Originally posted on Leah’s Books.
Top Ten Tuesday used to be a weekly post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. “It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.” This is definitely something I can understand and want to participate in.
The original prompt for this week is … books I hope Santa brings this year. However, this is a bit of a conundrum for me. First of all, I’m Jewish, so I don’t make lists for Santa. I just pass along my wishes to my family. Second of all, I had my family Chanukah party over the weekend, and already received my presents. While I didn’t get any books, I did get some really awesome gifts that I loved a lot and were super thoughtful. I like it better that way, since my family doesn’t necessarily know my reading tastes anyway.
Instead, I figured I’d take this prompt in a completely different direction. I’m going to highlight my top ten Jewish-themed books that I read this year, including books written by Jewish authors, featuring Jewish characters, and incorporating Jewish stories. Here they are in the order that I read them in 2022:
- The Pomegranate by S.J. Schwaidelson — this historical fiction follows the incredible journey of a young Jewish woman from Spain who is kidnapped on her journey to be wed, and she winds up traveling further than she ever expected, and having adventures she never dreamed of. The story itself was absolutely engrossing and I couldn’t put it down.
- Once More with Chutzpah by Haley Neil — a story of self-discovery while on a synagogue exchange trip to Israel, this book was absolutely wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
- This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke — I’m a sucker for a good historical fantasy, and this was one of the best ones I’ve ever read, focusing on a young Holocaust survivor trying to pick up the pieces in communist Hungary.
- Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon — Jewish characters, a female MC with depression, a fat male LI, and parent-trap-like scheming all adds up to a story that is impossible not to love, especially with Solomon’s incredible writing.
- Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott — this has been the hot book of 2022, and I can see why. It’s a combination of Jewish history, folklore, and family drama, and how history affects future generations, combined with a bit of queer romance, making this book absolutely irresistible.
- The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman — this wonderful story of a matchmaker and the legacy that she left behind, and how her gift connects her to her granddaughter was absolutely beautiful and so richly Jewish that I couldn’t help but love it.
- The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum — I loved this story so much, especially how funny it was, but also how it discussed a situation that reflects real-life occurrences with sensitivity.
- Ten Years Gone by Jonathan Dunsky — this historical mystery series is based around a Holocaust survivor who left Europe for Israel, where he builds a new life as a private investigator, solving crimes that the police can’t, using skills from his former career as a detective. It’s absolutely engrossing.
- From Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos — this is a gorgeous Jewish fantasy series that weaves together Jewish folklore and history with queer characters learning about not only who they are, but their own family roots.
- When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb — I fell in love with this Jewish-themed historical fantasy, involving an angel and a demon teaming up and leaving the shtetl to follow a trail of immigrants to America, getting into plenty of trouble along the way, but there’s so much found family vibes and Jewishness packed into this story.