Tonight we light the 5th Chanukah candle. Here’s tonight’s question:
What are 5 books that have been influential or made a difference to you this year?
This year, my selections represent the kind of learning and comfort I needed including a tv series that was a welcome distraction.
Here is my list for this year:
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson. This book made me think about race and caste in a profound way. The way she compared racism in America, Nazi Germany’s oppression & extermination of the Jews & the Indian caste system hit me in the gut. She’s a brilliant writer & I think this book will be studied and discussed for a long time. Hopefully, it will lead to much needed and overdue change.
Aimless Love by Billy Collins. After our son Ben called me to read The Lanyard, a poem from this book that he said reminded him of me, I had to buy the book. Collins continues to make me smile. You can read the poem here.
Jewish Reflections on Death by Rabbi Jack Riemer– This book contains an essay by Rabbi Milton Steinberg called “To Hold With Open Arms” about the preciousness of life, and the importance of being able to let go when the time comes. I read this essay in aftermath of my mom’s passing and the paradox of enormous gratitude in loss.
Devotions by Mary Oliver. This collection of poems from Oliver never fails to lift me up. Oliver’s awe of the smallest details in nature causes me to walk slower, and look deeper at the everyday miracles around us.
The Queen’s Gambit. This series on Netflix was such a welcome respite from the horror and sadness of the pandemic and the insanity of the political situation. In this year of enormous sadness, it felt good to get lost in the depth and passion of the protagonist’s interest in chess (something I do not share but admire.) And the way the series expressed the power of family and early childhood trauma and the gifts that emerge along the way felt very real.
Now it’s your turn. Please share in the comments:
What 5 books or movies have been important to you this year?
Make sure you sign up here for the Path With Heart newsletter for more inspiration and goodness.
A candle is a small thing. But one candle can light another. And see how its own light increases, as a candle gives its flame to the other. You are such a light. —Moshe Davis & Victor Ratner