When I was in second grade my mother told me to read upside down. “You’re reading too fast,” she said, “it’s upsetting the teacher.” She had been instructed to do this as a child, and it was only natural for her to pass this wisdom on to me. Even now, I occasionally flip the book over in order to savor the story.
Children in general are less particular than adults, and as a child I devoured books indiscriminately. We went to the library every Friday after school, and I was allowed to check out ten books. Five could be what my mother called “junk”—meaning Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. The others were more substantial ones recommended by the librarian. Sweet Valley Twins (or High), The Chronicles of Narnia and The Giver were my stalwart companions on long, lazy Saturday afternoons. “I am so glad you came today, Sarah,” Mrs. Shankman, the librarian, would say every week, as if surprised to see me. “I have two new books that I really need your help with. Read them over and let me know where you think the library should put them.”
These days, I am lucky if I get through a full chapter on Saturday afternoon before I fall asleep on the couch. As with so many people, life pulls me in all directions and I have far less time to read than I used to; my nightstand is crowded with books I promised myself I would read, my coffee table littered with books I promised others I would read and my bookshelves full of books I know in my heart I will never read. Not to mention the dozens of books that cross my desk every week at Moment by up-and-coming novelists, veteran journalists or self-published memoirists.
The sheer number of options can be paralyzing. In Moment’s summer books issue, we try to provide some rough guidelines to help make your next trip to the library, bookstore or Amazon easier. Our staff asked experts and aficionados to recommend their top five books on timely and intriguing subjects. Want to understand trends in American Judaism or find the best Jewish romance? We give you five curated options to choose from. Of course, we expect some disagreements and welcome your comments, quibbles and recommendations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are incredibly excited to present an original work of fiction by Etgar Keret. One of my favorite Israeli authors, his short stories—brief, magical and absurd—should be read many times over. This issue also features an electric conversation between writers Dani Shapiro and Tova Mirvis on memoir and fiction—and why fiction is actually the more truthful of the two. Journalist Yossi Klein Halevi discusses the responses from Jews and Muslims to his new book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, and we feature a trifecta of blockbuster book reviews by authors Dara Horn, Alicia Ostriker and Daniel Gordis.
Award-winning journalist Dan Raviv writes a gripping behind-the-scenes account of the creation of Israel’s groundbreaking missile defense system, Iron Dome. The story includes never-before-revealed details of the high-tech shield’s origins and a look at the role it plays today.
Summer has not meant a stop in news, and in response to the alarming situation on America’s southwestern border, our opinion debate section focuses on immigration with Joel B. Pollak of Breitbart News and U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) facing off. In “Anti-Semitism Watch,” Ira N. Forman notes the increase in anti-Semitic dog-whistles in Hungary after recent elections, and Nathan Guttman looks at the changes in the Republican Jewish Coalition since President Donald Trump’s election. The prolific Martha Nussbaum explains why philosophy matters more than ever in our current political climate. Letty Cottin Pogrebin takes a strong stand on Jewish tribalism, and our “Ask the Rabbis” section addresses the question of Jewish belonging with a uniquely 21st-century question: Can robots be Jewish? Make sure you take a look—the answers are pretty wild.
Wishing our readers a wonderful summer—and happy reading!