Off the shelf



June 13, 2018

Ah, summer. Time to grab an iced coffee and lounge on the beach with your favorite page-turner.

Whether you’re intrigued by hair-raising mysteries or heartwarming romance novels, there’s something for readers of all stripes to dive into this summer. To help kickstart your book hunt, we asked Hillel students and professionals what they’re reading.

One Hundred Suggestions by Rabbi Josh Bolton

“Much of One Hundred Suggestions was composed and published on Facebook. Yet, the ideas, encounters and images here capture a personal and raw human struggle in search of Jewish meaning and understanding in today’s world. Summer is the time to go offline, and thankfully for us, this insightful download from Rabbi Josh Bolton, who serves as a senior Jewish educator at Penn Hillel, will nourish the soul of the spiritual seeker.” — Ira Blum, Director of Jewish Student Life at Penn Hillel 

Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? by Heath Fogg Davis

Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? written by Heath Fogg Davis, questions the idea and necessity of gender categories. Using case studies, Davis explains how these markers can quickly serve to exclude individuals, and why male and female identifications should be extinguished; proposing a significant shift in how U.S. organizations think of sex and gender identity.” — Jordyn Zimmerman, Ohio University Hillel ’20

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is the perfect summer book to pick up and then binge watch on Hulu —  if you aren’t already hooked. This twisted tale of a near dystopian future is told through the eyes of a woman struggling for survival in what used to be the United States of America. With its dark undertones of World War II and the Holocaust, this surreal story serves as a reminder of what can happen when extremists are put in power. Written in 1985 by Margaret Atwood, the story remains just as eerily relatable today — more than 30 years later.” — Tara Levy, IACT Israel Engagement Coordinator at University of Miami Hillel

Chasing Hillary by Amy Chozick

“I recently devoured Chasing Hillary, written by Amy Chozick, a reporter for the New York Times who covered both of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns. Despite knowing the book’s outcome, I found it totally gripping. It’s both a reflection on Clinton’s many selves and a story of Chozick’s own evolution — and the soapy campaign details don’t hurt, either.” — Reut Cohen, University of Toronto Hillel ’19

Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yusuf

“The Son of Hamas brings the personal and amazing story of Mosab Hassan Yusuf, the eldest son of one of the Hamas leaders in the West Bank, Sheikh Hassan Yusuf, who on ideological grounds, decided to cross lines and cooperate with the Shin Bet. For a decade he managed to help thwart dozens of suicide bombings and to expose suicide squads and terrorists, including those who planned to assassinate senior Israeli officials, such as Shimon Peres and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. In the Shin Bet, Masab is considered the most reliable and senior source the security establishment has ever managed.” — Talia Ben-Lulu, Hillel Israel ’21

Understanding American Jewish Philanthropy by Marc Lee Raphael

Understanding American Jewish Philanthropy is a collection of essays and articles that takes an in-depth look at the Jewish communal sector through the lens of the federation system. Though first written in 1979, the lessons it gives for professional and lay leadership are just as applicable today. Most importantly though, the issues that it brings up and aims to address are some of the very same ones that the Jewish community still faces today — showing that more often than not crises are overblown.” — Ross Beroff, Northeastern University Hillel ’18

Criminal hosted by Phoebe Judge 

“My interest in criminal justice is fueled by incredible stories about people and crime. Sometimes episodes in the podcast Criminal can be shocking and exhilarating while others can be more cerebral. I am always drawn in by the fascinating analysis Phoebe Judge provides on true crime. The sensationalized way we are used to hearing about crime is left behind in Criminal for a much more realistic and up close look at these incredible stories.” — Joshua Hare, American University Hillel ’19

Queen’s Code by Alison Armstrong 

Queen’s Code by Alison Armstrong illustrates the different thinking patterns of men and women. Men’s and women’s brains are wired differently, which can cause friction and misunderstandings in relationships. Armstrong explores a new approach for interacting with men. Whether you’re interacting with a colleague, brother or boyfriend, it’s important to learn how to effectively communicate with the opposite sex.” —  Jen Weintraub, Engagement Associate at University of North Texas Hillel 

Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden

“Joe Biden’s memoir Promise Me Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose gives the reader an intimate look into Vice President Biden’s personal life, along with a glimpse of his travels and negotiations during official visits with foreign dignitaries. Throughout the book, the reader follows a journey of discovery but also suffering as Biden details the hardships of losing a loved one.” — Jessica Sugarman, Springboard Fellow at University of Central Florida Hillel 

Sistah Vegan by A. Breeze Harper

“Written by A. Breeze Harper, Sistah Vegan is a compilation of stories and anecdotes from women across our country in which the complicated relationship between our food industry, systems of oppression and compassionate consumption in America is discussed. I have absolutely loved the chance to learn and understand such interesting reflections of social justice and our environment.” — Michelle Kaplin, Penn State Hillel ’20