Don Hosek - Recent reading

I tend to be a voracious reader, and I read widely. This list has its origins in an old signature file which I would update periodically with the current book that I was reading. That gradually transmogrified itself into the current massive archive with brief reviews.

What I've been reading lately
Number of books read and reviewed each year
1995* (28)
1996 (47)
1997 (74)
1998 (61)
1999 (62)
2000 (27)
2001 (51)
2002 (60)
2003 (37)
2004 (36)
2005 (32)
2006 (46)
2007 (109)
2008 (78)
2009 (65)
2010 (68)
2011 (98)
2012 (129)
2013 (114)
2014 (101)
2015 (88)
2016 (82)
2017 (76)
2018 (67)
2019 (95)
2020 (90)
2021 (85)
2022 (40)
* Partial year
Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust by Hédi Fried
[Finished 6 August 2022] I was a little skeptical about whether this book would be helpful, but 30 books or 31, what’s the difference. Fortunately, it turned out that Fried’s book was helpful in that it was based on the questions that she was asked by schoolchildren and children being children ask about things that adults are too polite or shy to ask.

From the Jewish Provinces: Selected Stories by Fradl Shtok
[Finished 4 August 2022] So much of the canon of Yiddish literature is written by men and excludes female perspectives. Shtok tends to write about men as well, but also concerns herself with women’s lives and this selection of her fiction was a nice introduction to Jewish women’s lives in pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe.

The Art of History: Unlocking the Past in Fiction and Nonfiction by Christopher Bram
[Finished 30 July 2022] A delightful little book in the Art of… series from Graywolf. This one leans a lot towards the practical and gives useful guidance in writing historical narratives along with an extraordinarily intriguing reading list. One of my favorites from that series.

Rutka's Notebook: A Voice from the Holocaust by Rutka Laskier
[Finished 30 July 2022] Part of my current research binge as a I prep for draft three of the novel. Rutka Laskier was murdered in Auschwitz and her diary preserved by a gentile friend and gives a good view into the concerns of a teenager living through the constriction of Jewish life in the 1930s and 40s.

The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick
[Finished 29 July 2022] A slender book with just two linked stories, “The Shawl” and “Rosa.” The first takes place in a concentration camp where Rosa attempts to save her daughter against all odds but ultimately fails, the second, longer story, a novella really, is a sequel set in 1970s Florida where Rosa struggles to live with her memories of her daughter’s death. The first story, I think, is overweighed by its language and this casts a shadow over the second story which is a more straightforward narrative although living in Rosa’s trauma is its own challenge to the reader.

Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation by Ayelet Fishbach
[Finished 24 July 2022] I heard Fishbach interviewed on a podcast and found what she had to say intriguing so I decided to check out her book. Not a whole lot of new information here, but it was nice to see a lot of the scientific research laid out in this fashion. There could have been a bit more done in connecting the dots between the research and the practical applications thereof, but I suspect that this didn’t happen at least in part because Fishbach, as a responsible scientist, is unwilling to make connections she can’t fully support through research,

Eye of Water by Amber Flora Thomas
[Finished 15 July 2022] There were a few moments of language here that caught at me, but for the most part, I felt like I wasn’t the right reader for these poems.

Survivors: Children's Lives After the Holocaust by Rebecca Clifford
[Finished 12 July 2022] A bit more research reading for the novel in progress. It gave me some good insights into one of the secondary characters in the novel which have already impacted the code.

La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende
[Finished 7 July 2022] Me gusta mucho los libros de Isabel Allende. La escritura es perfecta. Tengo que leer más Allende.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
[Finished 6 July 2022] The characterization of the girls in this novel felt absolutely perfect. I had some glimpses into the lives of teenage girls during my brief career as a high school teacher (reading confiscated passed notes, which in retrospect, was a serious dick move and if I could go back in time, I would have either ignored the notes or kept them unread until the end of class and returned them, but anyway), and this felt absolutely true and I had to wonder how much of this was autobiography. The final long chapter kind of lost the momentum of the earlier chapters though and the big crisis that concluded the final chapter felt contrived, but overall, I’m happy to have spent time reading this book.