Book Recommendations – Summer 2021

Need a new book? Here is a list of suggestions from all of us at MJA

Abigail Harmon
From Abigail

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I know there has been a lot of controversy around this book, but I thought it gave an interesting perspective on the dangerous journey so many immigrants face. And the people who help them along the way.  

Work Clean: The Life-Changing Power of Mise-En-Place to Organize Your Life, Work and Mind by Dan Charnas

An interesting and well done book to help you focus on organizing your mind and your work. I love that this book has improved the way I look at my desk, my desktop, and the way I cook.  

David A. Mersky image
From David

My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar

This book is a non-fiction story of a family of Kurdish Jews who emigrated to Los Angeles.  The author’s father, an academic, becomes a highly regarded, tenured professor at UCLA dedicated to the study and preservation of his people’s traditions and language, Aramaic, the original lingua franca.

The Cellist by Daniel Silva 

Silva is a masterful storyteller and has created the 21st century’s most enduring character, Gabriel Allon, an Israeli art restorer who takes us back to the renaissance through his work with the great masters and lives very much in the world of modern intrigue as the head of the Office, and thinly veiled approximation of Israel’s Mossad. This is the 21st in the Gabriel Allon series, each one better than the previous one. The ultimate beach read!

Howard Charish
From Howard

Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin (“Winter’s Tale”) 

This novel still haunts me. Luminous writing, complex plot with thriller undercurrents and keen observations on parental duties and loyalty to the past. 

Kerry Olitzky
From Kerry

Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson

Not an easy read but It is perhaps the most important book that I have ever read. She provides a context from a historical perspective of what I lived through as a Jewish kid growing up in the segregated south where I attended a segregated high school whose school song was Dixie and whose school flag was the Confederate flag and whose school team was the Rebels. 

Larry Sternberg
From Larry

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton

This book looks at government attempts at social controls and the sad state of our criminal justice system that currently has roughly 25% of the world’s prisoners with less than 5% of the global population. Nearly 60% of those in prison in the U.S. today are Black or Latino and Hinton notes that the odds are 50-50 that young Black men are in jail or on probation. George Floyd’s fate wasn’t an aberration – only the fate of his murderer was.

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

This book documents how important the federal government is (contra those who believe we need less government) because there are government bureaucrats whose expertise we rely on every day. It was scary to read the book in 2018 when it first came out and that was before the pandemic, which our government, its leaders, and its populace failed to confront, resulting in far too many deaths of many of our most vulnerable citizens.

Lori Fodale
From Lori

The Light of Days by Judy Batalion

The untold story of women resistance fighters in the Nazi ghettos. Non-fiction but reads like a novel. 

Also vote for The Cellist

Michael Jaffe
From Michael

Apeirogon by Colum McCann.

From the National Book Award-winning and bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin comes an epic novel rooted in the real-life friendship between two men united by loss.

The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad by Colin Whitehead

Rachel Glazer
From Rachel G.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

It’s a novel and light summer mystery about a women whose loving husband leaves her suddenly and her determination to figure out why he would do this all while taking care of, and building a relationship with his daughter. 

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

It’s a novel about a middle class mother and her young son in Acapulco who are forced to escape because of the drug cartels.  Although it is a novel, it gives great perspective on life in Mexico and the terrifying flight of immigration into the United States.

Rachel Woda
From Rachel W.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

Her memoir of the summer of 1945 where she and her best friend were the first women in the sales floor of the flagship store in NYC…it was a great summer read!

Rob Hirsch

The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman

While not the newest book out there, as both a historical novel, and an archeological Jewish story, I found it VERY compelling and highly recommend it. I’ve always been very interested in archeology, especially in Israel. There are so many hidden secrets in our history, just waiting to be found, and feel a part of this search through The Aleppo Codex was thrilling.

While Justice Sleeps by Stacy Abrams

Without getting too political, getting to read something by Stacy Abrams is a real treat. It’s not often that you read a book written by someone as known to the public as Stacy Abrams, and who you can say you really support a lot of what she stands for. It makes reading a book like this that much more interesting and enjoyable.