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The Bookshelf: JWA’s 2017-2018 Book List


My Jewish Year

My Jewish Year

by Abigail Pogrebin

In this humorous, insightful memoir of religious exploration and personal growth, writer Abigail Pogrebin sets out to learn more about her Jewish identity by observing all eighteen Jewish holidays in one year.

Discussion Questions


The Book of Separation

The Book of Separation

by Tova Mirvis

Tova Mirvis was raised as an Orthodox Jew and married into the faith despite misgivings about this way of life. But by age 40, her doubts overpowered her; this courageous memoir tells the story of her decision to leave her husband and religion and strike out on her own.

Discussion Questions


He, She, It, by Marge Piercy

He, She, It

by Marge Piercy

This classic feminist cyberpunk novel by author Marge Piercy explores themes of gender roles, environmentalism, love and identity through the story of a human-cyborg romance in a post-apocalyptic America, interwoven with the famous folktale of the golem of Prague.

Discussion Questions


Ways to Disappear

Ways to Disappear

by Idra Novey

This debut novel by poet and translator Idra Novey tells the story of a Portuguese-to-English translator who flies to South America and embarks on a quest to find her favorite Brazilian writer, who has disappeared.

Discussion Questions


Option B

Option B

by Sheryl Sandberg

In the aftermath of her husband’s shocking death, Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg had to confront hardships and situations she never imagined. Option B is both a personal memoir of those hardships and a history of humanity’s capacity for resilience.

Discussion Questions




by Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman is an author of two books and host of a podcast about women’s sexuality in modern America. In this, her third book, she explores how toxic cultural forces saddle women with shame, fear and anxiety around their sexuality--and offers solutions for readers to take agency over their own experiences and lives.


Ester and Ruzya

Ester and Ruzya

by Masha Gessen

In this family memoir, journalist Masha Gessen tells the story of her two grandmothers, friends who survived the tumult of twentieth century Russia--World War II, communism, anti-Semitism--by navigating a thin line between what they knew was right and what they had to do to survive.


The Mother of All Questions

The Mother of All Questions

by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit, author of the best-selling essay collection Men Explain Things to Me, returns for round two in this book of essays about feminism, gender, social justice, masculinity, rape jokes and much more.


Leaving Lucy Pear

Leaving Lucy Pear

by Anna Solomon

Anna Solomon’s novel explores motherhood, identity, and history through the story of a Jewish teenager living in Massachusetts in the early twentieth century who gives away her daughter; the Irish woman who finds and raises that daughter; and the social forces that eventually draw the two women together.


The Fortunate Ones

The Fortunate Ones

by Ellen Umansky

In this debut novel, Ellen Umansky tells the story of two women, one of them living in 1930s Vienna, one of them living in modern Los Angeles, and their connection to a Chaim Soutine painting. Spanning decades and continents, this is a heart-wrenching tale of secrets and forgiveness.


The Weight of Ink

Weight of Ink

by Rachel Kadish

This historical fiction novel, by Rachel Kadish, switches between London in the 1660s and present-day Amsterdam. It chronicles the struggles of two bright women--one of them a scribe for a blind rabbi, the other a Jewish historian--to balance their intellectual and emotional lives.


The Best of Everything

Best of Everything

by Rona Jaffe

In this 1950s novel, by Rona Jaffe, five young employees at a New York publishing company navigate the struggles and triumphs of forging careers and finding love in the big city. Both shocking and electrifying in its time, this classic book is a window into the lives of the career women of yore.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "The Bookshelf: JWA’s 2017-2018 Book List ." (Viewed on December 16, 2017) <>.


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