It is Hanukkah time again, which means that everyone is struggling to find the best gifts possible for those special people. While it is easy to fall back on the ever famous classics like socks and gift cards, why not spend this year’s celebration giving out hours of entertainment at a low, low cost. No doubt everyone reading this article loves to read, so here is a list of eight books by eight of the best Jewish writers to celebrate the holiday.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
A classic staple of children’s literature, this book won the 1964 Caldecott award for distinguished picture book. The story revolves around a young boy named Max. One night Max is transported via the power of his mind to a land where vicious beasts roam. During his time in this fantastical land, Max becomes King of The Wild Things. Eventually, he gives up his game and returns himself back to reality and his home where he finds dinner waiting for him.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavaleir and Clay by Michael Chabon
Taking place over the backdrop of World War II, this novel tells the tale of cousins Kavaleir and Clay as they work their way up in the comic book industry to become two of the most influential creators of all time. This Pulitzer Prize winning novel pulls heavily from the real life tales of comic book creators like Stan Lee, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Schuster and Jerry Segal. This is one of the best stories ever of redemption, forgiveness family and comics.
I Robot by Issac Asimov
Asimov is known for being one of the most influential science fiction writers to date. I Robot is a collection of nine of his most popular shorts most which appeared in magazines before becoming part of this collection. In the short story Runaround, Asimov introduces The Three Laws of Robotics which have become an integral part of almost all sci-fi revolving around robots. Somewhat like the Aristotelian Unities, Asimov’s rules are now being broken for the advancement of story-telling.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This is a perfect example of Neil Gaiman’s writing. The story of former inmate Shadow and his descent into a dark world of gods and monsters pushes the boundaries between fantasy and horror. Like many of Gaiman’s works, American Gods has often been discussed for film or television adaptation. Rich enough to be a larger series, Gaiman has kept the American Gods universe fairly compact with only a couple of short stories and a spin off novel in Anansi Boys.
Steps Under Water by Alicia Kozameh
This stirring novel recounts the three years Alicia Kozameh spent imprisoned in her native Argentina. Arrested by the Argentinian government for political reasons, Kozameh was forced to do a variety of daring maneuvers to survive simple day to day life in a dank prison cell. Since her release, Kozameh has left Argentina and found a new life in California. Any reader who loves harrowing tales of survival will devour Steps Under Water.
The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
What happened to all of those Nazi’s who weren’t captured or killed after World War II? That is the question that Ira Levin attempts to answer in his novel. After Nazi hunter Yakov Liebermann gets an anonymous phone call, he flies to Brazil to see if he can get his hands on some of the higher end war criminals. Unfortunately for Liebermann, there is more going on in Brazil than the aiding and abetting of Nazis. There are some weird experiments going on in South America that may lead to a meteoric resurgence of the Third Reich.
Goldfish by Brian Michael Bendis
Some of the greatest Jewish authors in the world are comic book writers. Brian Michael Bendis has become the central figure in the Marvel Comics writing room in the last few years, but before that, he was cranking out arguably some of his best work ever at Image comics. Goldfish is a black and white comic which tells the tale of a grifter as he attempts to gain custody of his son. For the really observant, Bendis even used himself as the model for one of the second tier characters.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
No matter how much a child loves his or her brothers or sisters, there is always an underlying thread of sibling rivalry. In her novel Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume explores the trials of life with a sibling. Nine year old Peter Hatcher has become tired with the shenanigans of his two year old brother Farley “Fudge” Hatcher. It seems that Fudge can get away with anything, including swallowing Peter’s pet goldfish. This children’s novel perfectly illustrates the difficulties and advantages of having a brother or sister.