Thursday, August 28, 2014

10 Books

List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way and tag 10 people to do the same. Don't over think it. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just books that have impacted you in some way. Then tag 10 friends plus me so I can see your list.

As you might imagine (English Major, Rabbi) I love reading and I love books. I love poetry and storytelling. I love thoughtful books and I love stuff that's just fun. 

I don't usually go for these kinds of memes, but I figured 'what the heck'. 

1. And To Think That It Happened On Mulberry St. by Dr. Seuss. When I was a little child this book fascinated me. The whole idea of storytelling, that telling the story made something real. Can't say I have a good grip on reality as a result, but...

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. yep, all of 'em. Even the last couple that are out of chronological order (and I will continue to read out of chronological order rather than renumber them like some kind of savage). Fantasy with a message. The idea that our actions and choices matter. That all creation means something. Powerful ideas in the mind of a 5th grader. 

3. The Tanakh JPS: Read this from cover to cover in 6th grade (well, I skipped a bunch of Leviticus, but the joke was on me, as my bar mitzvah portion was Lev. 6). I was living in Israel and wanted to understand the land better. Combined, it had a deep influence on my sense of what it means to be Jewish. 

4. Iron Man Vol. 1 Annual #9: My first comic book that I bought with my own money, at Thayer Pharmacy. Here's a smart guy who uses his smarts to help people, has had trouble in  his life, but he's neither brooding nor angsty, but having fun with life. It, along with Iron Man: Crash (the first Graphic Novel done with computer generated art) started me on a lifelong love affair with Comic-style storytelling

5&6. I and Thou and Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber and

6&7. God In Search of Man and The Sabbath By Abraham Joshua Heschel and

8. Sages and Dreamers By Elie Weisel

These three authors probably did more to formulate my theology and my Jewish identity than any other, except maybe Bialik and Ravnitsky's Book of Legends

9. On The Road Jack Kerouac: That sense of adventure for a teenager has now morphed into that sense of living life to the fullest and seeking inspiriation for the adult. 

10.  Collected Poems by W. B. Yeats: Still the most influential poet in my orbit. More than Amichai, or Donne, or Whitman. 

What are your 10 books? 


  1. this would take a little thought. 7 Habits and In Search of Excellence would be on the list. I'm a sucker for cynicism so Kohelet. Of the Pirke Avot commentaries, I think Irving Bunim's Ethics from Sinai is the best but I like Beryl Wein's as well. Agree wit Tales of the Hasidim. There is are outstanding Artscroll biographies of Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky who was moving into my native Monsey as I was moving out, and Reb Schraga Feivel who established the day school system in the United States. Ari Goldman's In Search for God at Harvard influenced how I think of religion. None of my science or medical texts make the list. for literature: Elmer Gantry brings out the laytzanos in my kishkes and Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray does the same. And maybe All Quiet on the Western Front and Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and EB White's The Sword and the Stone. Hard to get a unifying theme and not all of these were really pursued voluntarily.

  2. Oh man, Dorian Grey and Twain and Bunim. Those are awesome choices. This is exactly why I feel bad for Rock Music critics who try to come up with top 100 lists--someone is always going to come up with 'but what about...?' and the forgotten song (or text, or what have you) is always going to be an awesome choice and you're going to go, 'yeah, what about ...?'