Cool reads for the hot summer

Cool reads for the hot summer

By Leanne Ortbals, Jewish Light Intern

Looking for a hot summer read to accompany the sizzling temperatures? Staffers at Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library offer their top Jewish-theme summer reading picks to dive into when St. Louis summer days are too hot to handle.

Library Director Barb Raznick recommends “The Invisible Bridge” (Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95) by first-time author Julie Orringer. “I always find it fascinating how much you can learn from a well-researched novel and this certainly fits that category,” said Raznick. Inspired by the history of Orringer’s grandfather, the book follows Andras Levi through the horrors that came to pass in Hungary during the Holocaust.

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Assistant Librarian Lorraine Landy’s pick also follows a Jew’s journey through the Holocaust. “Amazing Journey: Metamorphosis of a Hidden Child” (CreateSpace, $15 paperback) by St. Louisan Felicia Graber shows the triumphs of escaping the Holocaust in an inspiring read. “I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It is a tale of surviving the Nazi Holocaust as well as a transformational journey of a shy young lady into a confident and successful woman,” said Landy.

Library Assistant Miriam Roth praises one of her own summer reading picks, “The Marriage Artist” (Henry Holt and Company, $26) by Andrew Winer. Roth explains that Winer weaves together two storylines. The first follows Joseph Pick, the son of Catholic converts, who turns from Judaism to escape oppression in 1928 Vienna while the second highlights art critic Daniel Lichtmann in modern times after his wife dies alongside a Native American artist. “The writer takes us many places: to a double suicide (or not) in New York City, to 1928 Vienna, and to the fascinating worlds of artists,” said Roth.

For a more academic read, library assistant Diane Berg recommends “The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious” (Schocken Books, $28.95) by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg.  “Zornberg throws new light onto biblical stories with her wonderful insights and great depth of knowledge. It is truly amazing how she helps open the world of Torah study to new levels,” said Berg.

Another recommendation is “Sarah’s Key” (St. Martin’s Press, Paperback, $13.95) by Tatiana de Rosnay, which has been adapted as a feature film and opened here July 29. This New York Times bestseller is set in 2002 Paris and follows expatriate journalist Julia Jarmond. Writing about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’d’Hiv’ roundup of French Jews in Paris leads Jarmond to uncover the story of 10-year-old Sarah, arrested with her family in 1942. Jarmond finds a connection with Sarah that influences her own choices throughout the novel.

Younger readers may enjoy “I Go to the Ohel” by Levi Hodakov or “Big, Small, or Just One Wall” by Leibel Fajnland. Both published in 2011, these new additions to the Jewish literary world teach children in illustrated, easy-to-understand formats. “I Go to the Ohel” teaches about visiting the Rebbe Ohel and “Big, Small, or Just One Wall” shows kids all the reasons that shul is special.