Summer Reading List 2020

IMG_1454Until the End of Time by Brian Greene – (Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Ever Evolving Universe.  Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University.  In his newest book he brings the knowledge gleaned from his own disciplines as well as philosophy and literature to bear on fundamental questions that have preoccupied the human mind for eons:  What is our purpose?  Where have we come from?  Where are we going?  What does it mean to live a human life, and why does it matter? 428 pp

The Lost Art of Scripture by Karen Armstrong – (Rescuing the Sacred Texts).  The newest book by Armstrong, a prolific writer on religion, religious thinking, and the challenge of living a religious life in contemporary times.  The subtitle of the book captures its essence.  Armstrong argues that the scriptures were never meant to be read literally, and if we can understand how the ancients read their sacred texts, it will enable us to come to our scriptures as modern people with a deeper sense of reverence, appreciation, and meaning. 500 pp

Europe Against the Jews, 1880 – 1945 by Gotz Aly.  The author, a German historian and journalist who specializes in Holocaust studies, argues that a full understanding of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust can only come about through understanding what was happening throughout Europe in the years leading up to the Second World War. 370 pp

The Year 1000 – When Explorers Connected the World and Globalization Began, by Valerie Hansen.  We think of globalization as a modern phenomenon, but Hansen agues in this eminently readable book that the true beginning of the interconnected world we live in today can be traced back to the year 1000 CE.  Filled with fascinating facts and written in a lively prose, the author argues that the impulse to travel to new lands and to interact with new people is innately human. 240 pp (without the notes!)

The End of October by Lawrence Wright.  If you aren’t tired of pandemic news you may be interested in this novel.  Published last month, it tells the story of a global pandemic and the catastrophic consequences for humanity that follow.  As they say, timing is everything, and Wright is prescient in his description of events that he was writing about a few years ago but that we are living through today.  What sets this novel apart is the meticulous research the author conducted that he uses as a foundation for his fictional account. 370 pp

There you have it – my summer reading list for 2020.  It comes to just about 1800 pages all told, and that cannot be a mere coincidence.  I’ll also read a Shakespeare play, as I do every summer.  This year, with a presidential election on the horizon, I am thinking Richard III with its theme of how corruptive political power can be.

Enjoy the reading!!

Author: Steve Schwartz

Husband, father of three, Deadhead, and rabbi. I am now in my 22nd year of serving a large congregation in the Baltimore area.

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