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:

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


Another perk of Borders? Comfy chairs!:


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!


“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
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
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. 🙂