The Chosen: A Recap

It’s official. Chaim Potok is definitely one of our favorite authors. He is an excellent storyteller! Did you read My Name is Asher Lev with us? We liked that one, too, and it was hard for us to decide which one of these books we liked best.

In short, The Chosen is the story of two boys, Reuven and Danny, who meet under hostile circumstances, live in different circles, and yet become very good friends. The story follows them through their growing up years, the end of World War II, and the death of president Roosevelt. Like My Name is Asher Lev, there is a sequel called The Promise which follows Reuven through the next phase of his life.

I marked up my book with quotes to share during our discussion:

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Take a look at this awesome beverage: (a perk to meeting at Borders!)

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Another perk of Borders? Comfy chairs!:

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Some highlights of the story were the baseball game at the beginning, the themes of sight and silence that Potok worked in seamlessly, and the interesting characters Reuven meets during his time in the hospital. What about you? Did you read the book? What were your favorite parts?Can I also say that I am SO excited about our next book? The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell- another excellent storyteller. We’ll be meeting on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) at 7pm at Borders. See you there!

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Silence

“He told me once he wishes everyone could talk in silence.” The Chosen, Chapter 3

So you haven’t been to book club in awhile… or ever… yet… But
you’re thinking of joining us this book-club-Thursday! Well, here is a
glimpse of what you can expect: No we don’t “Talk in silence” 🙂

Once upon a time, on Thursdays, we meet and discuss our current read.
Simple. Read the book, bring it, if you’d like, come and enjoy the
company of others who share the joy of reading.

This time of year you’ll find us at Borders. What better place to
meet than at a book store…well, maybe a library…but this way we can
all enjoy a hot beverage from the cafe. And not have to whisper.

We usually visit a bit before we start. Often, we’ll do some simple
introductions if necessary.

Then we jump in.

This week well be discussing The Chosen by Chaim Potok. Possible
topics for discussion might be:

Silence: Was this a good thing?
Vision and perception: What happen to these boys eyes as they grew?
Both their physical sight and their view of life and the world around
them.
The title: Why is this book titled The Chosen?
Females: Where are the women in this story?
Friendship: These friends were different in so many ways but were such
good friends, what made that work?

We often get out our TableTopics book club discussion cards at the end also.

And then we part, going our separate ways and live happily ever after to start the story over!

___________________________
The Chosen
7:00pm
Thursday February 17th
Borders @ Hamilton Town Center



This Month’s Author: The Incredibly Smart Chaim Potok

Chaim Potok is much, much smarter than me.

What else can you say about a man who started seriously writing at age 16, published and edited his college yearbook and graduated summa cum laude in English literature? This same man went on to be ordained as a rabbi, traveled with the U.S. army as a chaplain in South Korea, served on faculty at the University of Judaism, and worked on translating the Hebrew Bible into English. And those are just a few of his accomplishments!

Potok wrote a number of novels, plays and academic works. The Chosen is actually his first novel and was published in 1967. It was nominated for the National Book Award, which is one of the most prestigious awards in American literature. It was made into a film released in 1981, which won the top award at the World Film Festival in Montreal, and Chaim made a cameo appearance as a professor in the film.

Through Potok’s work, we get a glimpse of what life was and in some ways is still like for Orthodox Jews. But his work also speaks about relationships and friendships, which are things we all can relate to.

I think that is why we can learn so much from reading, especially quality, worthwhile books. Hopefully as we read books by those who are smarter than us, we can learn more from them and maybe discover things about ourselves that we might not have known before. And hopefully Chaim Potok’s The Chosen will help us do just that!

So even though Chaim Potok is much, much smarter than me, I’m OK with that.

I hope you are enjoying The Chosen and can come to Border’s on February 17 at 7 p.m. to discuss it with us. It’s been a cold, dreary, snowy February so far, so some hot coffee or tea, a night out, and great book are sure to help beat the winter blues!

Trust me. It’s awesome.

Our book for the month of February is The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

Yes, that’s right. He’s also the author of My Name Is Asher Lev which we read have already read as a book club.

I know. There are SO many good books and authors out there, but there’s a reason why we chose to read another one of his books.

Oh, you want to know what it is? Easy. Because it’s good.

What do you mean that’s not a good enough reason? Ok fine. Potok is easily one of the best story tellers that I’ve ever come across. The framework for this novel is completely different than Asher Lev – even though the setting is fairly similar. That takes a lot of talent. Plus, we just read A Year of Living Biblically, so we should be all caught up on our Jewish vocabulary. 🙂 The time period of the book is WWII and into the post-war period. It’s a look at a group of people very affected by the war itself and the fallout after the war. But more than that, it’s a story about fathers and sons and friendship.

Well, since you asked nicely, I will share some great quotes that will hopefully peak your interest that Sarah found for me.

(Give me a break! My copy just came yesterday, and it’s been a few years since I read this.)

Right. Quotes. Sorry. I’m a little scatter-brained.

I sat on the lounge chair in the shade that covered the porch and looked out at the back lawn. Somehow everything had changed. I had spent five days in a hospital and the world around seemed sharpened now and pulsing with life. I lay back and put the palms of my hands under my head. I thought of the baseball game, and I asked myself, Was it only last Sunday that it happened, only five days ago? I felt I had crossed into another world, that little pieces of my old self had been left behind on the black asphalt floor of the school yard alongside the shattered lenses of my glasses.

“Ah,” my father murmured. He was silent for a moment. Then he said quietly, “Reuven, listen to me. The Talmud says that a person should do two things for himself. One is to acquire a teacher. Do you remember the other?” “Choose a friend,” I said. “Yes. You know what a friend is, Reuven? A Greek philosopher said that two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul.” I nodded.

See. Told ya. That last quote is a great representation of the book as a whole, and so go read it! It’s the perfect snowed-slash-iced-in-and-can’t-go-anywhere-because-I’m-too-lazy-to-scrape-my-car-read. 🙂

Monday

From the feedback I’ve received, I’m going to switch our meeting time to Mondays, –instead of busy, busy Saturdays.

Our next meeting, to discuss My Name Is Asher Lev, will be Monday August 17th. Please RSVP to me and let me know if you can make it. (either by leaving a comment or emailing me: [email protected])

Location is still TBD but we’ll probably be meeting at 7:00pm.

I am just pages away from finishing the book! I hope if you are reading it you are enjoying it as much as I am!!! Can’t wait to get together and discuss it!!!

happy reading!
Sarah

My Name is Asher Lev.

Why do you read? Sometimes I read to be entertained. Sometimes I read because I should. Sometimes I read because I want to think. Or, rather, I want to be thought-full. To me, great books are ones that both entertain and teach. The best kind of teaching comes from books. This is not the kind of teaching that tells you, “two plus two is four.” What great books offer is an opportunity for your mind to envelop a thought, idea, or perspective and chew on it for awhile. Your brain picks up tidbits of story and puts them together to form knowledge. A good book gives this to you, and you hardly even notice because you’re distracted by the story.

My Name is Asher Lev is one such great book.

My biggest complaint about many of the books I had to read in high school is that they were AWFUL. This isn’t to say that the writing was bad, but that they were filled with stories of horrible things. Asher Lev is my big “I told you so!” to high school literature.* The story isn’t fanciful and full of hearts and flowers- bad things do happen. The story isn’t comprised of events, but of a character’s thoughts, feelings and observations. Events, both good and bad, shape the main character, Asher Lev, as the book follows him from a young age through to adulthood. The author, Chaim Potok, doesn’t tell you what to think, but rather gives you space to ponder. And he leaves you wondering, too. While the book concludes, it is the first of a series of books about the gifted Asher Lev of Brooklyn. A practicing Jew who painted a crucifixion.

So, I hope you read it. I hope you ponder. Life. Art. Relationships. Family. Value. Community. Whatever your mind latches onto within the words that Chaim Potok so thoughtfully placed together.

*I guess there were a few books I liked in high school. My teachers were excellent. I just prefer not to read about some things. I won’t go into details because I’m sure you had to read them, too 😀

change of plans

I hope I’m not scaring people away by changing things… again… but here I go. 🙂

Seeing that this is summer, and for most people, that means a BUSY schedule. We are pushing the book discussion on My Name Is Asher Lev back to Saturday August 15th. So, check your schedule! Are you free?! You should come!!!

Actually, that will be our last Saturday meeting. After that, we will most likely be meeting on Monday nights. But this is not set in stone. Would you rather it be a different week night? If so, please speak up!

Happy Reading!!!

My Name Is Asher Lev

This is our next book club read. You still have plenty of time to track down a copy of the book and read it before our July 25th discussion.

I’ll have to admit I haven’t started this book yet. (GASP! I know!) I try to be one book ahead or have at least read it sometime in the past. But not to worry. I have several trusted sources who tell me it’s a great one! If you’ve read it please feel free to leave some comments. I’d love to hear what you think of it! I do know Asher Lev is from a Hasidic Jewish family in 1940s in Brooklyn. Sure sounds intriguing to me!

I hope you all are enjoying the club! These books shouldn’t feel like assignments for school. (Although this particular book is often required reading for school.) If you have time to read and join us for the discussion, that’s great! But if you can’t make it or a certain book doesn’t strike your fancy, no worries. Maybe the next one will! Or better yet, let me know the type of books your interested in! There might be others interested in the same kind!

I haven’t got many surveys back, but I will probably slow the books down and not have one-month-books so often. If you haven’t responded to the survey questions, please take time to let me know your thoughts!

If you have friends or family who you think would be interested in joining us, invite them! This isn’t a closed club, any are welcome!

I am interested to hear who is planning on reading this book. Please leave a comment or send me an email. I’m hoping to start reading this week! I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

*important schedule update*

Due to next weekend being Father’s Day weekend and the busyness of summer schedules, I’m canceling the book club meeting for this month. (scheduled for next Saturday 6/20)

Sorry if this is short notice, I was waiting to see how our turn-out would be before saying anything, and it seems everyone is busy! (somehow this happens often in the summers!)

We will meet next to discuss My Name Is Asher Lev on July 25th. I’ve heard many of you express that you were looking forward to this book!

Happy Reading!
Sarah