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The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Summer Reading


During the summer months many people find some extra time to catch up on their reading. By reading, I mean books with paper, ink, covers and turning pages. I don’t mean on a backlit display plugged into an electrical outlet.

This summer, I have been too busy to do any real substantive offline reading. I have done a lot of online reading, but my book reading has fallen behind.

One exception has been DovBear on the Parsha, and you can read my review here.

Part of the reason for this is that in my “spare time” I usually end up reading up on Law School materials. I actually enjoy reading cases and Law Review articles, so my reading of other stuff has fallen a bit behind.

There is plenty of summer left and I thought it would be nice to provide some of my all time favorite reads and a quick note about why I like each book.

Click the title of the book to purchase on Amazon.

Please feel free to add your favorites, especially if you see my faves and think I would like your suggestions.

Jewish Books

The Committed Life by Esther Jungreis

Written for Observant Jews and anyone else, the quintessential Rebbetzin Jungreis weaves together stories of commitment and dedication to life, love and spirituality. I confess to crying throughout the book and if you have an emotional side, this book will speak to you.

Letters to a Buddhist Jew by Akiva Tatz

A series of letters between an expert in Jewish philosiphy and conservative Jew practicing Buddhism. The book compares and contrasts many of the overlapping features of both cultures shedding new light on both traditions.

What the Angel Taught You by Rabbi Noach Weinberg and Yaakov Salomon

A book of Reb Noach Weinberg’s wisdom on life, happiness and achieving one’s goals. The book is humorous, thoughtful and practical.

Frameworks by Rabbi Matis Weinberg

Rabbi Matis Weinberg’s series on Torah is simply incredible. Full lenght essays on important topics highlighted by side notes citing sources from Shakespeare to “The Zen Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Each essay provides new deep ideas and is worth the effort needed to really understand the point. All volumes are superb, I have linked my favorite, Exodus.
Non-Fiction Books

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Really all of Gladwell’s books are superb. Blink is my favorite because it applies to all of us. We are all experts in something and understanding how we can analyze things quickly and effectively gives us confidence in our decisions. Buy this book!

The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman

A (slowly becoming outdated, but continually being updated) analysis of the rise of the information age. From the first personal computers to blogging, the book puts all the advances of the last two decades into a neat package. I found the book to be very important to understanding our era as a participant and as a parent!

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

I love sports and I love business. This book melds the two and shows how statistics can mean more or less than they appear to mean. Also, it helps the average sports fan understand a lot of the behind the scenes of baseball.
Semi-Non-Fiction

Busting Vegas by Ben Mezrich

The compelling story of a Jewish MIT grad who took Vegas for millions of dollars in a few short years playing blackjack. A rare insight into genius minds, the greed of Vegas and the fine line between cheating and “gaining a competitive edge”. I am no gambler, but then again after you read this book you will see that these guys were not gambling either. They knew they were going to win. WARNING: Adults only. Some material is not appropriate.
Fiction

A charming book that makes us think about the small things in life. Moving and inspirational, this book is a super read.
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
My favorite book. This book is a parable about the male teenage years. Various events and reactions in the book give rise to situations we all can relate to our own lives. With piercingly sharp quotes and messages this book is timeless.
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A book about the “future” where thoughts are managed and controlled by a government opposed to reading. Some of the awful predictions in the book have come true. If you haven’t read this book, it is about time you did.
The most popular book of Lawyers and Law Students everywhere. The story of discrimination, a good lawyer’s fight against a corrupt society and the innocence of children.
The Partner by John Grisham
I am not a huge Grisham fan but of his books that I have read this book is the one that I liked best. I won’t spoil it by telling you why I loved it, but after you read it send me an email and we can talk about it!
If you have read any of these or any more recommendations – leave a comment!
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10 Responses

  1. Summer reading is a must for students of all ages. Books provide a much needed escape quality for many,sheer entertainment for others. For all those who say ” I will just wait till the movie comes out”, they don’t know what they are missing!
    Keep reading everyone!

  2. Frayda says:

    Love Farenheit 451 and 1984

  3. ilanadavita says:

    Some links, at least 2, seem to be broken.

  4. hadassahsabo says:

    to kill a mockingbird is my all time favourite book. we had to study it in high school and I fell in love with it. it’s moral is still relevant. i also wanted so badly to be Scout!!

  5. YH says:

    Not a fan of Jungreis…heard her live and wasn’t impressed.

    Love Malcolm Gladwell.

    A Separate Peace and To Kill a Mockingbird? Those were awesome when I was in 6th grade šŸ˜‰

    • rabbifink says:

      Jungreis live is not the same as her book.

      We read A Separate Peace in 10th grade in the same school.

      To Kill A Mockingbird is a better book for adults than for kids.

      Sometimes we read books “too early”.

  6. rabbifink says:

    All links working now.

    Sorry…

  7. Rabbi Messing says:

    12 years of reading later and A Separate Peace [sorry, I can’t get the italics or the underining to work!] is still your favorite! What about that book you insisted I read, I am the Cheese (or something like that)?

    BTW, if you want an exercise in getting your Jewish soul sensitized to feel for other’s losses, I highly recommend Princes Among Men published by Feldheim regarding the 8 kedoshim from the Mercaz HaRav terrorist attack. Warning: don’t read on Shabbos – it’s inappropriate to cry then!

    • rabbifink says:

      I should have given kudos to you for A Separate Peace!

      I am the Cheese is great but no classic… In fact all of Robert Cormier’s books are great teenage boy books.

      Thanks for the recommendation as well.

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