Summer Reading List

By Seth Eisenkramer, Jewish Light Staff

Whether it’s relaxing on the beach or kicking back after a hard day of work, reading provides an escape from the stresses of daily life. With books being turned into movies and real-life events being turned into books, summer reading allows us to place ourselves in a new world.  

The diversity of the members of the St. Louis Jewish community is reflected in their choice of books, whether they be fiction or nonfiction, or about topics ranging from television to sports to historical romance. 

Kyle Grossmann- former secretary and treasurer of BBYO STL and graduate of Marquette High School (2014)

“Currently, I’m reading ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams. I’ve heard great things about the book from people I know, so it really intrigued me.”


The book is adapted from a 1978 radio comedy hosted by Douglas on the British Broadcasting Company, and it has since been adapted into a movie and numerous novels.

“Next on my list is Veronica Roth’s ‘Insurgent,’ which was recently released as a movie and is the next book in the ‘Divergent series’ I’ve been reading.”

Scott Berzon, director of the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival

“(I’m reading) ‘Called Out But Safe’ by Al Clark. For a baseball town like St. Louis, I feel like Clark’s 30 years of (Major League Baseball) experience bring a bunch of stories to the table. Even though he did ump in the (American League), I did have to warn him that there will be plenty of questions about the Cardinals.

“Next up: “SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age.” It’s really a book that will take a lot of people back, whether it’s the kids who grew up on Nickelodeon, or the parents who watched it with them. It seems like a really fun book to read.” (It’s by Mathew Klickstein.)

Brigitte Rosenberg, Senior Rabbi at United Hebrew

“I just finished ‘The Giver,’ by Lois Lowry. We have a rule in our house that you cannot see a movie —if based upon a book— until you have read the book. I will often pick up a book that one of my kids is reading so that I know what it is they are reading, and of course so we can see the movie based on the book. I came upon this book when I saw the trailer during ‘The Fault in our Stars,’ based on book by John Green, which I read earlier this summer.

“I am getting ready to read ‘A Dream of Zion: American Jews Reflect on Why Israel Matters to Them,’ edited by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin. I picked this book to help explore American-Jewish views on Israel. This follows my recently reading ‘Menachem Begin: The Battle For Israel’s Soul,’ by Daniel Gordis.

“I love all sorts of books as I the opportunity to both learn from and escape within a good book.”

Aaron Zuckerman, Parkway North High School graduate (2012) now working in Los Angeles as a musician

“Right now I’m reading a book by Alan Watts called ‘The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.’ It’s really a hippie book, but I find it cool because the entire thing was annotated by my late grandfather.

“Lately I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction. Since I’m in my early 20s and trying to figure out what’s next for me, I’m trying to find great advice or role models in my books from people who have accomplishments or ethics I envy.”

Ellen Futterman, Jewish Light editor

“Typically, I like to read first-time novelists, probably because it gives me hope that someday I might write one myself. But at the start of the summer I asked friends whose reading taste tends to coincide with mine for recommendations. Among the books I liked the best are the hilarious ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette,’ by Maria Semple and ‘The Orphan Train,’ by Christina Baker Kline. The latter is a novel but its premise is based on a real welfare program whereby hundreds of thousands of orphaned and homeless children were transported from the East Coast to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. Orphan trains operated between the mid-1850s and 1929. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down so I tore through it in a week.”

Howard Schwartz, author and professor of English at University of Missouri – St. Louis

“The most recent book I’ve read is a new book of poems by Michael Castro, ‘How Things Stack Up’. It’s his 15th book of poems and, it seems to me, his best. The poems are rich in imagery and momentum, with a wide range of emotions, all tightly edited into a remarkable collection.

“I’m focusing on poetry this summer. The next book on my list is ‘Apples of the Earth,’ by Dina Elenbogen. She’s a young Chicago poet with a deep love for Israel —especially the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai— and the central theme is the difficult decision of where to live–here or there.

“I’m drawn to read books by poets whose poems, once encountered, stick with me. At the top of that list is Yehuda Amichai, who books I plan to reread this summer, as I have for many years.”