Saturday, June 2, 2012
Summer Reading Suggestions
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
A really wonderful book (by one of my favorite authors) about the fall of Masada – from the perspective of four women. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to live in an experience that you knew was going to have a terrible end…and this book really made me feel like I was there. Even if you’ve never visited Masada, I think you will be able to feel the desert air!
Alice’s Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer by Melissa Muller*
(Alice is not a relation, as far as I know!)
This book is a biography of the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor. Alice was a great pianist, and she played all through the war in the "concert halls" of Theresienstadt. Her story of survival is truly remarkable, and I was uplifted by her story even in the midst of the sadness and despair. She talks a lot about Chopin's etudes that she played in concert in Theresienstadt and I had to take a few moments to look them up. I was amazed at the skill it takes to play those pieces.
Here she is, playing at the age of 106:
I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits*
If you have read or heard of the book Unorthodox, you might be interested to note that in some ways this is a fictional exploration of similar themes. This story is not quite as modern, however, as its main characters are child survivors of the Holocaust. The struggles of the post-war community and the yearning to replenish the Jewish people come into play in this page-turning story of love and loss. I could not put this book down - it was gripping and powerful. Although it could have been a condemnation of Chasidic Judaism, it didn't feel that way. The story explored hard themes within the Orthodox community but didn't only judge unfavorably, and for that I was grateful. This book has gotten a lot of press, and it is a worthwhile read! The writing is poetic and lovely, and the characters are rich and full.
My Russian Grandmother and her American Vacuum Cleaner by Meir Shalev
Meir Shalev is an Israeli writer of fiction who now tells part of his family’s own story through his wonderful writing. His grandmother’s obsession with cleanliness leads to a gift of a big shiny American vacuum cleaner (which she calls a "svieeper" aka "sweeper") from a family member in the United States. But the vacuum gets dirty on the inside, she realizes, and so how could she ever use it!? A sweet and lovely memoir about life in the early days of the State of Israel, this book charmed me from the beginning!
*Disclosure: I received a review copy of each of these books but was not otherwise compensated for my reading. If you want to send me books, I like that.
What are you planning to read this summer? I'm so excited for the new Daniel Silva book, the new Deborah Harkness book, and a whole bunch of other books that I can't wait to read! I also want to read Bloom and The Innocents and Let's Pretend this Never Happened.
Give me your best suggestions in the comments!
Written by Phyllis Sommer at 10:50 PM
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I'm a Meir Shalev fan - I heard him speak a few years ago at Rutgers about his grandmother and her vacuum cleaner. He was hilarious. I don't love all his books, but this one sounds charming.
Thank you for the new book suggestions. Just added them to my GoodReads so I can remember what I want to check out this summer.
Coming late to the party, but wanted to thank you for the book suggestions.
Let's Pretend This Never Happened is absolutely hysterical and a quick read.
I'm also completely wrapped up in the Game of Thrones books (currently on #4).
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