Or book. Or books. For many years now I have put together a summer reading list that I post for the congregation. Folks seem to enjoy it, and some people even read some of the books on the list. The summer is a natural time for reading. We imagine ourselves enjoying long relaxing days on the beach, alternating naps in the warm sun with sitting in a beach chair, reading a good book, the unceasing waves gently lapping at the shore.
But the winter is also a good reading time. Deep winter especially. With long, dark nights, falling temperatures, the wind whistling outside through leaveless tree branches. Snuggled in a chair under a blanket, perhaps with a dram of whisky by your side. Here are two books I hope to read over the next weeks, as winter comes in.
The first is a classic ‘rabbi’s must read.’ Entitled ‘At Home in Exile,’ this new book by Alan Wolfe (professor of political science at Boston College) is an exploration of the importance of the diaspora Jewish community. The subtitle of the book is Why Diaspora is Good for the Jews, and the author dares to suggest that there are some things important, in fact perhaps even necessary, about diasporic Judaism. After all, in large part Judaism is what it is today because of the experience of living in the Diaspora.
The second book is fiction. Science fiction, in fact, a genre that is rapidly growing in respectability. Michel Faber’s ‘the Book of Strange New Things’ chronicles a young clergyman who is sent to a far away planet to preach and teach faith to the native alien population. How could a rabbi resist that storyline?
So there you have it. Two books I’ll be reading through this winter. I expect another one or two might make the list, but it is getting late, and I have a lot of reading to do.