Reading list

Celebrating Jewish Book Week

Jewish Book Week takes place every year in London to celebrate work by Jewish writers from across the globe. Here are some of the highlights from the books and authors featuring in this year’s festivities. 

 

Thank You For Being Late

Thomas L. Friedman

This book was heralded as something completely different for the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The World is Flat. Friedman’s argument is that to understand the world as it is today, you need to grasp three key things: technology, globalisation and climate change. The way these forces interact and are accelerating are at the root of the way the world is changing around us with incredible speed. As well as explaining this, Friedman also offers ways to manage it, both as individuals and as communities. Ambitious and smart, it’s also warm and, ultimately, optimistic.

 

The Return

Hisham Matar

Matar has been shortlisted for an incredible number of awards for this memoir, including the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and the Costa Biography Award. Matar is a Libyan novelist whose father was kidnapped twenty years ago, when Matar was only nineteen. When Gaddafi fell in 2011, Matar was finally able to travel to his homeland in search of the truth about what happened to his father. This book traces that journey, which was both physically and emotionally taxing. His story, told in beautiful, rhythmic language, is as much about love and family as politics and culture. 

 

Here I Am

Jonathan Safran Foer

This is the newest novel from the author of bestselling, much-loved and film-adapted books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Safran Foer’s new family epic follows the Blochs, who seem to be a typical American family. But when everything starts to go wrong, they are forced to confront truths about themselves and what family really means.  With Foer’s customary warmth and wit, the book explores the big questions about who we are, and what it means to be human in today’s world. 

 

Hot Milk

Deborah Levy

Another title that’s picked up a generous collection of award nods; Levy’s most recent novel garnered shortlistings from both the Man Booker and the Goldsmiths Prize last year. Set in a hot, sleepy Spanish village, it’s an almost fable-like exploration of mothers and daughters, identity and female sexuality. Telling the story of Sofia and her invalid mother’s search for a cure, it manages to be brutal, violent and angry, yet also dreamlike, beautiful and contemplative.

 

Inside Vogue

Alexandra Shulman

Is any magazine more iconic than Vogue? Shulman, who has been the longest-serving editor in British Vogue’s history, offers an unprecedented glimpse of life at the magazine’s HQ as it prepares its 100th anniversary edition and explores Shulman’s perspective on the much talked-about BBC documentary, Absolutely Fashion. Amid the celebrity cameos and fashion insights, the book explores some of the more domestic concerns of running such a beloved empire - all from the diary of a woman who quite clearly adores her job. 

 

Spitalfields

Dan Cruickshank

If you’ve ever wished you could understand more of English history without committing to years of reading and research, this is the book for you. Cruickshank chronicles the last two thousand years of the Spitalfields neighbourhood in East London, from its place in the Roman Empire and to its life today. Covering iconic events such as the Great Fire of London alongside the smaller stories of immigrants, courts and workers that lived there and made it what it is today, this history is both detailed and digestible. 

 

Estuary

Rachel Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein’s book traces the social and environmental history of the Thames Estuary, a gateway to London for thousands of years. She has gathered past and present voices of those who have lived and worked in the area, including mudlarkers, radio pirates and fishermen, bringing the area to life in a vivid and immersive way that makes for a relevant and readable history of this wild and ancient place. 

 

Three Daughters of Eve

Elif Shafak

The newest novel from Turkish author and academic Shafak is the story of Peri, a rich middle-aged Turkish housewife whose life is interrupted when a beggar attacks her. When an old photograph emerges in the tussle, Peri is forced to deal with suppressed memories from her days at Oxford University where she met her two best friends. Ranging across big ideas of religion, romance and politics, the book is suffused with touches of magical realism.

 

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