Sunday, January 31, 2010

Interview with Maggie Anton

This past Shabbat, my congregation welcomed Maggie Anton, author of the Rashi's Daughters books. She actually has speaking engagements lined up all over Chicago for the weekend, and throughout the Midwest in upcoming days. Since we were her first Chicago stop, though, I got to pick her up at the airport. Why is this exciting? Well, I took her out for lunch and asked her a lot of questions. After all, I have a blog and readers to entertain! I found our conversation to be so wonderful, it was such a delight to meet someone who is so interested not only in the study of Talmud, but in making it accessible to the usually-non-Talmud-studying public.

Our conversation was long and varied, so I tried to take notes as best as I could...

PAS: I read in your bio that you got into all of this because you were a voracious reader. Are you still? What have you read lately?

MA: I wrote the book that I wanted to read. But now I can't just read, it has to take me out of critique mode. Sometimes I treat it like research - seeing how a certain author did certain stuff. I liked Harry Potter, I really wanted to see how she ended the series. I just read City of Thieves and liked it.

PAS: Which is your favorite among the books and characters?
MA: I think Book 3 (Rachel) is the best-written. Not just because I had the most experience but because the editor at Penguin was a real editor. Almost every piece of advice changed the book for the better and made it a better book.

Book 2 (Miriam) has my favorite characters. I love Judah. I really got into him. I was determined to portray him in a sympathetic light. I don't have a favorite girl.

Book 1 (Joheved) is my favorite ending. Even today I read it and it brings tears to my eyes. The book had already gone to the publisher when I found new research about Brit Milah. If I didn't know something [if it wasn't available to be known historically], I would default to modern practice. I found out that Brit Milah was done on the mother's lap. The Brit Milah kiddush, the wine cup was held by the mother - she was an integral part of it. In those days, there were 2 parties for a Brit Milah - the mom's family threw the one before and the dad's family the one after. At the first party, the host from the mother's side would announce the name and blessing; he was a male representative of the mother. Rashi finally gets his male grandson and he gets to say the name and he has to make the blessing. What an emotional ending. I really love that ending. Both of my grandsons were circumcised on my lap.

PAS: I read your latest blog post (1/26/2010) about viewing the Talmud as legend or fact. Where would you say you fall on the spectrum, do you have an answer? *Maggie is currently researching 3rd and 4th century Babylonian sages, in particular Rav Hisda and his daughter. From her blog: "In the end, I realized that I was tired of 11th-12th France, that I wanted to immerse myself in another place and time. So for my next historical novel, tentatively titled RAV HISDA'S DAUGHTER, I'm moving back in time to 3rd-4th century Babylonia [Persia/Iraq]. I waited for the new year to let you all know, and I plan to devote most of 2010's blog posts to describing my research, and eventually, my writing process. I expect to devote myself to research for at least a year before beginning to write, although I already have some scenes in mind."

MA: Personally, I'm not sure. It's shocking for me to hear that they might all be legend! In the small research that exists, there are so many contradictions. If I'm going to write this [her next project], I will have to throw out inconsistent information. My characters are the people in the Talmud. I need to have the historicity correct, but how important were these sages? We know that they didn't answer criminal law, only small claims court. There was a whole other court system in place (in Babylonia). It's clear that they didn't have power. What I haven't decided is - How important do I make them? Did people see them as fruitcakes who have no influence on their lives? There are so many pieces.
(Ima's note: This became a much longer conversation about research and Talmud. I couldn't keep up taking notes and I wasn't recording the conversation. Suffice it to say - I had a great time!)

Regarding the research she's doing: A lot of the information I'm using has only been published or available in the last 20 years. Some of it has only been translated into English in the last 10 years.
Ima's note: This was also a really interesting conversation - how Maggie finds her materials, who is doing the research, how it gets disseminated and how she accesses it. She said that now the scholars have heard of her and what they typically say is: "my wife loves your books!" - and then they're willing to help her out.

I found Maggie to be incredibly passionate about the work she's doing, and incredibly passionate about spreading the concept of Talmud-learning into the Jewish world, in particular to the Progressive movements and to women. She spoke non-stop for almost an hour to my congregants, who sat enthralled. She almost never mentioned her books specifically, but instead spoke about Rashi and about Talmud and its implications for us. It was remarkable, and I'd love to give her free reign to teach for a whole day (I'll work on that for future events). For me personally, I loved hearing how she explained Rashi and the need for his commentary on the rather, um, shorthand (cryptic!?) language in the Talmud. It's so much fun to hear how someone else teaches something. I took a lot of mental notes for my next Talmud class!

Thanks, Maggie! I'm looking forward to your next visit (and your next book)!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

When the Weather is Frightful - Bake Cookies!

The 50th Kosher Cooking Carnival is up over at Me-Ander - go see lots of great food posts!

It's been really cold outside.

This is not a weather-rant post.

It's been really cold outside, and that gives me a yen to bake.

(Okay, some people would agree that perhaps I don't need an excuse.)

When my Vegetarian Times came last week, one recipe jumped out at me. I don't know why, but I had a desire to bake "Iced Oatmeal Cookies." Perhaps because the description said this: "To keep the icing for these chewy morsels from cracking, spread it on while the cookies are still hot."

Chewy Morsels?! Seriously!? I'm sold.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Slightly Adapted from Vegetarian Times

2 Tbs flaxseed meal
1 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs butter, softened (the original recipe called for vegan margarine)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (I used cranberries. But I think I'll like them EVEN better with raisins)

for icing: 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, 2 Tbs lemon juice

Stir together flaxseed meal and 3 Tbs water in small bowl. Set aside. Whisk together oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

Beat butter, and sugars together with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add applesauce, vanilla, and flaxseed mixture. Beat until smooth. Stir in oat flour mixture. Add oats and raisins, stir to combine. Cover and chill 2 hours (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Roll the dough into golf-ball size rounds and put them 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Flatten each cookie to 1/4 inch thickness with bottom of a drinking glass dipped in water. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies look dry on top and just begin to brown.

While they're baking, make the icing: whisk together the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth - it will be thick but spreadable. Gently brush on hot cookies with pastry brush. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Eat 'em warm, they're amazing.
Actually, eat them cooled and they're amazing too.

You can't eat just one! So delicious.

P.S. If you can get gluten-free oats, you can make your own oat flour by whizzing them in the blender. Then you can make this recipe gluten-free. If you're so inclined...or if you have a gluten-free lurker on your blog....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mandelbrot Follow-up

I made the mandelbrot again this week. I wanted to see if I could perfect the recipe.

My parents were both visiting for the day, and I used their expertise to make sure I was doing it right:

My mom, helping me to "get it right". 
I wanted to see what she thought they were supposed to look like at this stage, since I'd never seen it before!

I didn't toast the walnuts, this time. Tasted more authentic.

My parents brought some to my bubbie (the Spry version, not the oil version) and she called me in rapture: "Better than mine ever were!"

I think she's biased.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Proud Ima Moment

Here's my oldest child, counting all the coins in the "donate" section of his piggy bank to give to those in need in Haiti. It was almost $45! He was very proud that he could help out the kids in Haiti.

Check out this sweet post by my colleague and friend, Rabbi Paul Kipnes, about the beauty of "Kid Tzedakah".

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Inner Bubbie: Mandelbrot

One of the things that my Bubbie made all the time was mandelbrot. If you're not familiar with this cookie, it's basically a Jewish biscotti.

Confession: I'm not a huge fan.

I mean, I like them and all. But they're not my favorite. Too crunchy, too crumbly. Good, but not life-changing.

Confession #2: Not only have I never made them before, I have never seen anyone make them before.

Yep, never followed Bubbie around the kitchen for these puppies. I have perfected her carrot cake, so you can see where my priorities lie.

So when a request was made for mandelbrot, I had to go back to the source. I called my mom, who has both of my Bubbies' recipes (both are, thank God, still living, but neither one bakes any their mid-90s, both of them!)...and she scanned them in for me.

Bubbie Rose:

Bubbie Raye:

Both clearly well-worn and well-used recipe cards. What the heck is Spry? Turns out, it's like Crisco.

So, without any Spry, I knew that oil would be my fat of choice. Then I opened every single Jewish cookbook I own (I think there are about 10), enlisted my mom and my mother-in-law in their recollection of mandelbrot baking, and even made a phone call to Bubbie Rose while baking. I knew she'd kvell that I was making mandelbrot, and I figured it didn't hurt to question an expert...

So here's the recipe I adapted from a conglomeration of sources:

Traditional (?) Mandelbrot
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts lightly toasted
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together eggs, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Add 3 cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon. (Okay, Bubbie said "use a wooden spoon, or whatever you want to mix it.) Add more flour if you think it's too sticky. If you never made it before, don't add any extra flour because it's probably fine.

Add the chopped nuts, and stir them in.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment (or greased, but I'm a parchment gal), shape into logs. I think mine were a little too wide.

Bake for about 22 minutes. (The logs above are actually cooked, it's hard to tell.)
Remove from oven, and while hot, slice the logs, like so:
(According to my dad AND my mom, this is the time to "snitch" one off the cookie sheet. I agree. They're really good soft and hot.)

Turn the slices on their sides. Some people sprinkle here with cinnamon and sugar. Bubbie said "I never did that but I know that other people like to." When I questioned her about chocolate chips, she said: "Well, I don't like all that extra stuff in there. But some people like to." She's very open to alternative ideas, my bubbie. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until they're crunchy and brown.

And there you have your mandelbrot. Mine didn't last long, I brought them in for the Hebrew School teachers. They were well-received. They did not taste like Bubbie's as I recall them...maybe I'll have to try out some Spry.

I plan to make them again this week with my mom, so she can lend a more practiced eye. I think I would chop the nuts more finely, but others said that they liked that there was a bite to the nuts. This experience opened me up to a lot of things I've never made, let alone watched anyone else make. For example, I've never made rugelach, or teigelach, or even keneidlach. I've seen kreplach made, but never done it myself. What other great old Jewish foods are out there that I don't know how to make? I'm a hamantashen maven. I'm going to learn. Rugelach are next in the new series here at Ima on and off the Bima... "My Inner Bubbie." Stay tuned!

By the way, I heard that Creative Jewish Mom was hosting a link-up party for Jewish crafts and recipes today (tomorrow?) so I might update with a link over to that.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Overheard... (or...What's Been Keeping Me Busy

Yael: I want the Dora underpants.
Me: There aren't any Dora underpants, just choose from what's in the drawer.
Yael: You pick.
Me: Okay (coming over to the drawer)
Yael: Pick this one (points to a specific pair)
When I hand that pair to her she says:
"Good choice, Mom!!"


David got a book club order form. Browsing through it, he announced what he wanted to buy:
There's a thing that helps you learn to make your own money!
Me: Um, are you sure?
David: Yes, I'm sure - look! It says "Learn how to make money!" and then there's a picture of money with a thing that you push a button and it makes money!
Me: Um, Dave, it teaches you how to EARN money and lets you put your money in that thing
David: You mean it's like a piggy bank?
Me: Yes, it looks like that.
David: Well, I'm not spending my money on THAT.


Shabbat Shalom!
Here's a beautiful rendition of Psalm 150 to light up your Shabbat...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to Raise a Reader, Revisited

I've talked before about how much my kids love to read.

My oldest is definitely a reader.

to read.
All the time.

He does not love to write.
So we've embarked upon a new mother like son....
a blog.

(It helps that Zeyde offered to pay him 50 cents a post. The kid is making more money blogging than I am!)

If you're interested in being one of David's readers, feel free to drop me a line. He recently complained to me that he doesn't get very many comments. I must admit that I said "join the club, kiddo!"

I'm pretty excited to have another blogger in the house.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bread with Soup....Delicious AND green

I always think it's more "green" to make something yourself. Think you can't make bread? Here's the super-easiest-quickest bread to throw in the oven while soup is simmering on the stove. And delicious!

Beer Bread
(From an old issue of Women's Health magazine)

3 cups self-rising flour (I have read that you can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to one cup all-purpose flour if you don't have self-rising flour. But it's an easy thing to keep on hand.)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 can (12 oz) light beer at room temperature (I usually have bottled beer, I usually don't have light beer, and I don't always remember to get it at room temperature. It works.)
1 egg + 1 Tbsp water, beaten (last time, I doubled the recipe but I didn't double this part and it worked fine)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a bread-loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and beer. Pour into pan. Let sit until doubled in size, about 15 minutes.
Brush the top with egg mixture.
Bake for one hour or until you believe it's done.
Cool if you can wait.

If you make it with light beer, it's pretty low-cal.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Went great with vegetable soup!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Haveil Havalim #251: the Mazel Tov Chavi Edition!

haveil havalim

What's going on here today?
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
Please please please publicize HH on your own blog and share the news about it!

Big things have been afoot for Chaviva (and Tuvia) check out:
Chavi's Got News!
Swallowed Up in the Mikvah
Start Spreadin' the News!
Roundup: Engagement Ring, Cupcakes, AND MORE!

and go and wish them both a big Mazel Tov!!!

Now, for the rest of us with lives far less a somewhat random mishmash because that's how I've been feeling lately.

leah aharoni at Ingathered presents 5 Ways to Bring Moshiach
Coffee and Chemo's Rivka with a capital A has been Betrayed By My Breasts.
Geshmack Dvar Torah of the Week gives us Quantifying Rewards and Why Moshe?

My Right Word's Yisrael Medad offers up Judah Magnes Tries To Halt Arms To Hagana - in May 1948 and What Has Roth Wrought? and plays a fill-in-the-blank game: Let's Play Fill-in the Details
Letters of Thought's Mottel tells us about A Life Gone Meta.

Torah From Zion's Shmuel Sokol presents Can't destroy Israel? WIsh the Jews out of existence and thinks about Jewish geography in Uguguay and LSS, also Revisiting the fight against the expulsion. This one too: Battling Anti-Zionism On Israeli Campuses - An Interview with Steven Plaut of Haifa U. He also has this one...Chareidi Patrol: Vigilance or Vigilantism?

Tikkun Olam aka Lady-Light presents Maybe America Needs to "Israelify" it's Airports? and tells us about NaBloPoMo - I Succumbed in 2010 !!, also muses on The Jewish People vs Their Enemies: Quelle Différence. Here's another one from Lady-Light: Motzei Shabbat (NaBloPoMo - Day #2), and also a movie review: Great Movie (NaBloPoMo, Day #4). She also wonders: Is Janet Napolitano. . . Crazy? and I Trust 'em as Far as I Can Throw 'em and also PALIs Want Peace? Not Really. (nablopomo day#7)

Ilana-Davita writes about Jews in Postwar East Germany.
Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress is being funny with Fadichah and Heblish: Dynamic Edition

SimplyJews says that Yes, we are the light unto the nations, and its' final and Iraq to sue Israel over removal of Tammuz nuclear reactor.
Esser Agaroth shared Me'ir David Kahane, The Young  and  Do You Support The Jerusalem Post?, also tells us Why I Am Canceling My Likud Membership

Artzeinu is looking for opinions in: Our Pilot Trip: Please Comment On The Communities That We Will Be Visiting.

Batya presents Shoot First; Ask Questions Later and We Were Warned! posted at Shiloh Musings.
Israelity's harry offers Nostalgia Sunday – Sussita and Sabra and Rock around the clock.

Religion and State in Israel's Joel Katz presents Religion and State in Israel - January 4, 2010 (Section 1) and (Section 2).
Elms in the Yard's Rahel offers Interrogation.

The Rebbetzin's Husband AKA Mordechai Torczyner shares Like a Waving Flag and Kinder-Grind, Jewish style?
Frum N' Flipping thinks about Getting Dressed in Israel.

The Israel Situation wants to know what we can do about Iran Building More Tunnels Than Hamas, Has Nuclear Stuff In Them and Egypt Claims That US Supports Palestinian State in 2012.

Achas L'Maala V'Sheva L'Matta has a new makolet across the street: V'Chol Maasecha BaSefer Nichtavim: Big Brother is Watching...What I Eat  In the Pink's Hadassah Sabo Milner reminds us that Rabbis are guides not dictators!! and shares Walking down memory Lane / Proposals

Pacific Jewish Center's Rabbi Eliyahu Fink presents Can Criminals Change Their Ways? | Introduction to ?The Thief?
me-ander's Batya has Not Burnt Out, But... The Latest in the Saga.

Beneath the Wings shares RESOLUTIONS.
The Real Shliach says Yes we can!

Dolfin at Lionden Landing is planning ahead to Tu B'Shevat: Thinking of Spring.
Seraphic Secret's Robert J. Avrech writes Karen's Radar.

parshablog's Josh Waxman shares The Gra on the trup on Vayemararu et Chayeihem and also The repercussions of Moshe's oath.

That's all for this week's Haveil Havalim! Please link up so lots of people can share the Haveil Havalim fun... don't forget to submit your posts for next week.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Delicious Dinner for Me!!!

Early last year, I read The Six O'Clock Scramble, by Aviva Goldfarb. (I figure if I take the cookbook to read in bed, it counts as a book I read.) It's got a whole lot of great recipes, many of them vegetarian or adaptable to vegetarian. Truthfully, I didn't make any of the recipes. Truthfully, I took the book out of the library and marked a few recipes down that I wanted to try. And I never did.

As I was trying to think of what to make for dinner tonight, I found the pile of recipes that I've been jotting down, saving, etc. In there was this recipe for Chickpea Tomato Stew, which sounded just about right for dinner. Oh my goodness, it was here I share it with you, with my comments/modifications.

(adapted from Aviva Goldfarb)
Prep + Cook = 25 minutes
6 servings (okay, I'm not sure that it's really six. I think maybe 3-4 nice hearty servings.)

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 onion and 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped I used almost a whole onion, not so finely chopped, and two big tablespoons of minced garlic from a jar that I keep handily in my fridge.
• 2 teaspoons curry powder
• 1 teaspoon cumin (which I almost lost while making the recipe and helping with homework. I set it down near the math-doing child. Then spent 10 minutes looking for it and trying to decide if I could make the recipe without it because how did I suddenly run out of cumin. Then I found it.)
• 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
• 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes The can I used had chili peppers in it, I think.
• 1 cup prepared pasta sauce or tomato sauce I used Newman's Own Sockarooni which added quite a kick.
• sour cream for serving
• handful of fresh mint and/or fresh oregano for garnish (optional) I mean, you can, but I didn't bother.

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute them until they start to sizzle. Add the curry powder and cumin and cook the onions, stirring, for 1 more minute. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and pasta sauce or tomato sauce and simmer the stew for about 10 minutes. (During this time, run around looking for the cumin you misplaced.)

Serve it over couscous or rice, topped with a spoonful of sour cream. I used rice.

It was so darn good, I could have eaten the whole pan. Which would have, of course, defeated the purpose of the whole healthy-eating thing.

The kids ate pasta with the rest of the sockarooni sauce. No accounting for taste.

Here it is all set up in a re-usable container for tomorrow's lunch. Rice on the bottom. Sour cream in a little container to take with....yay!

 By the way, the Kosher Cooking Carnival is up over here at and I'll be hosting KCC in the near future (yay me!)...

Oh, and if you're interested in food these days, check out FrumeSarah, she's giving installments on her experiences at the Hazon Food Conference!

Don't you hate it when... start the car to warm it up and then go back into the house to wait.

A few minutes later, you spend

ten minutes


Sunday, January 3, 2010


I have an almost 3-year-old who really wants to be carried.

All the time.

Sometimes it requires a little negotiation.

My favorite shot from our end-of-year road trip.
What's your Best Shot Monday?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

93 in 2009 - What's on your bedside table?

Last year was the first time in my whole life that I ever started to keep track of all the books I've read. It was an eye-opening experience for me, because I never considered how many books I read. It's not about quantity, but it is so interesting to have a record. And I must admit that it's a tiny bit satisfying to add a book to my list. In case you're wondering, I keep it over there on the sidebar of my blog but I also keep a Google Doc going to keep track of the number and the date added. Maybe next year I should keep in a spreadsheet so I could someday sort all the books I've read, but in truth, I'm not that crazy-obsessive about this! I am also not interested EVER in reading a book a day for a year. But wow.

Here's my list for 2009: (* = Library Books, ** = Young Adult...I'll explain at the end)
  1. The Girl from Foreign by Sadia Shepard*
  2. The American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
  3. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter*/**
  4. Bonk by Mary Roach*
  5. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy*
  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows*
  7. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver*
  8. The 6 o'clock Scramble by Aviva Goldfarb*
  9. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh*
  10. As A Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg (technically a re-read but I think there's a 10 year statute of limitations on that)
  11. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield*
  12. 3 Willows by Anne Brashares*/**
  13. Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
  14. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  15. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
  16. Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo
  17. The Spare Room by Helen Garner*
  18. Daemon by Daniel Suarez*
  19. Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn*
  20. Who By Fire by Diana Spechler
  21. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  22. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert*
  23. The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz*
  24. All Other Nights by Dara Horn
  25. The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chivaerini*
  26. The Guardian by Julius Lester*
  27. The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi*
  28. Food Matters by Mark Bittman*
  29. My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen*
  30. Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center*
  31. The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule*
  32. City of Thieves by David Benioff*
  33. Because I Said So edited by Kate Moses & Camille Peri*
  34. The First & Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich by Howard Reich
  35. World Made By Hand by James Kunstler
  36. Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling*
  37. Snapshots by Michal Govrin
  38. The Gilded Chamber by Rebecca Kohn
  39. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix**
  40. Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman by Gary Morgenstein
  41. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
  42. School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  43. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
  44. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (okay this was a re-read. But how could I see the movie and then not re-read the book?)
  45. The Defector by Daniel Silva
  46. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan*
  47. True Colors by Kristin Hannah*
  48. Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman
  49. After the Train by Gloria Whelan */**
  50. Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli*
  51. Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein*
  52. Songs for the Butcher's Daughter by Peter Manseau*
  53. Rashi's Daughters Book 3 by Maggie Anton
  54. The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn
  55. Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (kindle)
  56. Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson
  57. Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman*
  58. Daughter's Keeper by Ayelet Waldman*
  59. Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn*
  60. Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin*
  61. Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
  62. Day After Night by Anita Diamant
  63. Table for Eight by Meagan Francis
  64. Hunting Eichmann by Neal Bascomb
  65. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson**
  66. The Summer Kitchen by Karen Weinreb*
  67. Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie
  68. The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit by Lucette Lagnado
  69. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  70. Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian*
  71. Looking for Anne of Green Gables by Irene Gammel*
  72. The Last Ember by Daniel Levin*
  73. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld */**
  74. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins **
  75. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins**
  76. The Best Old Movies for Families by Ty Burr*
  77. Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose*
  78. Connected: Surprising Power of Social Networks by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler*
  79. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman (kindle)
  80. Sent by Margaret Petersen Haddix**
  81. Frindle by Andrew Clement (kids)
  82. Choosing Up Sides by John H. Ritter*/**
  83. Lighting Their Fires by Rafe Esquith
  84. The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo */**
  85. Sword of the Lady by S.M. Stirling*
  86. What Happened to Anna K. by Irina Reyn*
  87. Book of Dahlia by Elisa Albert
  88. The Magicians by Lev Grossman*
  89. The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison*
  90. What's to become of the boy? or Something to do with books by Heinrich Boll*
  91. The Rabbi's Girls by Johanna Hurwitz**
  92. Delilah by India Edghill*
  93. Hunger: A Novella and Stories by Lan Samantha Chang* 
  94. Re-read of New Moon...doesn't really count but it made me happy - I considered ending the year by re-reading a whole bunch of books but didn't make it past New Moon on our year-end road trip...oh well!
So this year, for the first time, I decided to take a "challenge." I'm not sure why, because the two that I picked just reflect my reading style and therefore were not exactly a stretch for me. gotta start somewhere, right? Anyway, I decided to take on the Young Adult Challenge (read 12 Young Adult books) and the Support Your Local Library Challenge (read 25 books from the library). I nearly came up 1 short in the Young Adult Challenge but I slipped one in at the end of the year! I've actually read 51 books from the library, so I totally hit that one out of the park! When the librarians know you by name, you know you're doing fine in that department.

What did I like best this year? It's really hard for me to say. Some really great books came my way this year, and very few that I didn't like. I loved Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian and told a lot of people about it as I was reading it. Thanks to the librarian, actually, for handing me that one. I finally read The Book Thief, which the whole world was reading and I couldn't get into. It was great. You'll notice that I didn't count it as a "young adult" book. Many people said it fell into that category but I didn't agree. Definitely for grown-ups. I was haunted by The Mozart Question, a very short book that left me in tears. And of course, I could NOT put down Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I'm not-very-patiently waiting for Book 3 to come out! I've written a lot of book reviews this year, and I've led a lot of book discussions, and I'm sure some of that is reflected in my list. Do you think it's a well-rounded list?

(Someone asked me to tell them my favorite books, and so I put together this brief list of my favorites from the year....Animal, Vegetable Miracle; Shadow Divers; All Other Nights; School of Essential Ingredients; Bad Mother; Hunting Eichmann; Double Bind; Hunger Games/Catching Fire; NurtureShock...but truthfully, I'm really bad at picking "favorites" - I can't pick a favorite holiday, I can't pick a favorite Torah portion, I can't pick a favorite color for goodness sake!)

It's fun to read over the list and almost re-live the reading experiences of the year. For example, books 13-16 are four non-library books. Those are the four books that I read on my trip to Israel in February. Four books in 7 days but with 2 long plane rides...and book #42 was one that I borrowed from a friend while we were at camp. I had to finish it because she wanted it back before we left! Books 45, 53 and 62 were all pre-ordered from Amazon and I got that delicious thrill of forgetting that "today's the day" and arriving home to find the book! Book #85 was the most recent installment in a series of which I read in its entirety (up until now) last year!

Okay, enough analysis. What's on tap for next year? I'd like to read Socrates and the Fat Rabbis (isn't that a great title? My friend Eric recommended it), The Help (I've finally gotten my hands on a copy), Philippa Gregory's newest book, and....oh goodness, whatever comes my way, I suppose! I do have some non-fiction choices on my hold list at the library - Nicholas Kristof's book Holding up the Sky and also Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

What do you think I should read? What are YOU planning to read in 2010?

P.S. Have you hooked up the new Amazon Associates widget in Blogger? It's really an awesome way to link in all the books - I didn't feel like going back through the whole list but I went through all the other ones - it's a really neat system. Yay Amazon and Blogger!