A few new books we read about and one new book we sort of read

We found 3 book reviews worth noting for one reason or another in the Times and we actually read quickly through one other new book that we have to return Monday to the otherwise wonderful Teaneck library because another patron has it on hold. And our reading time was minimal today because our home was filled most of the afternoon with at least eight children ages six and under, five who were our grandchildren with whom we'd rather spend time playing than to do anything else in the universe.

In the time left for reading, we selectively pored over Judith Shulevitz', The Sabbath World, and have mixed reactions to it, but mainly because we don't know what to make of what she calls her "spiritual autobiography." This is a work of diligent and extensive research and thinking about so many aspects of the phenomenon we call the Sabbath. And it is also an account of many chunks of the life of the author mixed in with her discussions of the practice and conceptualization of the Sabbath throughout history and across cultures. For us, that whole stratum of the book could have been dispensed with altogether. We aren't that much interested in Shulevitz after what we learned from her slightly banal yet pompous interspersed accounts of selected chapters of her rather offbeat Jewish upbringing, education and life experiences. The book, without that information, would stand quite strong as a rapid overview of the Sabbath idea broadly construed.

Next, 3 items covered in the Sunday Times Book Review, linked below:

Judt's book thankfully does not seem to attack Israel; Miller' book looks promising; Martel's metaphor gets a kinder gentler review here than we have seen elsewhere, where it has been slammed pretty hard.
Tony Judt

‘Ill Fares the Land’ By TONY JUDT. Reviewed by JOSEF JOFF. Tony Judt argues that Britain and America have succumbed to greed and egotism in this passionate book championing European-style social democracy. Excerpt | Profile of Tony Judt

‘Heaven’ By LISA MILLER. Reviewed by MARK OPPENHEIMER. A journalist’s tour of the afterlife, across religions and through the ages.

‘Beatrice and Virgil’ By YANN MARTEL. Reviewed by ROBERT HANKS. The author of “Life of Pi” returns with new animals still laden with metaphor. Excerpt

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