someday We Will Fly by DeWoskin, Rachel
  83. Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) by Shusterman, Neal  
  84. The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3) by Shusterman, Neal  
  85. Foolish Hearts by Mills, Emma
  86. This Adventure Ends by Mills, Emma
  87. Dry by Shusterman, Neal
  88. On the Come Up by Thomas, Angie  
  89. Things You Save in a Fire by Center, Katherine
  90. The Giver of Stars by Moyes, JoJo
  91. White Rose by Wilson, Kip
It's always so hard for me to choose favorites but a few that I would recommend....

Fiction recommendations:
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Farm
The Gifted School
The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
Evvie Drake Starts Over
Red, White, and Royal Blue

YA/Middle Grade Recommendations:
The Scythe Trilogy
On the Come Up (same author as The Hate U Give)
All Three Stooges
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Dry (but it might freak you out and also make you very thirsty)

Non-fiction/memoir recommendations:
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Antisemitism: Here and Now
The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl
How to Be an Antiracist
The Latte Factor: Why You Don't Have to Be Rich to Live Rich (totally biased on this one - it's by my cousin David!)

I've tried to diversify my authors/topics this year, and I'm open to suggestions! I have a natural bias toward books with a Jewish theme, obviously, but I really like opening my mind to new ideas, new stories, new cultural worlds. 

I'm looking forward to starting new lists for 2020...I keep track of my books on Goodreads - follow me there. What do you think I should read in 2020? What are you going to read? What was the best book you read in 2019?

Previous years' book lists are here (can you believe I've been doing this book-post thing for this long?)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

#blogelul #elulgram 4: choose


Beggars
can't
be
choosers,
or so we are told.

Take what you have
and make
something
of
it.

Choose
what you can.
Accept
what you
cannot
choose.

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with prayers of forgiveness, but I like to think of it as a whole-person preparation activity. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... I will be blogging here, and sharing #Elulgram photos on the same themes at imabima.tumblr.com and on Instagram @imabima. Follow me on twitter @imabima for all the #BlogElul posts, not only mine but others' as well! Read more about #BlogElul here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

#blogelul #elulgram 3: Prepare

Are we ever fully ready?
Each year, I notice that we're all
overwhelmed
busy
stressed

and we can't quite wrap our heads around the idea of
preparing
for
the
High
Holy
Days.

It's ominous.
They loom
large
over us.

But perhaps
preparation
is
a
gift
we give to ourselves.

When I take the time to
prepare myself
for the High Holy Days,
really
prepare
myself,
I know that
I am better.
The holidays are better.

I feel the words.
I breathe the music.
I do the work.

Preparation is a gift.

In Elul
we
unwrap
it.

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with prayers of forgiveness, but I like to think of it as a whole-person preparation activity. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... I will be blogging here, and sharing #Elulgram photos on the same themes at imabima.tumblr.com and on Instagram @imabima. Follow me on twitter @imabima for all the #BlogElul posts, not only mine but others' as well! Read more about #BlogElul here.

Monday, September 2, 2019

#blogelul #elulgram 2: seek


Looking forward
and back
I'm not
even sure
what I'm
looking
for.
Yet I continue
to play
the game.
Hide
and
seek.
I seek
without even
knowing
what
I'm
looking
for.

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with prayers of forgiveness, but I like to think of it as a whole-person preparation activity. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... I will be blogging here, and sharing #Elulgram photos on the same themes at imabima.tumblr.com and on Instagram @imabima. Follow me on twitter @imabima for all the #BlogElul posts, not only mine but others' as well! Read more about #BlogElul here.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

#blogElul #elulgram 1: Decide


What should I do?
I'm not sure.
I can't figure it out.
It's so
hard
to know
to understand
to see the big picture.
I'm paralyzed with
all the options.
Good?
Bad?
Red?
Blue?
There are so many
options
and
I
just
can't
decide.

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with prayers of forgiveness, but I like to think of it as a whole-person preparation activity. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... I will be blogging here, and sharing #Elulgram photos on the same themes at imabima.tumblr.com and on Instagram @imabima. Follow me on twitter @imabima for all the #BlogElul posts, not only mine but others' as well! Read more about #BlogElul here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

#BlogElul and #Elulgram for Elul 2019


#BlogElul is a project that I started in 2010, although it wasn't until 2012 that I created the list of topics. Since then, I haven't always completed the whole month of blogging, although I know that many of you have. I also know that the online world has changed so much since 2010, when blogging was one of the only ways to publish your online content easily.

Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and other platforms...so many ways in which to express ourselves and dive deeply into the themes of the High Holy Days. And so here we are….I've added #ElulGram to the #BlogElul family and the borders of this project are so wide that they reallly don't exist at all. This project is really whatever YOU want - however YOU want to spend your time preparing yourself for the holiest season in the Jewish calendar.

Elul -- that wonderful and terrifying month that precedes the High Holy Days. A month of introspection and considering, a month of personal reflection and preparation.

Who can participate? ANYONE. It's yours. I gift it to you. Elul is for anyone and everyone.

How could one do it? You don't have a blog… No worries. Maybe you have Facebook or Twitter? Maybe you're a big fan of Instagram? Be creative and find your own path! Maybe you don't want to do it daily. Maybe you just want to dip your toe into the experience, or just read (and share?) what others write. It's totally up to you. I always love to see the creative things that the #BlogElul community comes up with.

There are no rules. I provide the topics (see graphic or below for text) for each of the days of the month. Use the hashtag to share your post (I like to put it in my titles) and share other people's posts as well. This could be a way to revitalize your blog, kickstart a new project, or even just get yourself ready for the holidays! I know that lots of people use #BlogElul as a spiritual exercise each year, and I'm so proud to be a part of their yearly journey through Elul.

And what about #ElulGram? This one is even more interpretive. Photos, art, illustrations, quotes -- what kinds of images can you put together to explore and interpret these High Holy Day themes? You don't have to limit your picture-sharing to Instagram (even though I totally appropriated the name), you can use any image-sharing site you'd like, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Whatever you do, tag it with #ElulGram so we can call share and follow.

These themes and ideas are broad and open, and again -- remember, there are NO RULES except the ones you make for yourself!

And yes, I know that the dates include Shabbat. I personally don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat, but I will post before and after Shabbat. You can do whatever you like!

Are you going to play along? Let me know! Leave me a comment here, send me a tweet, or send up a signal fire.... Feel free to grab my pretty badge to announce to the whole world that you're Blogging Elul. If you let me know that you're doing it, we can cross-post, or guest-post, or even just do some virtual hand-holding as the days grow closer to Tishrei. I'll try to link to as many posts and pics as I can - won't it be amazing to all share in the Elul journey together?

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Elul begins on Sunday, September 1 (it's always on time), so I wanted to give you a head start if you're going to pre-write some of your posts. 

I hope that our shared preparation for 5780 brings meaning and hope, inspiration and enlightenment for all of us.

The list:
Elul 1: Decide
Elul 2: Seek
Elul 3: Prepare
Elul 4: Choose
Elul 5: Commit
Elul 6: Want
Elul 7: Understand
Elul 8: Hear
Elul 9: See
Elul 10: Forgive
Elul 11: Trust
Elul 12: Count
Elul 13: Remember
Elul 14: Learn
Elul 15: Plan
Elul 16: Pray
Elul 17: Awaken
Elul 18: Ask
Elul 19: Speak
Elul 20: Fill
Elul 21: Love
Elul 22: End
Elul 23: Begin
Elul 24: Hope
Elul 25: Change
Elul 26: Create
Elul 27: Bless
Elul 28: Give
Elul 29: Return