My Favorite Book Quotes: The Books That Helped Shape Me Through their Words

In my recent reading year, I’ve taken notice of how different the books I reach for now are from just a couple of years ago, and it got me thinking about all those different books I used to pile up on my list of favorites and what I would think of them now if I approached them with fresh eyes, whether I would have the same visceral reaction I had that first time or none at all.

It also made me reflect on why I considered them my favorite books in the first place, was it the story or rather the sense of feeling known and seen on the page that made me cling to the book long after I had closed the last page?

Looking back, I can see a clear pattern forming over time wherein each book that presented itself at a certain time in my life came to explain a piece of me, and it creates this effect where all these favorite books of mine come together to form a bigger picture, which I can look back on to and understand more clearly the role they had in my growth.

And to think that this all came to my understanding simply by scrolling through my list of Goodreads quotes that I had pinned in my profile. Suddenly all these books that have slipped my mind over the months came back to show just how much joy and clarity they brought me. And I have this immense desire to capture this particular emotion through this post because as the years go on, I’ll hopefully have new books to share, so I’d love to revisit the emotions these brought out in me repeatedly.

I seek immense comfort through the written word, so the more accurate term for these would probably be “passages” instead of “quotes” because it’s often the story told through the words that I seek comfort in. This might also influence my decision to often seek out books that are entirely character-driven and grounded in reality; to explain all that I cannot put into concrete words. And it creates this interesting resolution where I know that when I’ll reexperience these emotions (may it be confusion, sadness, intense love) I can seek out their words and take comfort in its simplistic explanation, all whispers of things I’d loved.

“Great books help you understand, and they help you to feel understood.”
John Green

An example of what inspired this whole idea in the first place was rereading The Raven King this past week, which I haven’t done since my first whirlwind read on the day the book came out, and going through the last book in the series reminded me of just how closely I cherished these characters. I saw a piece of me within this group: Ronan has my roots to family, Blue has my all-encompassing relationships, Adam has my perceptive intensity and… All these components that evoked the memory of how good it feels to read a book that gets you, which brought me back to the Goodreads quotes for this series since I can’t commit to rereading the whole series; I just wanted the string of highlights.

And there are so many books that produce a similar effect in my heart, so I had to come up with a concise list to share. And these aren’t necessarily my favorite books to date, but rather it’s their words that made me click and understand a part of myself that I was seeking out at the time of reading and through their given words I felt known and seen by another human (“without the body odor and the eye contact,” sorry, the Cather Avery in me slipped out). So this may not be a list of all-time favorite books, because those constantly change as I grow and evolve, but rather a list of books that helped me come to terms with realizing so much that I needed to know.

These were certainly favorites at the time, and now, looking back they’re favorites for helping me understand that which only in hindsight I can understand I was asking for an answer that unveiled itself through the written word.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by by Leslye Walton

The thing with rereading a book that blew you away the first time, it’s then quite the disappointment when all those scenes that stuck with you from your first read turn out to be not as grand as you remembered. Like a certain character detail that I blew up in my hand turned out to be less than one page in the book, and I was confounded as to how that was possible…

Since this book follows three generations, and when I read it I fell into the world of Emmeline, aka the first generation we go back to, I was aghast to find her discussed less than 100 pages because all the details of her life had stuck with me so closely. It’s been over three years and I still remember details of her marriage, her bakery and her dear friend at the bakery, her eccentric family members and their stories, the stories of the neighborhood. I can recall everything clear as day, maybe even better than my own memories, so it surprised me when I revisited the story to find that they were discussed in such a small amount of pages.

Since Emmeline’s journey encaptured me the most, it’s also her phrase that came to mirror my own thoughts:

She struggled to distinguish between signs she received from the universe and those she conjured up in her head.

This brings me back like nothing else to my confused state at the time of reading this book where I experienced this unmoored reality, teetering the ground between who I was and who I wanted to become so I was almost desperately seeking out all that would help explain it to me. I cherished this book, and the magical realism genre, for a long time following.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater:

Ava Lavender was the perfect build-up for this grandiose series that touches on all things magical from dark creatures to tarot readings to having that something more in your life, which is captured to the point in this passage:

“The predictions that came out of 300 Fox Way were unspecific, but undeniably true. Her mother had dreamt Blue’s broken wrist on the first day of school. Her aunt Jimi predicted Maura’s tax return to within ten dollars. Her older cousin Orla always began to hum her favorite song a few minutes before it came on the radio.”

This still strikes a comforting note within me.

I touched before, at the start of this post, on just how much I relished in the world of this raven group, and I’ll forevermore be grateful for the solace they granted me in feeling so included in their dynamic. And the curious thing is there’s more than one group to seek that something more in, Maura and Calla and Persephone were always something I looked forward to reading about on the page.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:


If you’ve been around for a while on this blog (long enough to read my two reviews for Fangirl, 1&2), you know by now there isn’t one quote that can fully encompass how much this book means to me. I’ve read it countless times since my first time reading it because it’s the only physical book I have that I actually enjoy. I genuinely end up rereading it every Shabbat when the book I took home from the library inevitably disappoints me. I gravitate towards Rainbow Rowel’s Fangirl because it’s a familiar and comforting world to sink into. The characters feel so close to my heart, same for the writing; I can recall the words by heart now, so much so that when I read a certain scene, I’ll start laughing ahead of time because I recall what line awaits. Scenes with Reagan or Levi never disappoint.

The book recently re-released its new paperback edition with a glowing full-color illustration by Mara Miranda-Escota of one of my favorite Cath and Levi scenes (reading on the love seat!), plus it has minty stained edges. Be sure to snatch your copy here:

I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This: A Memoir: Nadja Spiegelman

My love for honest and compelling lifetime works began with uncovering this book: I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This. It opened my eyes not only to the genre of Memoir, which I then solely devoured for the following months but I realized through Nadja Spiegelman chronicles just how fierce and all-encompassing mother-daughter relationships can be.

The things my mother did not see about herself, I did not see, either.

This book holds a lot for itself, but I’ll always hold it dear for holding open that doorway for me to peek in. My subsequent phase of memoirs, where other people come to a concrete understanding through chronicling their lives, I was hoping to catch some of that for my own understanding. It’s very often that we can find our thought mirrored in others. And I found two others which created a similar effect:

Trevor Noah’s account resonated with me on a more deeper level than I was expecting for a comedic memoir, from the way his mind works with language to the fierce nature of his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. I still think about them to this day. Though at the core it holds a troubling tale of coming-of-age during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa, Noah takes the joys and pangs of his life and makes sure to mix in some much-needed humor. This checks it all off:

“Nearly one million people lived in Soweto. Ninety-nine point nine percent of them were black—and then there was me. I was famous in my neighborhood just because of the color of my skin. I was so unique people would give directions using me as a landmark. “The house on Makhalima Street. At the corner you’ll see a light-skinned boy. Take a right there.”

The latter book by Diane Guerrero uncovered a deep, hidden part in me which I had stored away for years, yet through Diane Guerrero’s unflinchingly honest story of recounting her adolescence, it all came flooding back. Like, the memory of betrayal of experiencing her first period but not having the one person who’s supposed to know it all, it’s a story that still sticks with me to this very day. Also, her touching upon the fact that people touching her makes her uncomfortable made me connect with her instantly because I needed to hear that I wasn’t alone, though I was secretly hoping for her to reveal the source of it, though her mother had her inklings.

Basically, reading memoirs feels like coming out of a good therapy session. And funnily enough, there are excellent books by Irvin D. Yalom just on this concept of accompanying through the written word a therapy journey that most likely mirrors your own thoughts and fear: Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy.

The title story of the collection remains a favorite of mine in particular since it touches upon the concept of obsessive love versus healthy love, which, boy, did I need to hear that at the time.

“Perhaps the function of the obsession was simply to provide intimacy: it bonded her to another—but not to a real person, to a fantasy.”

At the time of this revelation, not a lot of memoirs were out in the bookish world so I ventured over into family stories which granted me much of the same, plus delicious drama.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The intricately thought out sequences that move this book still hinder me speechless. At the core of Little Fires Everywhere lies a tale of motherhood and love. I was especially in awe of the way Celeste Ng can characterize such specific components within each figure that we meet; everyone stood out as their own person through this intense character-study. And ever since I read this particular passage below that transcends words; I can never look the same at the subtlety in the growing relationship between a mother and her child without hearing this echoed in my mind.

“It had been a long time since her daughter had let her be so close. Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she’d set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there were something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”

The audience needs more books from the author. Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

I would love to know in the comments below if you have any similar bookish quotes that have helped you in any way that you would like to share.

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My Favorite Films of 2018

I haven’t been an avid movie person in the past, but this recent year, specifically these past two months, I relished in two movies that have quickly risen to the top of my favorites list. And the best part is that they were both a complete and utter surprise to me.

After the disaster movie ending I experienced with Tully, where I was overly immersed in the main character’s life only to receive your typical Hollywood twist that pulled me completely out of the storyline, I became overly cautious when it came to sinking fully into the carefully curated world of films.

But these two were simply too good from start to finish; the kind of films I want to watch again and again, or at the very least, revisit them in my mind over and over.

I like my movies like I like my books: introspective and entirely character-driven. (Check out my My Favorite Books of 2018 for similar book recommendations.)

Stella’s Last Weekend:


Stella’s Last Weekend is the story of two brothers whose relationship is challenged when they find they are in love with the same girl, but it is also about the unshakable bond between them.

I went into Stella’s Last Weekend giving it less than one minute to impress me because I wasn’t up for another movie disappointment, as you can imagine with my previous fails. And I have to give credit where credit is due because this film had me within the opening shot because I’m a sucker for a beautiful beach with a moody boy looking like he’s in an indie music video.

This film is about a family coming together to “celebrate” their dog of 17 years coming to the end of her life, and it’s written by a mother who clearly knows how her boys work best together. Through this family project blossoms a wholesome story that made completely sunk into the film, so much so that I got to let go for all my troubles, which was saying a lot that particular day.

“It’s Ok, Mom. Stella can’t read.”

And then, of course, I was flooded back with a wave of nostalgia when it came to the unbreakable dynamic established between Nat and Alex Wolff, which I haven’t experienced since my days of watching The Naked Brothers Band on Nickelodeon. What with Nat’s songs causing 8-year-old me to stare moodily into the night through my window and Alex being the wild child (he finally got a real tattoo, which he shows off in Stella’s Last Weekend, after many years of drawing them on his young self on the show), it was like going back to 2007. There is literally not even one scene where those two managed to let me down; I felt like I got to join in on a secret type of magical link only a few get to experience in their lifetime. And you can just tell THEY’RE HAVING SO MUCH FUN TOGETHER IN EACH SCENE, and it’s hard to not catch up on their fun.

Alex’s character, Ollie in particular always had me holding out to see what next surprising line he would utter, especially with phrases like “I’m a millennial, Jack, Mom works for me.”

A movie that can make me feel included on all the inside jokes with a simple look that says it all is my kind of movie. Like, the Mom (Polly Draper) interacting with her boys through glances is the perfect way of showing instead of telling. And I can’t get enough of it because this is something rarely established, and we get to experience this effect thanks to these three being so comfortable around each other; this is a whole deeper level of family.

There’s so much I want to say (and that I’ve been bursting to write down ever since I first saw the film) and no way to capsulize it, so I think a bullet-point list will come in handy:

  • This film holds another point for realism in the simplicity of having dialogue that returns back to the point where it last left off. Realistically, if you were abruptly cut off before a major revelation from someone, you would return as soon as possible to that topic of conversation with said person. So little things like this had me star-struck.
  • Said person who holds the major revelation is, of course, the main clashing point for these two brothers: Violet. Though it’s a sign of how comfortable Ollie is around her that he can act exactly the same with his brother when they’re all together, and it took only one scene to showcase this.
  • The main bonding point for these two brothers then surprisingly is Ron aka the father nobody asked for. Nothing was as reassuring for these two as making fun of Ron with the constant reminder that nobody understands his place in their close-knit family.
  • Speaking of, the humor in this is something else I cannot even begin to capture. Which we especially see in scenes with Ron and the three of them with how he does not get their humor in the slightest. It’s the kind of humor that most would call quiet with how it builds up over years of being around each other; the humor sneaks up on you out of nowhere, but the underlining tone for this movie lies in its intimate playfulness. I remember laughing to myself for a solid week after watching the film because certain scenes would replay in my mind at different times of the day. Like, the “your mother” joke, which is arguably the most overdone comedy, was renewed in the scene where their least favorite employee at their favorite claw machine warns Nat’s character, Jack, “I know about you and the claw,” and Alex’s Ollie brings a brilliant comeback: “He doesn’t cheat, Marty. He’s very loyal to your mother.” All it takes is a simple moment for it to register, and I was laughing uncontrollably.
  • Nothing is shown without it having some significance sooner or later, and I appreciate a film dedicated to having a rounded ending.

Stella’s Last Weekend takes on all the tropes associated with the topic of two brothers and one girl and showcases that this really isn’t the case of “Oh, whoever shall I choose?” This is challenged on screen with Jack’s simple “Confused about what? Who’s the right brother? I mean, we’re not the same person.” But I liked that this aspect wasn’t dramatized because it’s simply that Violet met a random dude at a party about a year ago that she really liked, then ended up not calling him because of a misunderstanding and high school drama, and now here she is with this boy named Ollie who turns out to be the brother of… And all this confusion it creates is conveyed so piercingly in the movie when Violet opens up to the mother with a heartbreaking “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

This is the first Hollywood film I’ve seen that actually handles this topic so clearly with a “you can’t get between my two sons,” instead of an “oh, you know, what can you do in the face of Love?” Like, it clearly lays down the situation that we live in a world with so many other people, and you don’t get between two brothers just because your emotions are overbearing at that moment.

Ultimately, this movie succeeds in showcasing the simplest truths about family and the intensity of love and the confusion that accompanies it. And the extra effort put in that differentiates a good movie from a bad one comes to shine in the everyday interactions that replicate real-life moments we don’t even notice until we see them broadcasted on the big screen and receive this peg of recognition, of feeling seen. As you can see I genuinely care for this movie, so if you’re intrigued check out the trailer here:

On the flip side of that, here is another movie that I recently watched that had the same where-has-this-been-all-along effect:

The Boy Downstairs:

A young woman is forced to reflect on her first relationship when she inadvertently moves into her ex-boyfriend’s apartment building.

This, like all the best films, was found through a random scroll on the way to find a genuinely good Rom-Com. After a tiny moment of confusion at the World-War-II sounding title, The Boy Downstairs, but I was touched within the opening scene of this film that raises many questions:the boy downstairs-bookspoils

This is THE movie for someone who, like me, wants a romance film that isn’t about the grand gestures that give me low-key second-hand embarrassment, instead the storyline chronicles the development of a relationship through minimal gestures (insignificant in their small inhabitance but grandiose in their meaning), like simply being on each other’s wavelength and genuinely caring and paying attention and openly liking each other just as much as the other does; none of that will-they-won’t-they. And it was, quite frankly, refreshing.

The love interest in this, Ben, still has me in heart-eyes. Like, anytime I recall his heartfelt “I just want to be with you,” it gets me all over again. Not only that but his initial unsureness around her I found beyond endearing.

Speaking of scenes in The Boy Downstairs, there’s one, in particular, I still haven’t gotten over because it’s expresses such a tender and pure form of love that I’ve yet to see on the big screen where two characters bond not through excessive PDA that I cannot help but skip over, but rather through sharing childhood school traumas and just looking in each other’s eyes and seeing that twinkle slowly appear as the story progresses and your heart opens up.

You can really feel his love for her through the hurt he feels on her behalf even though it happened years and years ago. I mean, his eyes say it all:the boy downstairs-bookspoils This scene was so inviting and open and just so damn raw that I took it as my own. Truly, Ben’s character just sparks one question: Where can I get one? I cherish this sweatered boy so much.

Speaking of their close nature, I cherished how it was expressed through little gesture that I hold so close to heart, like Ben stroking her cheek simply to feel close to her while she’s telling her story, or Diana stroking Ben’s hair while he’s driving, or stealing little forehead kisses… IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT GET ME. the boy downstairs-bookspoils

Another thing: the storytelling used with the constant moving back-and-forth created within the timeline makes for an interesting effect similar to how memories resurface upon seeing a person again. So that Diana would go back to their best moments when they’re not on the best of terms in the present day. And it’s brilliant because after such an intimate scene where she shares so much of herself and he accepts her so openly, then seeing him in this completely unfamiliar terrain in the present day recreates the same betrayal she must feel. Like, we had this heartfelt moment and now you’re somewhere that we have no clue how you even got there.

That’s where the underlying dry-humor comes in to lighten up the mood, and just like the aforementioned film on this list, it’s ground-breaking in how it sneaks up on you. It’s the simplicity of Ben getting her humor that creates this easygoing nature with them, especially when it’s shown throughout the film just how few people get Sophie’s joking. (That restaurant scene with the “I wanted to ask if he had lemons,” still makes me crack up.)

Then on the flip side of that, in the present day, the unbearing nature of living close to someone you’re not with anymore, which can quickly create this dangerous slope where you’re walking home every day with him on your mind, wondering if you’ll see him, just to be prepared ahead of time. And, in this case, there’s no way to avoid it because Ben’s window is right there, and Diana‘s seemingly innocent “I’ll just check if he’s near his window not because I care, obviously, just out of habit” says it all. And then when he’s not around anymore like he used to, it creates this heartfelt moment of loss when she can’t seek out that piece of comfort in her day. “How’s Ben?” “I don’t know. He doesn’t live here anymore.” (I can literally recite lines from this film even though it’s been weeks and weeks since I first watched it; that’s how good the script is.)

I’ll be on the look-out for any following works by the writer and director of this film, Sophie Brooks. This movie was a work of art.

Check out the trailer here:

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55Make your film purchases through my Amazon Affiliate. I’ll make a small commission!

If you’re interested in similar ramblings, I have a full page dedicated to all my TV & Movie-spoils which you can check out here. For similar book recommendations, be sure to also scroll over my My Favorite Books of 2018.

I look forward to reading about your favorite movies in the comments!

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My Favorite Books of 2018

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus this past month after an unfortunate traveling oversight that came to overshadow all else, but I’m excited to return to my writing with one of my favorite posts to look back on as the months go by: My Favorite Books of 2018. It’s that time of the year!

I’ll start off by noting that I made it a goal of mine with this reading year to focus on reading as close to home as possible with highlighting more Jewish and Israeli books through my reviews, upon realizing with last year’s list, my Favorite Books of 2017, that even though I read close to 200 books, I could recall less than ten meaningful books, I made it a goal of mine to also focus on books that I can read for the enjoyment of reading, and not whether I can finish it quickly to add to my Goodreads goal.

And I’m so grateful that I came to find some of the best gems in Fiction and Nonfiction that have come to together to piece my life story book by book; the kind of books that have come to narrate my everyday thoughts through their quotes.

#1 The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone started off my year on a bang by focusing on a rural outlandish landscape of Alaska, which was a place I had yet to read and discover through reading. The extreme conditions paired with the utmost careful precious in character descriptions made me take notice of this book rather quickly. The budding romance with Leni and Matthew that develops over the pages then took front notice in my mind; it’s still what I hold most closely when I think back on this book. I tend to reread my review from time to time to revisit the quotes I shared for this emotional pair. I always think back on this particular passage, which captures perfectly that moment when you can’t see past someone anymore:

“It didn’t take Leni long to know that she was in trouble. She thought about Matthew constantly. At school she began to study his every move; she watched him as she would a prey animal, trying to glean intent from action. His hand sometimes brushed hers beneath the desk, or he touched her shoulder as he passed by her in the classroom. She didn’t know if those brief contacts were intentional or meaningful, but her body responded instinctively to each fleeting touch. Once she’d even risen from her chair, pushed her shoulder into his palm like a cat seeking attention. It wasn’t a thought, that lifting up, that unknown need; it just happened. And sometimes, when he talked to her, she thought he stared at her lips the way she stared at his. She found herself secretly mapping his face, memorizing every ridge and hollow and valley, as if she were an explorer and he her discovery.”

This captures so much.

Another powerful mark this book hit is when it comes to the mother-daughter relationship examined in a remarkably profound way.

“Mama was Leni’s one true thing.”

It still hits me, and it’s been nearly 10 months since I first read it.

#2 Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Save the Date-- bookspoils

Wedding shenanigans, family disasters, and childhood crushes are just the start of what Save the Date, Morgan Matson’s latest contemporary novel, covers in its summer whirlwind. I went into this expecting the usual summer fun, as I’m an avid reader of the author’s work, just like with Sarah Dessen’s summer contemporaries, that came to shape my own summers. Unknowingly, though, this book came at a time when I needed someone to lay it down, clear as day, the true reality of pining after someone. Matson covers the truth of getting together with someone you’ve put on a shining spotlight since day 1: the truth is all the tiny exchanges you recall moment by moment in their presence, they never even noticed you were there in the first place… and it’s just as crushing as it sounds. This says it all and more than I ever can:

“She didn’t know what it was like to look and wish and want, always two steps behind the person, always on the edges of their life. What it was like to stand next to someone and know you weren’t registering with them, not in any meaningful way. That you thought about someone a thousand times more than they’d ever thought about you. To know that you were just a face in the crowd scenes while they were center stage. And then, all at once, to have the spotlight finally swing over to you. To suddenly be visible, to be seen, no longer one of the people in the background who never get any lines. To suddenly be in the midst of something you’d only ever looked at from the sidelines. What that felt like when it finally happened, dropped in your lap when you were least expecting it, like a gift you were half-afraid to open.”

I can still hear the crushing note after he said: “Oh right,” Jesse said, even though I could tell he didn’t really remember.” She recalls something second by second just because he was in the frame, and he can’t even pull his memory to remember…

“He wasn’t who I thought he was all those years, because that person didn’t exist. That Jesse was just a compilation of everything I’d projected onto him, coupled with a handful of real-life interactions that I’d given far too much value to.”

I needed to hear this loud and clear back in May. Seeing yourself from the sidelines grants you clarity like nothing else.

But the truth I realized looking back now after so much has changed, I finally understand why YA is so fun to seek out, for me, because going back to that time in your life when your biggest issue was whether this boy would notice you back is something that is light years away from worrying about something like covering the bills, etc. No one warns you about what’s to come and how much you should be enjoying those simple worries because there’s so much ahead to fret about…

Oh, and there’s comics!

#3 Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon

Bad Jews -- bookspoilsThis play screamed my name, and I’m still recovering from its aftermath. I’ve never felt as exposed as reading the masterful dialogue within this family conflict. There’s some comfort to be taken in someone expressing what you failed to do in live arguments and could only think up hours after the heated verbal attack; Daphna Feygenbaum is the truth-saying queen of my heart.

Bad Jews follows a vicious and hilarious brawl over family, faith, and legacy, while opening many truths most of us like to keep hidden deep down. With the season of holidays being on the doorstep, I have a particular page on loop said by Daphna (most of my favorite lines were hers) to her brother Liam, who’s strayed a bit too far, that I feel compelled to share as a glimpse into this incredible play:

“As a Jew …” because then you’re a Jew, but only when you can use it to bash all things Jewish which somehow makes you stand a little taller, doesn’t it, puts a little pep in your step like you’re so fucking enlightened even though you reek of fucking cliché; you haven’t lit a menorah since the nineties, but hello Facebook photos of you in a Santy Claus hat ho-ho-hoing it up next to the Christmas tree you put up in your apartment, and it was kind of obvious that, for whatever reason, you actually liked wearing that cheap fake crushed red velvet hat with the shitty white pom pom on the end, or maybe it wasn’t the hat, maybe it was just getting to stand under the mistletoe and smooch paper-cut-lips Melody, amazing, dynamic, smart-as-shit Melody, the icon of your ideal woman…”

I can’t think of any other writer who has said things so clearly with as much passion. I wish I could make everyone read this, and if not everyone, then at least to the one ‘Liam’ we all know, or have, in our lives.

#4 The Storyteller by Eshkol Nevo

Nevo’s The Storyteller remains to be one of the most honest Fiction books with the most interesting format I’ve read this year. The way the story is told is through this neverending interview of an author answering the rawest questions through life, i.e. constant dialogue that shows and doesn’t simply tell, which is all I want in my books (and why the other favorite on this list is a play).

It not only covers intimate truths and their quiet impact, but it explores such a grand scope of themes hidden in the blurred lines between truth and fiction that simply gathering them all together in one paragraph would make my head spin; it’s both grandiose and simplistic in the book. It all comes together like tiny glimpses and snapshots that make up a lifetime. Read, read, read it. Or check out my review here.

#5 Bound Up Soul by Lior Engelman

קשורה בנפשו

The previous book (#4) being my first Hebrew novel that I read from cover to cover, inspired me to check out more of the kind when this landed in my hands, courtesy of my local library. I haven’t stopped thinking about it for the past two Shabbats when I first read it.

Unfortunately, this book was read when on my writing hiatus, fortunately, it also arrived at the time closest to the end of the year to be featured on this list when it’s still fresh in mind. Though I do tend to update my Goodreads more frequently, which you can check out here:bookspoils

On some level, I’m glad I didn’t hurry into writing down my thoughts right after completing the book because after sitting with it on my mind for a few days I realized the reason I connected with it on such a deep level stemmed from the fact that this is the first book I’ve read that undertakes the process of tshuva by covering all the multi-faceted aspects that accompany it, like what do you do when you’ve seen the right way to live but the people you left behind before you made the discovery aren’t on the same page? And what do you do if those people are your family? I’m still struck by what was accomplished during the Pessach scenes, and the Seder Pessach, in particular, it was like watching a camera rotating the family closer and closer till they all exploded; masterful writing captured this scene to the point. I couldn’t even begin to capsulize it. Ultimately, it’s about a mother’s love for her son.

#5 Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Diary Edited by Ari Folman, Illustrated by David Polonsky

This graphic diary edition of Anne Frank’s Diary shares a visual account on Anne Frank’s story through her written words, and it makes for a powerful rendition. There’s so much to be said when words fail you with the tragedy surrounding her at the hands of the Germans… But my mind keeps rolling back to this particular introspective passage:

In everything I do, I can watch myself as if I were a stranger. I can stand across from the everyday Anne and, without being biased or making excuses, watch what she’s doing, both the good and the bad. This self-awareness never leaves me, and every time I open my mouth, I think, ‘You should have said that differently’ or ‘That’s fine the way it is.’ I condemn myself in so many ways that I’m beginning to realize the truth of my Father’s adage: ‘Every child has to raise itself.’ Parents can only advise their children or point them in the right direction. Ultimately, people shape their own characters.

This narrates my perspective.
Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55Ending this post made me realize just how dearly I’ve come to miss the feeling of expressing myself through writing. It grants me so much peace and clarity afterward that I feel like me again after such a long time.

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For similar movie recommendations, be sure to also scroll over to my My Favorite Films of 2018.

I look forward to reading about your favorite books in the comments!

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