Books On My Reading List This Week

Read Along with Me

I’m working through another great reading list this week, albeit a shorter one than last week.

My first read is Chicken Dreaming Corn by Roy Hoffman explores the Jewish experience living on the Gulf Coast. This is a history I’m interested to learn more about since I recently relocated to the Gulf Coast area.

My second read is one I return to annually, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. The book centers on Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob’s to be mentioned in the book of Genesis. While she is only briefly mentioned in the biblical text, Diamant brings her story, along with the

other women of Jacob’s tribe, to life in a study of womanhood. It’s a book I pick up every year, when the corresponding parsha comes up in the Torah cycle. Every time I read it, I take away something else from it.

What’s on your reading list this week?


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Books This Week

Chicken Dreaming Corn by Roy Hoffman
Click the image to find it on Amazon

In 1916, on the immigrant blocks of the Southern port city of Mobile, Alabama, a Romanian Jewish shopkeeper, Morris Kleinman, is sweeping his walk in preparation for the Confederate veterans parade about to pass by. “Daddy?” his son asks, “are we Rebels?” “Today?” muses Morris. “Yes, we are Rebels.” Thus opens a novel set, like many, in a languid Southern town. But, in a rarity for Southern novels, this one centers on a character who mixes Yiddish with his Southern and has for his neighbors small merchants from Poland, Lebanon, and Greece.

As Morris resides with his family over his Dauphin Street store, enjoys cigars with his Cuban friend Pablo Pastor, and makes “a living not a killing,” his tale begins with glimpses of the old Confederacy, continues through a tumultuous Armistice Day, and leads up to the hard-won victories of World War II. Along the way Morris sells shoes and sofas and endures Klan violence, religious zealotry, and financial triumphs and heartbreaks. With his devoted Miriam, who nurses memories of Brooklyn and Romania, he raises four adventurous children whose own journeys take them to New Orleans and Atlanta and involve romance, ambition and tragic loss.

At turns lyrical, comic, and melancholy, this tale takes inspiration from its title. This Romanian expression with an Alabama twist is symbolic of the strivings of ordinary folks for sustenance, for the realization of their hopes and dreams. Set largely on a few humble blocks yet engaging many parts of the world, this Southern Jewish novel is, ultimately, richly American.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Click the image to find it on Amazon

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons.

Told in Dinah’s voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood-the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers-Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah-the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that are to sustain her through a damaged youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate, immediate connection.

Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of Biblical women’s society.

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