Saturday, August 12, 2023

The Joys of Summer Reading

Between the extended hours of daylight, perhaps a lighter schedule, and some scheduled vacation, summer has always been an opportune time to read. We have fond memories of the Summer Reading Program at the local public library with special membership cards and charts and prizes, which included a game of bowling and a free frozen yogurt. We've always thought such incentive programs would work well for adults, but maybe with some more "mature" prizes.

Libraries and bookstores promote "beach reads." Interestingly, The Guardian did research and found that the term gained popularity in the 1990s. Over time, it began to describe a certain type of book, something that will have mass appeal and isn't particularly intellectually stimulating.

Our summer reading thus far does not fall into the "beach read" category:

First off, a recommendation for Wrath Becomes Her by Aden Polydoros (Inkyard, October 2023). We were lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the latest book by author of The City Beautiful - winner of the 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Adults. We were totally blown away by this book about a female golem that takes place in Lithuania during the Holocaust. Interesting characters, strong sense of place and time, and a denouement (fancy word for how the whole story is wrapped up) that kept us on the edge of our seats, refusing to put down the book until we were finished. Run out and get this one immediately! 

Another highlight has been Possession by A. S. Byatt, a 1990 Booker Prize Winner. Our friend Jennifer recently organized "The Long Book Club." For those who many be intimidated by a book that is over 300 pages, she decided the group would read a long book - 500+ pages, but that we would meet every two weeks to discuss about one hundred pages. It feels a little like taking a course and doing homework, but with this book, it is well worth the time and effort. No Jewish content, but tons of references, fancy words, interesting places, and mythology and marine biology. As we read, we marvel at the genius of Byatt for weaving it all together in a story of a Victorian romance and a contemporary one.

And then there's a children's Passover book - Workitu's Passover (Green Bean Books, 2023). It is "a story from Ethiopia" about the custom of Ethiopian Jews to break up their clay kitchenware before the holiday, "blend the fragments with most clay, and then create new containers from the mixture." Great illustrations complement the text, where Workitu is not happy because the family will break their dishes, but in the end, is happy to help her Auntie with the new creations.

Finally, the Real Cats of Israel have been trying to stay cool in the heat:

Happy Reading!

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