Sunday, May 17, 2009

Books Abound

Reading has been part of my life since I was a little child- unfortunately, that often means that I get sidetracked from basically everything when a good book is in my hands. The most often complaint I heard during childhood was asking me to pick up the books lying in various stages of pages around the house.

Here in Israel, I don't have access to public libraries- so I've started a new book regimen- the Jewish books out there. Now, before you start bashing them, stating how there are no good Jewish books out there these days, I will state that is exactly what I said at first. But, having no other alternative, and reading is as necessary to me as breathing, I started to take the plunge.

Truthfully, the Jewish book market is different than it once was. There are talented authors out there, new and interesting material (that doesn't constantly contain one of the three themes: marriage, kiruv, or children.), and there are more and more popping up each day. I've actually found some worthwhile reading, along with some lemons, but I would find that reading secular books as well.

Unfortunately, there are those lemons. And some of them, as Mr. NMF said recently, are just secular (and trashy) novels with Jewish names stuck in. I don't mind reading a good book, but if it is just badly written, a poor plot, and a trashy idea, then I'm not interested. And, there are those books out there. Yet, they are classified as 'Jewish' reading material.

That's sad. If the names were not Jewish ones, the book itself would probably not be read by religious Jews. Now, just because they added in a Jewishly themed plot and some Yankels and Goldas, the book is okay. Frankly, I'd rather read a good old classic novel, like Jane Austen or Alexandre Dumas over some of these so called Jewish books.

At least, with the secular books out there, I knew what I was reading- I knew which ones to pick, which ones to stay clear of, and which I would find the most interesting. Here, I'm a bit lost- because they are all categorized as 'Jewish' and therefore 'appropriate'- when in reality, there is no such correlation.

So, from now on, just as I choose which secular books to read, and which ones to avoid, I also have to do the same with the 'Jewish' books out there. And frankly, I'm saddened I have to do that.


harry-er than them all said...

if you live in yerushalayim, check out sefer ve'sefel. its tucked in an alley near king george. its a used book store which you can buy and sell back for credit. and mostly only NJ books.
unless of course you don't want to be seen in that part of town

Something Different said...

I agree with you a million percent. I sometimes get angry at myself when I finish one of those books, because I realize what I've wastes my time on... In my opinion, a book can be good without involving the CIA, the FBI, the Mossad, Interpol and who knows what else all in the first chapter.

nmf #7 said...

Harry-er- I have no compunction about people 'seeing me'- I just am trying to explore the Jewish market for now. It's hard work. Although, I have found some excellent autors.

SD- No kidding. You know- there is an author out there who's first book was excellent, because he took a storyline that was new and original, and wrote it well. Then the next one involved the world leaders. Ok, not so bad. Then the third was a CIA/Interpol/Mossad flick. Too bad.

Something Different said...

NMF- I don't wanna point fingers at anyone, but the Jewish book that sickened me the most was the one which detailed a conspiracy which involved all of the wold leaders being secret missionaries. The same book had the world's top rock star also being one of the world's most notorious criminals. Naturally, this would make a great humor book, but as a supposedly serious word: ugh.

nmf #7 said...

SD- That is too funny. That was the author I was describing in the comment above. His first was excellent though.

Something Different said...

LOL that's funny. The first one was bout a boat or something?

nmf #7 said...

SD- About a guy who loved boating who discovered Judaism- but in an interesting way.

corner point said...

Nmf, can you give us a list of good book that you liked? I'm getting desperate...

nmf #7 said...

CP- Jewish or secular?
Recently, on my Jewish reading list has been:

1. Hide and Seek:Jewish Women and Hair Covering= Excellent read

2.Escape from Mumbai= Also excellent read

3.The Baal Teshuva Survival Guide- Good, in an informative type of way

4.All for the Boss- I could reread it over and over, sorry :)

5.Ruthie Pearlman's old series- Working It Out, Getting It Right, Making It Last- I lived these books when I was younger, so I tracked them down again to reread.

6.The Pomegranate Pendant- Good read, with excellent historical fiction details

7.For more informative- I like R' Matisyahu Solomon's books- With Hearts Full of Faith and With Hearts Full of Love. The first book- the chapter on women in the workplace- sums it all up nicely.

That's my recent reading list of good books. I also went through about 4 lemons. Ugh.

nmf #7 said...

CP- Also, by recent, I mean in the last week. I'll have more good ones next week, probably, and I've had good ones in the past.

Rereading Hanoch Teller is a start, although I can get bored with the long trailing stories sometimes.
R' Dovid Goldwasser has good books, if you've read those. For novels- I have to get back to you.
I like Nachman Seltzer's The Edge- that's a decently good one to reread.

nmf #7 said...

OOH- Almost forgot.
Rebbitzen Jungreis's books- especially Life is a Test- EXCELLENT.

rickismom said...

I have to agree...
And I even like some of the ones on Parenting, etc. (I thuoght Between the Thorns was Good.)
Unfortunately, the authors are being PRESSURED by the publishers to write thrillers.
I agree that Escape from Mumbai was good.
I also like RACHEL Pomerantz's books (although her latest was weaker....). Although they are on family, etc., her characters are very well done, and the books are quite believable.

corner point said...

Thanks for that list :-) What about secular?

nmf #7 said...

CP- Well that would be a very long list. I couldn't even list them all- check my profile.

Suffice it to say that I'm a fantasy addict, so here's my list of top fantasy authors:

Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, George R.R. Millen, Sherwood Smith, Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Justine Larbalestier, Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley...
I think that's enough to start out a fantasy reader.

Of Jane Austen- who I mentioned in the post- I love Sense and Sensibility. Of Alexandre Dumas- The Count of Monte Cristo, along with the Three Musketeers are old favorites of mine. I'll curl up with them anyday.

Try reading the classics again- those are excellent reads that can always use a second try.

itsagift said...

Heeey - what about Miracle Ride? That doesn't get onto this list?? LOL...

harry-er than them all said...

for a well-written, original, jewish novel, i highly recommend to anyone
'with all my heart, with all my soul' by the author who goes by the pen-name of B D Da'ehu.
It is hard to find, but worth it. Its about a yeshiva guy who goes to college and his life there (including falling for a NJ).

I enjoyed it because i like philosophical novels (like the fountainhead, or sophie's world), as it frequently goes into those discussions.

I actually know who the author is, and he said its meant to give a picture of what yeshiva life is about to the uninformed (which it does well). The author is actually a community leader in a major jewish city, as well a professor of English Lit. (so he knows how to write.

sorry about the long post

nmf #7 said...

Itsagift- Miracle Ride was a good read- but it's stuck in boxes back in my hometown. This was my reading list for the past week. Sorry!

Harry-er- thanks, I'll have to check it out!