This month’s roundup of Jewish Bookshelf of the Month features a diverse range of Jewish authors and their books. ChiTribe has created this monthly roundup for you to find your next read inspired by Amanda Spivack and Lilli Leight the creators of a Jewish Book Club, @matzahbooksoup! With a diverse range of genres, there is something for everyone on the bookshelf. From psychological fiction novels like “The Woman Beyond the Sea” by Sarit Yishai-Levi to fantasy fiction novels like “Thistlefoot” by GennaRose Nethercott, readers can discover new titles and explore different aspects of Jewish culture and history.
Book Recs in this post:
- The Woman Beyond the Sea by Sarit Yishai-Levi – Psychological Fiction
- My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin – Coming-of-Age Story
- Planning Perfect by Haley Neil – Young Adult Fiction
- Teacher of the Year by M.A. Wardell – Gay Romance
- The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman – Historical Fiction, Jewish Fiction
- The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum – Mystery, Crime Fiction
- One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank – Biography
- The Last Words We Said by Leah Scheier – Young Adult Fiction, Mystery
- Once More With Chutzpah by Haley Neil – Young Adult Fiction
- Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott – Fantasy Fiction
The Woman Beyond the Sea by Sarit Yishai-Levi
Genre: Psychological Fiction
“The Woman Beyond the Sea” by Sarit Yishai-Levi is a novel that tells the story of a woman named Luna who is a survivor of the Holocaust. Luna lives a secluded life on a remote island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she has developed a reputation as a healer with mysterious powers. When a young journalist named Uri becomes intrigued by Luna’s story, he sets out on a journey to learn more about her past and unravel the secrets of her mystical abilities. Along the way, Uri discovers a heartbreaking love story that spans several generations and sheds light on the true nature of Luna’s powers.
My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin
Genre: Coming-of-Age Story
“My Last Innocent Year” is a memoir written by Daisy Alpert Florin about her teenage years in the 1970s. The book takes the reader on a journey through Daisy’s formative years, as she navigates the challenges of adolescence, from crushes to family struggles. Through her vivid descriptions and insightful reflections, the author captures the essence of what it means to come of age in a tumultuous time. “My Last Innocent Year” is a touching and relatable account of one woman’s journey towards adulthood.
Planning Perfect by Haley Neil
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
“Planning Perfect” is a comprehensive guide to event planning written by Haley Neil. The book provides practical advice on how to plan, organize, and execute a successful event, from weddings to corporate events. The author draws from her experience as a professional event planner to offer tips and tricks for everything from budgeting to vendor selection. With its step-by-step approach and attention to detail, “Planning Perfect” is an essential resource for anyone looking to create a memorable and successful event.
Teacher of the Year by M.A. Wardell
Genre: Gay Romance
“Teacher of the Year” is a novel by M.A. Wardell that explores the complexities of the education system in America. The book follows high school teacher Jack Sheffield, who is nominated for Teacher of the Year, as he navigates the challenges of teaching in a difficult and often unrewarding environment. The story explores the relationship between teachers and students, as well as the challenges faced by educators, including bureaucracy, funding cuts, and social issues. With its realistic portrayal of the education system and engaging storyline, “Teacher of the Year” is a thought-provoking and inspiring read for anyone interested in education and the impact of teachers on society.
The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Genre: Historical Fiction, Jewish Fiction
“The Matchmaker’s Gift” is a heartwarming novel by Lynda Cohen Loigman that explores the importance of family, love, and community. The story follows two sisters, Rebecca and Flora, who are estranged after a family tragedy. When their aunt brings them together for a family event, they discover a shared passion for helping others find love. The sisters begin a matchmaking business, using their unique skills to bring happiness to others while also healing their own wounds. With its relatable characters and uplifting message, “The Matchmaker’s Gift” is a touching reminder of the power of love and the importance of forgiveness.
The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction
“The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen” is a compelling novel by Isaac Blum that explores the life of Hoodie Rosen, a notorious criminal in the 1980s. The book takes readers on a journey through the rise and fall of Hoodie’s criminal empire, from his early days as a small-time thief to his eventual downfall. The story also delves into Hoodie’s personal life, including his complicated relationship with his family and his love for a woman named Margo. Through vivid descriptions and engaging storytelling, “The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen” is a gripping and thought-provoking tale of a life of crime and its consequences.
One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank
“One Hundred Saturdays” by Michael Frank is a poignant memoir that chronicles the author’s journey to reconcile with his father’s death. The book is a reflection on the 100 Saturdays Michael spent with his father during his childhood, and how those Saturdays shaped his understanding of family, love, and loss. Through vivid and evocative prose, Frank delves into his complex relationship with his father, a charismatic but distant figure, as he grapples with grief, memories, and the passage of time. As he navigates the challenges of adulthood, Michael comes to terms with his father’s absence and ultimately finds solace in the enduring impact of their Saturdays together.
The Last Words We Said by Leah Scheier
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery
“The Last Words We Said” by Leah Scheier is a heartrending novel that explores the intricacies of family, secrets, and forgiveness. The story follows Clara, who returns to her childhood home after her estranged mother’s death, only to uncover a series of devastating revelations that challenge everything she thought she knew about her family. As Clara grapples with the aftermath of her mother’s passing, she must confront buried emotions and confront the ghosts of the past. Through poignant prose and richly drawn characters, Scheier crafts a compelling tale of love, loss, and the power of healing, as Clara navigates the complexities of familial bonds and learns to find peace in the last words she never got to say.
Once More With Chutzpah by Haley Neil
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
“Once More With Chutzpah” by Haley Neil is a heartwarming and humorous novel that follows the journey of Rachel, a young woman who embarks on a quest to rediscover herself after a series of setbacks. Rachel, a self-proclaimed queen of mishaps, finds herself at a crossroads in life as she grapples with career challenges, relationship woes, and a general sense of ennui. Determined to regain her zest for life, Rachel sets off on a solo adventure to Israel, where she navigates cultural differences, embarks on new experiences, and learns to embrace her own chutzpah, a Yiddish term for boldness and audacity. Along the way, Rachel encounters a colorful cast of characters and discovers that sometimes, the best way to find oneself is to venture beyond the familiar and embrace the unexpected with a healthy dose of chutzpah.
Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
“Thistlefoot” by GennaRose Nethercott is a lyrical and captivating poetry collection that weaves together themes of nature, mythology, and humanity. The book takes readers on a journey through a dreamscape of enchanted forests, ancient legends, and mystical creatures. Nethercott’s evocative language and vivid imagery create a rich tapestry of poems that explore the beauty and fragility of the natural world, while delving into the depths of the human experience. Through her masterful storytelling and poetic prowess, Nethercott invites readers to embark on a meditative and transformative exploration of the human soul, and to reflect on our place in the interconnected web of existence, as seen through the lens of the enchanted world of “Thistlefoot.”
This month’s Jewish Bookshelf of the Month offers a rich selection of books from various genres, showcasing the diversity and talent of Jewish authors. Inspired by @matzahbooksoup, get reading to enrich your understanding of Jewish culture and history while enjoying captivating stories.
Meet the Bookworms Behind ‘Matzah Book Soup’: Amanda Spivack and Lilli Leight!
Matzah Book Soup was created by two individuals passionate about Jewish literature and culture. The co-founders, Amanda Spivack and Lilli Leight, aimed to establish a virtual community that celebrates Jewish literary works through engaging discussions and events. Their book club focuses on highlighting diverse Jewish perspectives and stories, providing a platform for meaningful conversations and connections among members.
Who are you and what is Matzah Book Soup?
Amanda and Lilli are two Jewish avid readers who love sharing their love of books with the world. Matzah Book Soup is a Jewish Own Voices book club, which means we read books by Jewish authors with Jewish characters. Our club is open to all and celebrates Jewish joy!
When and why did you start Matzah Book Soup?
We launched Matzah Book Soup in March 2021. As two Jewish women with bookstagram accounts (@its.amandas.bookshelf and @litbylilli), we struggled to find books that featured Jewish characters and Jewish stories that highlighted Jewish joy. So many of the books we were sent by publishers and saw advertised were about the Holocaust, and we were tired, especially with antisemitism on the rise. We decided to do something about it, and Matzah Book Soup was born.
How do you find new Jewish authors?
We are constantly checking Kirkus, publishers websites, Goodreads, and more to see what books with Jewish representation are coming out. We are also very lucky to be a part of a strong Jewish group of bookstagrammers that consistently share books with Jewish representation. Sites like Hey Alma and Jewish Book Council are always putting out updated Jewish book rec lists as well.
What does being Jewish mean to you?
Amanda: For me, being Jewish is about being deeply connected to a beautiful community. I am a mostly secular Jew, but I derive so much joy from connecting with other Jewish people and sharing our traditions. I feel most connected to my faith when I’m participating in cultural and holiday traditions, which always makes me so proud to be Jewish!
Lilli: Judaism for me is all about family, community, tradition, and joy! Some of my most formative and important life moments and friendships are the result of navigating Jewish spaces. I love all the Jewish holidays and how they bring us together with friends and family. Celebrating holidays and Jewish joy just makes me feel so fortunate to be Jewish.
What are your goals for Matzah Book Soup?
We are hoping to expand Matzah Book Soup! We have a wonderful online community and we want it to keep growing. We would also love to add an in-person component eventually and maybe even add extra monthly meetings and/or author appearances and Q&As. We have a lot of ideas and we’re excited to see where they take us!