Beth El Congregation
Best Books of the Year, as Selected by Mosaic Authors
Spy games, catch-67s, lionesses, smugglers, patriots, setting suns, and more.
To mark the close of 2017, we asked a handful of our writers to name the best two or three books they read this year, and briefly to explain their choices. Their answers are below. (All books were published in 2017 unless otherwise noted.)
Misagh Parsa, Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed (Harvard, 416pp., $45). This history of the Islamic Republic is a reminder that the ayatollahs have been at war with the people of Iran since 1979. It is therefore also a reminder of whose side America must be on in that conflict.
The Best YA Novels with Jewish Protagonists
Rachel Lynn Solomon for Jewish Book Council
Growing up, I only saw Jewish protagonists in Holocaust literature. The kind of books I loved—realistic YA—occasionally had a main character with a Jewish friend, but that was it.
While I don’t believe we should ever stop writing about the Holocaust, for a long time, that was the only narrative I thought we had as Jewish people. People like me didn’t get to be protagonists. For a while, this stuck in my mind: the first four manuscripts I wrote before my debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, had no Jewish characters.
But there is so much richness to explore in a modern setting that hasn’t been explored nearly enough. The following novels feature my favorite representations of Judaism in contemporary realistic YA.
New Book Club Discussion Guide and the 2017-2018 National Jewish Book Club
Jewish Book Council
Aside from the book and your friends, asking questions about what you’ve read is, obviously, a key to any good book club. The right questions can keep your book club lively and engaged (and avoid any awkward silences). And since no one wants to sit through a book club discussion that is halting and uninspiring, we have discussion questions available for all of the titles below, plus some general questions that you can use to start a conversation on any book. CLICK BELOW for the complete selection of discussion questions.
The Best Novel of 2017 That You Never Heard Of
By Alexander Aciman for Tablet Magazine
Bookworm: Jacob M. Appel’s life-affirming elderly suicide novel ‘Millard Salter’s Last Day’ is a highwire act balancing tragedy and comedy
Hidden beneath a perplexingly nondescript book jacket is one of the best novels of 2017, Millard Salter’s Last Day by Jacob M. Appel. Millard Salter is a wry old New Yorker who after 75 mostly satisfying years wakes up on his birthday determined to leave the party fashionably early. With the exception of a single dodo son, Millard’s children are successful, his practice as a shrink is in good shape, and the state of his love life means he has likely contributed to the growing STI epidemic among senior citizens. What better moment to commit suicide?
30 Days, 30 Authors: Brenda Janowitz
Jewish Book Council
Today, Brenda Janowitz, author of The Dinner Party, tells us about the book that she couldn't put down.
When asked about my favorite books of all time, books that have moved me, books that I come back to over and over again, it’s a long list. After all, I love reading, and I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. In the second grade, I was dubbed “The Bookworm” by my teacher, Mrs. Pepper, and I can’t say that much has changed for me. I’m now the author of five novels, and I can still always be found with a book in my hand. Or on my desk. Or in my car. In addition to writing, I’m the PopSugar Books Consultant, so now, reading and recommending books is my job.
When someone asks me about my favorite books, there’s one book I always recommend. It’s a book that my best friend gave to me when I was in law school. At the time, I had my head firmly planted inside law books all day long and had very little time for pleasure reading. She asked me if I’d ever read Elinor Lipman before, and when I shook my head no, pressed a copy of The Inn at Lake Devine into my hands.