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Posted in: Arts, Film & Culture

Published on Jun 11, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

A Seriously Summer Reading List


The days whizz by as one grows older. Once, or so it now seems, each season took its own sweet time but summer in particular really came to stay. There was always time to dream and swim and laze about, and lots of time left over for both light and heavy reading.

But today I am at war, both with the passage of time and with the inevitable crumbling of my own infra-structure–and, of course, with Islamist terrorists who mean to bomb us back into the 7th century.

Some might argue that for such reasons, we should “gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” for this might be the last summer as the West has known summer to be, filled with (somewhat) carefree travel. Others would say that the war has long been upon us and that we must boycott or ration our use of oil, give up our SUVs, carpool, switch to hybrids and electric cars–and do so instantly, not gradually.

Here’s some of what I will be reading and perhaps writing about this summer. Please send me your own favorite choices.

But first, to shock you all: I read Bill Maher’s book and very much liked it. Alright, so it’s really a stand up comedian’s routine presented as a book with illustrations but his points are, as they say, “right on.” Read it. You’ll be surprised. I certainly was. It was reissued in 2007 and is listed below.

Marc Angel, Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality: The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire, Jewish Light Publishing, 2006.

Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Prometheus Books, 2008.

Cassandra, Escape! From An Arab Marriage, Xlibris Publishing, 2006.

Lee Harris, The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the West, Basic Books, 2007.

Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Perennial Classics, 1951.

Lucette Lagnado, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, Harper Collins, 2007.

Herbert London, America’s Secular Challenge: The Rise of a New National Religion, Brief Encounters, 2008.

Bill Maher, When you ride ALONE you still ride with bin Laden: What the Government SHOULD Be Telling Us to Help Fight the war on Terrorism–and Still Isn’t, Phoenix Books, 2007.

Hilton Obenzinger, American Palestine: Melville, Twain, and the Holy Land Mania, Princeton University Press, 1999.

Nissim Rejwan, The Last Jews in Baghad: Remembering a Lost Homeland, University of Texas Press, 2004.

Haim Zairian, Two Thousand Years of Jewish Life in Morocco, Sephardic House, 2005.


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