Books On My Reading List This Week – April 26, 2022

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I hope everyone is recovering from their post-Passover carb-coma! Personally, I celebrated with a takeout order of pasta, breaded Mahi, and tiramisu. Oh, and barada with still warm bread for an appetizer. It was amazing!

But enough about carb-comas and all that, let’s get to the books. This week, I’m looking forward to continuing my reading of Chaya Rochel Zimmerman, with her book The Next Pair of Shoes. Zimmerman’s novels explore mental health care in the Orthodox community. Also on my list this week is Jewish Noir II by Kenneth Wishnia. This collection of of writings explores a number of important topics in modern Judaism such as anti-Semetism, Jewish stereotypes, views on Israel, and more. I am very pleased to have an advanced copy of this book, scheduled for release in July.

I’m also looking forward to resuming my schedule of audiobooks. I’m continuing my progress through the Bridgerton series. I’ll be enjoying books five and six this week. And finally, my article last week featuring Jewish voices on autism brought Shtum by Jem Lester onto my reading list. This book sounds really interesting to me.

Join the conversation! Tell me what you’re reading this week in the comments.


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Books This Week

The Next Pair of Shoes by Chaya Rochel Zimmerman
Click the image to find it on Menucha Publishing

Froyim handed Fraidel Leah a package. “I don’t want my son to go barefoot in the streets as the other children do. I hope I’ll see you again before he needs his next pair of shoes.”

He planted a kiss on his son’s forehead, then climbed up onto the wagon.

Ruthless pogroms and unbearable poverty force idealistic shoemaker Froyim Grinburg to leave his wife, Fraidel Leah, and their infant son to establish a more promising life abroad. But constant setbacks — tragedy, theft, and the unavoidable Great War — delay their reunion. With emunah and determination, the young couple makes one difficult decision after another, forging on despite their pain.

In this heartwarming historical novel, based on a true story, talented author Chaya Rochel Zimmerman takes readers on a compelling journey through the early 1900s — from a close-knit Polish shtetl to the lush, grassy farmland of Argentina; from the crowded tenements of downtown Chicago to the hustle and bustle of New York’s Lower East Side. Step into Froyim and Fraidel Leah’s shoes as they struggle to build a brighter future, one footstep at a time.

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Jewish Noir II: Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds by Kenneth Wishnia

Jewish Noir II is unique collection of twenty-three all-new stories (and one reprint) by Jewish and non-Jewish literary and genre writers, including numerous award-winning authors such as Gabriela Alemán, Doug Allyn, Rita Lakin, Rabbi Ilene Schneider, E.J. Wagner, and Kenneth Wishnia, with a foreword by MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block. The stories explore such issues as the perpetual challenge of confronting resurgent anti-Semitism in the US, the enduring legacy of regional warfare in the land of Israel since biblical times, how the “entitled” behavior of certain ultra-Orthodox communities can fuel anti-Semitic attitudes, Jewish support of the civil rights movement, greedy Jewish businessmen who reinforce negative ethnic stereotypes, the excesses of “golden ghetto” American Jews, the appeal of “tough” Israeli-Jewish soldiers and mercenaries, how real estate fortunes are made, and the consequences of political corruption that feed into an exploitive system, how obsession can lead “good” people to do “bad” things. The stories in this collection include many “teachable moments” about the history of prejudice, and the contradictions of ethnic identity and assimilation into American society.

Click the image to find it on Amazon

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To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn

Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her . . . and more.

Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking . . . and wondering . . . and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except . . . he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled . . . and when he kissed her . . . the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn’t help but wonder . . . could this imperfect man be perfect for her?

Click the image to find it on Amazon
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When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
Click the image to find it on Amazon

In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London’s most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca’s surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer—the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

But that was then . . . Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love . . . until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets . . .

Shtum by Jem Lester

The international literary triumph with rights sold in seven countries, Shtum is a powerhouse debut that untangles the complicated strands of personal identity, family history, and lapsed communication. Drawn from Jem Lester’s experience of raising an autistic child, Shtum is “a darker, sadder version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but just as moving” (Observer).

In this darkly funny and emotive novel, Ben Jewell has hit a breaking point. His profoundly autistic ten-year-old son, Jonah, has never spoken, and the family is struggling to cope. So when Ben and Jonah are forced to move in with Georg, Ben’s aging and cantankerous father, three generations of men―one who can’t talk, two who won’t―are thrown together. As Ben confronts single fatherhood, he must learn some harsh lessons about accountability, all before the arrival of a tribunal that will determine the future of Jonah’s education.

Click the image to find it on Amazon

Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, Lester’s debut is a powerful and unapologetic story of love, sacrifice, and determination that examines the vagaries of human emotion and provokes discussion about an often misunderstood disorder. With streaks of brilliant humor and levity, Shtum is ultimately uplifting and compulsively readable, easy to recommend, and memorable long after the final pages.

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