When the days grow short, the weather cold, and the pull of a comfortable chair next to a warm fire almost irresistible, we imagine we will weather our way through various and sundry winter storms while sipping hot chocolate or tea (or a fine Islay whisky!), cuddling up, and reading. Here are some books that are on my winter reading list.
First up, I am almost finished with Ta Nehasi Coates’ slim memoire/social justice essay/letter to his son called Between the World and Me. This 150 page volume should be required reading for anyone who is concerned about the roiling racial tension in our society today. With stark courage and unflinching honesty Coates describes the life shaping experience of growing up as a black man in white America.
Secondly, there are books a rabbi wants to read, and books a rabbi has to read. Michael Oren’s Ally falls into the latter category. It will be the topic of the Sisterhood book review on January 20, and also the topic of my talk during our annual ‘Snowbird’ program in Florida. Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the US from 2009-2013, has written a book that traces the Israeli-American relationship during his tenure. His premise: although the bonds between the two countries may stretch and strain at times, they are ultimately unbreakable because of shared values and goals.
Last (but not least), the English historian Mary Beard has written a new, comprehensive (but short!) history of the Roman Empire called SPQR – A History of Ancient Rome. The civilization, thought, and values that were at the heart of Rome’s rise are still at work in our culture today, two thousand years later. Understanding where we’ve come from better positions us to move forward into the future with eyes wide open.
Enjoy the books!