Books On My Reading List This Week – December 21, 2021

Read Along with Me

My first exposure to audiobooks came from my grandmother (of blessed memory). She was an avid reader but lost her sight to macular degeneration and started receiving Talking Books from an organization that provided devices and audiobooks by mail. They arrived in green plastic cases and consisted of mutli-sided cassette tapes. Some of you may have to google what a cassette tape is. But Talking Books allowed my grandmother, and others like her, to continue to enjoy literature.

I find audiobooks to be both a way to enjoy literature when other methods of reading are impractical and good company in the on-going isolation of the pandemic. They’re great for during my 9-to-5 work day, long car rides. I even have a few in my library to help me sleep.

As it is a short work week, this week, I only have two audiobooks on my reading list. The first is Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor. I really enjoyed the film when it came out in 2015 and am sure I will enjoy the added detail that comes from the book. The second title I’ll be listening to is Every Last Secret by A. R. Torre, a story of jealousy between neighbors in an idealistic neighborhood.

I also have two “regular” books on my list this week. The first is How the Other Half Lives by Jacob A. Riis. Riis did a study of how the most impoverished of New York were coping in the tenements in the late 19th century. This book was a topic of discussion in my AP US History class in high school and I’m just finally getting around to it. Better late than never, I guess. And finally, I’m reading #ShalomBayis by Penina Shtauber. This short story collection is the follow up to her #ShidduchCrisis, a collection of short stories about the experience of the Orthodox Jewish tradition of dating through a matchmaker with the intent to marry. In her follow up collection, Shtauber explores establishing a peaceful (shalom) Jewish home (bayis) in the early years of marriage.

What’s on your reading list this week?

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Books This Week

How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York by Jacob A. Riis
Click the image to find it on Amazon

2015 Reprint of 1957 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Originally published in 1890, this is the classic indictment of slum life, written by one of the most famous reformers of the nineteenth century. “How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York” explained not only the living conditions in New York slums, but also in the sweatshops in some tenements which paid workers only a few cents a day. The book explains the plight of working children; they would work in factories and at other jobs. Some children became garment workers and newsies (newsboys). The effect was the tearing down of New York’s worst tenements, sweatshops, and the reform of the city’s schools. The book led to a decade of improvements in Lower East Side conditions, with sewers, garbage collection, and indoor plumbing all following soon after, thanks to public reaction. Our edition reprints the 1957 edition, without the photo illustrations done mostly by Riis himself.

#ShalomBayis: Short Stories by Penina Shtauber

Marriage is fun. Marriage is exciting, and romantic, and magical. And it’s also… not.

It’s the exhaustion of waking up at 4 a.m. for your newborn baby. It’s the stress of bills, the pang of jealously, the mesh of personalities that don’t always mesh.

It’s finding out that the guy you dated is different than the one you live with. That the woman you married isn’t what she seemed.

Welcome to shalom bayis.

Shalom Bayis: The Jewish religious concept of domestic harmony and good relations (or shalom) between husband and wife. These short stories highlight some tried and tested methods of attaining Shalom Bayis. Not all of them work… some even fail terribly. A humorous, uncensored, thought-provoking perspective.

Click the image to find it on Amazon

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Every Last Secret by A. R. Torre
Click the image to find it on Amazon

Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous.

The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Anne-Marie O’Connor
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The true story that inspired the movie Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.
Contributor to the Washington Post Anne-Marie O’Connor brilliantly regales us with the galvanizing story of Gustav Klimt’s 1907 masterpiece—the breathtaking portrait of a Viennese Jewish socialite, Adele Bloch-Bauer. The celebrated painting, stolen by Nazis during World War II, subsequently became the subject of a decade-long dispute between her heirs and the Austrian government.

When the U.S. Supreme Court became involved in the case, its decision had profound ramifications in the art world. Expertly researched, masterfully told, The Lady in Gold is at once a stunning depiction of fin-de siècle Vienna, a riveting tale of Nazi war crimes, and a fascinating glimpse into the high-stakes workings of the contemporary art world.

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