Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015


Today, let's welcome  Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin from The Book of Life Podcast and Past President of the Association of Jewish Libraries. She is here to tell us about some the #Readukkah Challenge

The Association of Jewish Libraries kicks off its first Jewish Reading Challenge with #Readukkah during Hanukkah, December 6-14, 2015.
It's easy! Anyone can participate, including kids. All you have to do is:
  • Read one Jewish book
  • Review it online (include hashtag #Readukkah)
  • During Hanukkah, December 6-14, 2015
You pick the book - any reading level, fiction or nonfiction, Jewish in any way you choose to define it. 

Review your book anywhere online: on a blog, GoodReads, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or even YouTube. Kids who need a place to publish a review can send it (with parents’ permission) to be posted on The Book of Life Podcast;

Use the hashtag #Readukkah somewhere in your review to help readers find you! You can also share the URL of your review on AJL’s virtual corkboard at Be sure to Google “#Readukkah” to find reviews others have written, too!

By sharing your #Readukkah reviews of Jewish books, you will help spread the word about worthwhile titles, bringing them to the attention of more readers, increasing the market and supporting the publishing of more Jewish books!
About the Association of Jewish Libraries: Established in 1966, AJL is a professional organization for librarians who work with Judaic collections in synagogues, schools, community centers, museums, archives, universities, and more. Other members are writers, publishers, booksellers, historians, and anyone with an interest in Jews and books. AJL is an affiliate of the American Library Association and the American Theological Library Association, and welcomes affiliations from other organizations with common interests. Learn more at
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About The Book of Life Podcast: Since 2005, The Book of Life has presented monthly interviews on Jewish books, music, film and web for adults and children. Host Heidi Estrin is a synagogue librarian, and her interviews reveal the backstory on treasures that could be found in a Jewish library like the one where she works at Congregation B’nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida. Learn more at

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

HOLIDAYS IN BOOKS: A Very Stars Hollow Christmas

Today, let's welcome Bear Allen from Black, White & Read Books  She is here to tell us about some Holidays, Books and Gilmore Girls

As we all await more news on the potential upcoming revival of Gilmore girls, why don’t you join me at Luke’s for a Santa burger as I make my holiday shopping list!
Each resident of Stars Hollow reminds us of a friend or family member.  Their quirks, their eccentricities… their ability to hold 425 jobs in the span of seven years.  So this holiday, as you’re deciding what Santa will be leaving under the tree/Hanukkah bush for your loved ones, consider some of these books I would recommend for the Lorelai & Co in your life.  I have given a fiction and non-fiction option for each character and all books were published in 2015 (so it’s a little less likely that the Rory in your life has already purchased it).  
That person who has an US Weekly subscription and is still working through her mommy issues in therapy
Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini    
Filled with sensationalism, gossip and crazy cult antics, Lorelai #2 wouldn’t be able to put this book down.  And learning about the Tom Cruise craziness would give her something to annoy Luke with (as I’m currently annoying my own husband with my constant talk about Scientology).
              The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
Lorelai Gilmore/Rory Gilmore/Lorelai Rory Gilmore/Lorelai V. Gilmore/Lorelai Victoria Gilmore/Lorelai Gilmo/Lorelai Gi/Squeegy Beckinheim/Tookie Clothespin spends her life requiring (and not getting) therapy about the damage being a member of the Gilmore clan has done to her over the years.  The Art of Crash Landing discusses the difficulty inherent, the secrets created and kept by families and how members are undone by their birth right.  And in this story, the main character narrates her own tale with a sassiness and snarkiness that Lorelai could appreciate.

That person who would happily give her boyfriend Kafka for Christmas and not realize it was a “Czechoslovakian football”.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Our little classics devourer, Rory would be unable to resist picking up this first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird.  As a writer herself, I think she’d enjoy the insight into what can happen when the magic of editing is applied to an author’s work.  And she’s a soft touch…. she’d hope that her dollars went to help pay for Nelle’s nursing home.
               Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
Written by someone who spent 30 years in The New Yorker’s copy department, Lorelai Leigh Gilmore would be sure to enjoy this book about grammar and how we’ve mutilated it over the years.  The ex-editor of The Yale Daily News probably shares many experiences with Mary Norris when it comes to people’s complete inability to use the semicolon correctly (can you tell this is a personal pet peeve of mine?).
That person who regularly recommends the use of your bootstraps… and who owns lots of flannel.
Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman
From the bestselling author of Paddle Your Own Canoe (another book I would be sure to purchase him), Gumption would absolutely be on my shopping list for one Butch Danes.   Luke Danes kind of reads as a proto-Ron Swanson (with notably fewer obsessions with cured meats).  And Nick Offerman, the man who gave heart to his Parks and Recreation character, has a similar every-man quality that I believe would speak to Luke.  
               Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Raised by a father who was subsequently buried with his American Revolutionary War reenactment musket, I feel that a story of a man trying to distance himself from his family’s criminal past would be right in his wheelhouse.  As a man who holds in high esteem both honor and family, the story of Clayton Burroughs is one I would feel confident he would enjoy.  Even if it wasn’t written by “Dick something.  Something Dick.”
That person who, while seeming prim and proper, revels in drama (whether it be her own or other’s)
    The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro
Aside from her involvement with the Daughters of the American Revolution, we’re not told all that much about Kelly Bishop’s character on Gilmore girls.  However, I always get the feeling that she appreciates fine art.  The Muralist, a story about the disappearance of a young American painter sparking the discovery of hidden artwork seems to me to be something that Emily Gilmore would devour in between her meetings with the DAR, high tea with Mrs. Van Uppity (“Hortence Van Uppity. Tight bun. Lace collar. Tiny poodle. Fictional friend”) and her work with countless committees and charities.
               Tricky Twenty-Two: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich
Call me crazy, but I can absolutely see Emily devouring each book about the hijinks of an inept bounty hunter, her mess of a love life and her crazy and loveable grandmother.  I always feel that there must be so much pressure on someone like Emily.  Janet Evanovich’s series would serve as a much-needed escape for her.
That person who would read all six volumes of The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire… for fun.
              Muse by Jonathan Galassi
Although this was a rare DNF for me, I can see Richard Gilmore being into this slim book about the publishing world.  Two rival publishing houses fight over talent while a particular poet has them both obsessed and competitive.  The inside look into the publishing world and the appreciation for the history of the written world clear in Galassi’s writing is something I can see him picking up between rounds of golf at the club.
               Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
A historical buff, Richard would thoroughly enjoy Larson’s non-fiction tale of the sinking of the Lusitania.  But unlike most non-fiction, the word-lover in Grandpa Gilmore would be absorbed by Larson’s incredible ability to turn accurate history into a truly compelling novel.
That person who rocks out and dreams big, even if her circumstances don’t encourage it.
               Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon
Nothing could be more appropriate for the drummer of Hep Alien than the memoir of the founding member of Sonic Youth.  In addition to being a role model for a generation of women, the fact that she was able to maintain her rocker chick status while also being a wife and mother is something that I think Lane Kim really needs to hear.
               Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
As the music industry is overpopulated by powerful men, a collection of short stories of intrepid and sometimes forgotten women in history is a perfect gift for the Lane in your life.  Megan Mayhew Bergman’s beautiful, almost lyrical writing is something that would most certainly be appreciated by any musician.
That person who is lovable, klutzy and loyal… and likes to cook
               Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
This story of a girl raised to love the art of food and become a successful chef in her own right is one that seems to be made for Sookie St. James.  And the recipes that accompany the story of Eva Thorvald’s childhood and rise to fame would be perfect for when your chef friend is in a cooking slump and almost makes Valentine’s Day burritos.
               Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck (cookbook)
As an antidote to pretentious cookbooks that award the chef that uses the most organic, locally-grown kale, Thug Kitchen is a fun alternative.  While Sookie doesn’t strike me as someone who drops the f-bomb on the regular, her sense of humor and ability to laugh at herself makes me think this would be a great gift.  Let’s be honest, any decent chef in your life is probably in possession of at least four copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  So give Julia Child a rest and be ready to laugh/blush/gasp.  And cook.
That person who is (a little too) confident but is also a ride-or-die friend
    Purity by Jonathan Franzen
Given the mythology of Jonathan Franzen’s persona, this would totally be a hate-read for Paris. And she’d love every second of it.  Add in a dash of political activism, some ill-concealed sexism and Franzen’s usual self-admiration, and Paris Geller would be happily eye-rolling her way through this book.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
As someone who spent all of college trying to decide between a law degree and a medical degree, Missoula is the center of the Paris Geller reading Venn diagram.  Krakauer’s powerful and honest work is something I can see inspiring Paris to go on to get a doctorate in sexual abuse law… using her knowledge of both the legal and medical fields to put as many rapists behind bars.  Paris might be difficult to get to know, but she is fierce and always ready to fight for what is right.

So now that your holiday shopping is done, grab a cup of peppermint coffee from Weston’s Bakery and people-watch in the gazebo, smug in the fact that the rest of us suckers have yet to even start!