Category Archives: Book Club

Book Club: Cameron Wright’s “The Rent Collector” Wed., Jul. 19th at 7:45 P.M.

Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the ill-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money–a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one womans journey to save her son and another womans chance at redemption. It demonstrates that even in a dump in Cambodia–perhaps especially in a dump in Cambodia–everyone deserves a second chance.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Rent-Collector-Camron-Wright-ebook/dp/B0091X6T4I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499649083&sr=8-1&keywords=cameron+wright+the+rent+collector

 

Book Club: Ronald H. Balson’s “Karolina’s Twins”, Wed., Dec. 7th After Evening Minyan

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28220963-karolina-s-twins

From the author of Once We Were Brothers comes a saga inspired by true events of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to fulfill a promise, return to Poland and find two sisters lost during World War II.

Lena Woodward, an elderly woman, enlists the help of both lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart to appraise the story of her harrowing past in Nazi occupied Poland. At the same time, Lena’s son Arthur presents her with a hefty lawsuit under the pretense of garnering her estate—and independence—for his own purposes. Where these stories intersect is through Lena’s dubious account of her life in war-torn Poland, and her sisterhood with a childhood friend named Karolina. Lena and Karolina struggled to live through the atrocity of the Holocaust, and at the same time harbored a courageous, yet mysterious secret of maternity that has troubled Lena throughout her adult life. In telling her story to Catherine and Liam, Lena not only exposes the realities of overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, she also comes to terms with her own connection to her dark past.

Karolina’s Twins is a tale of survival, love, and resilience in more ways than one. As Lena recounts her story, Catherine herself also recognizes the unwavering importance of family as she prepares herself for the arrival of her unborn child. Through this association and many more, both Lena and Catherine begin to cherish the dogged ties that bind not only families and children, but the entirety of mankind.

Book Club: Philip Roth’s “Indignation” (2008) Tue., Sep. 27th After Minyan at 7:30 P.M.

Set in America in 1951, the second year of the Korean War, Indignation is narrated by Marcus Messner, a Jewish college student from Newark, New Jersey, who describes his sophomore year at Winesburg College in Ohio. Marcus transfers to Winesburg from Robert Treat College in Newark to escape his father, a kosher butcher, who appears to have become consumed with fear about the dangers of adult life, the world, and the uncertainty that awaits his son.

At Winesburg College, Marcus becomes infatuated with a fellow student, Olivia Hutton, a survivor of a suicide attempt. The sexually inexperienced Marcus is bewildered when Olivia performs fellatio on him during their one and only date. Marcus’ mother objects to his dating someone who attempted suicide and makes him vow to end their relationship.

Marcus has an adversarial relationship with the dean of men, Hawes Caudwell. In a meeting in Dean Caudwell’s office, Marcus objects to the chapel attendance requirement on the grounds that he is an atheist. In this meeting, he quotes extensively from Bertrand Russell‘s essay “Why I Am Not a Christian“. Later, the dean finds Marcus guilty of hiring another student to attend chapel in his place; when Marcus refuses to attend double the number of chapel services as punishment, the dean expels him. His expulsion allows the U.S. Army to draft him and send him to fight in Korea where he is killed in combat. Early in the novel, Marcus explains that he is dead and telling his story from the afterlife; later it is revealed that he is unconscious from his combat wounds and the morphine that has been administered.

The Winesburg setting is an homage to Sherwood Anderson‘s book Winesburg, Ohio.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indignation_(novel)

 

 

Jewish Millenials Happy Hour, Wed., Oct. 14th, 6 P.M. – ??? at The Headless Horseman in NYC. RSVP to office@cbisp.org

Jewish Millenials Happy Hour, Wed., Oct. 14th, 6 P.M. – ??? at The Headless Horseman, 119 East 15th Street, NYC

RSVP to office@cbisp.org by 10/12 for discounted drinks. 🙂

This event is sponsored by Congregation Beth Israel, Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah, Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim, Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ, The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, the JCC of Central NJ and 30 generous individual donors.

Book Club: Charles Balfoure’s “The Paris Architect” Tue., Jul. 14th at 8 P.M.

In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he’s clever enough, he’ll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can’t resist.

But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what’s at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we’ll go to make things right.

Written by an architect whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every soul hidden and every life saved.

Book Club: Christina Baker Kline’s “Orphan Train” Wed., Jun. 24th at 8 P.M.

The #1 New York Times Bestseller

Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past—and it includes a special PS section for book clubs featuring insights, interviews, and more.

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Book Club: Helene Wecker’s “The Golem and the Jinni”, Tue., May 12th at 8 P.M.

An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899. One is a golem, created out of clay to be her master’s wife—but he dies at sea, leaving her disoriented and overwhelmed as their ship arrives in New York Harbor. The other is a jinni, a being of fire, trapped for a thousand years in a copper flask before a tinsmith in Manhattan’s Little Syria releases him.

Each unknown to the other, the Golem and the Jinni explore the strange and altogether human city. Chava, as a kind old rabbi names her, is beset by the desires and wishes of others, which she can feel tugging at her. Ahmad, christened by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, is aggravated by human dullness. Both must work to create places for themselves in this new world, and develop tentative relationships with the people who surround them.

And then, one cold and windy night, their paths happen to meet.

http://www.helenewecker.com/the-golem-and-the-jinni-by-helene-wecker/synopsis-of-the-novel-the-golem-and-the-jinni/

About the author:
Helene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, a small town north of Chicago, and received her Bachelor’s in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After graduating, she worked a number of marketing and communications jobs in Minneapolis and Seattle before deciding she wanted to write something longer than a press release. Accordingly, she moved to New York to pursue a Master’s in fiction writing at Columbia University. She now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6466778.Helene_Wecker

Book Club: Colm Toibin’s “Nora Webster” Thu., Mar. 12th at 8 P.M.

From one of contemporary literature’s bestselling, critically acclaimed and beloved authors, the magnificent, instant New York Times bestselling novel set in Ireland, about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four, navigating grief and fear, struggling for hope.

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven—herself.

Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, “beautiful and daring” (The New York Times Book Review) and able to “sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations” (USA TODAY). In Nora Webster, Tóibín has created a character as iconic, engaging and memorable as Madame Bovary or Hedda Gabler.

http://www.amazon.com/Nora-Webster-Novel-Colm-Toibin/dp/1439138338

Read the New York Times review.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/books/nora-webster-by-colm-toibin.html?_r=0

 

Book Club: Hesh Kestin’s “The Lie” Thurs., Jan. 22nd at 8 P.M.

The Lie is a gripping, morally complex thriller about a woman torn between idealism and maternal devotion in present-day Israel.  Dahlia Barr, an attorney infamous for defending accused Palestinians in Israeli court, is jolted when her son Ari is kidnapped by Hezbollah, and she must decide whether to alter her principles in order to save her son.

Stephen King says The Lie is “a page-turner that will engage your mind and emotions in a way few novels do. The narrative is headlong, the issues have never been more current, and the characters come alive from the page.  The Lie is what great fiction is all about.”