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READING LIST: Daughters of Abraham Book Club
NUMBER OUR DAYS by Barbara Myerhoff. A study of aging through a portrait of elderly Jews in Venice, California. Describes ethical Jewish culture through the lives of this mostly immigrant community.
THE RITUAL BATH by Faye Kellerman. Detective fiction with an Orthodox Jewish woman and her policeman-love interest. Start with this book, and then read the Rina Lazarus novels in order to understand the development of the interfaith relationship between the Orthodox woman and Baptist policeman.
AS A DRIVEN LEAF by Milton Steinberg. Historical fiction based on Judea in the time of the Roman occupation. Examines the tension between religious life and secular high culture.
THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant. A retelling of the life of the biblical character Dinah through her childhood, short marriage, and adulthood.
AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE GARDEN OF EDEN by Yossi Klein Halevi. Jewish Israeli journalist spends time getting to know and worshipping with Muslims and Christians.
TALES OF THE HASIDIM by Martin Buber. Martin Buber has assembled and translated a comprehensive two-volume set of stories from the early and late Hasidic masters. Organized by master, with historic introduction and reference material.
JOY COMES IN THE MORNING by Jonathan Rosen. Contemporary American tale of a woman rabbi who falls in love with a secular Jewish man. Issues of faith, ethics, creating a Jewish home, observance of rituals, and the balance of public, rabbinic and family life.
RAMBAM’S LADDER by Julie Salamon. A study of the teachings of Maimonides about giving and how these principles can be practiced today.
THE FAR EUPHRATES by Aryeh Lev Stollman. Post-World War II/Holocaust childhood of a Jewish boy in Canada, told with biblical and Kabbalistic language and imagery. It is about understanding life and death, intellect, and finally faith.
A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS by Amos Oz. Covers the history of modern Israel from the vantage point of a participant.
HOLY DAYS by Lis Harris. A secular Jewish writer spends a year with a Brooklyn Hasidic family.
THE CHOSEN by Chaim Potok. Fiction about a relationship between two Jewish boys, one secular and one Orthodox, set in New York in the 1940s and ’50s.
RACHEL CALOF’S STORY by Rachel Calof and edited by J. Sanford Rikoon. A short account by Rachel Bella Calof of her childhood in Russia, her emigration to America for an arranged marriage, and much of her adult life homesteading in North Dakota. The account is succinct and yet tells volumes about her life and the hardships she endured with only her superstitious mother-in-law and other family members for support.
THE LAST OF THE JUST by Andre Schwarz-Bart. Schwarz-Bart’s 1959 novel is a chronicle of Jewish persecution beginning in England in 1105 and ending with the Holocaust.
CLOISTER WALK by Kathleen Norris. A married Protestant Christian woman spends two nine-month periods living with a celibate society of Benedictine monks. She discusses the life of having one’s days lived in an environment of frequent, scheduled prayer and one’s year marked by the saint days as well as other festivals. She also discusses celibacy and women’s history through the stories of the saints and the life stories of the nuns and monks she gets to know.
TRAVELING MERCIES by Anne Lamott. Memoir of finding faith and trying to live it.
LYING AWAKE by Mark Salzman. Fiction about a nun/mystic who faces serious illness and difficult decisions.
EVENSONG by Gail Godwin. The heroine of Godwin’s earlier novel, FATHER MELANCHOLY’S DAUGHTER, now a minister herself, must deal with a series of challenges to her marriage and her ministry. [EVENSONG provides more scope for discussion of Christianity, but it has more impact after FATHER MELANCHOLY’S DAUGHTER, a terrific novel that really deserves to be read first.]
THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by C.S. Lewis. Senior devil advises his apprentice on how to corrupt the soul of a hapless young man. A good view of Christian ideas of evil and temptation.
THINGS SEEN AND UNSEEN by Nora Gallagher. Liturgical year as seen by a woman who returned to faith as an adult Christian in the Episcopal tradition.
THE SEVILLE COMMUNION by Artuor Perez-Reverte. Rome-based priest learns about the importance of the local parish in a murder mystery set in contemporary Spain. The city of Seville is a starring character in the story.
OPEN SECRETS by Richard Lischer. Lutheran minister describes his first parish in his first year of ministry.
GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson. This novel in the form of a letter to a son from his minister-father covers the time of the American Civil War and the generations beyond.
THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY by Marcus Borg. A discussion of the emerging paradigm of Christianity and how this way of embracing the faith works.
BORDER PASSAGE by Leila Ahmed. Egyptian woman’s memoir of growing up in an Egyptian/Turkish family in the 1950s, going to college in England, and understanding the complex identity of Egyptian women in her time.
“BELIEVING WOMEN” IN ISLAM by Asma Barlas. A feminist study of Islamic texts that uses the Qur’an as a primary source.
EVEN ANGELS ASK by Jeffrey Lang. Memoir of finding faith and trying to live it.
THE CRUSADES THROUGH ARAB EYES by Amin Maalouf. History of invasion by European infidels in the Middle Ages, know to Westerners as the Crusades. This book describes the politics and culture present at the time of the Christian invasion and occupation.
THE HADJ by Michael Wolfe. American convert to Islam visits Morocco and goes on the Hadj.
POEMS OF ARAB ANDALUSIA. Amazing thirteenth-century poetry.
AN AUDIENCE OF ONE by Majid Mohiuddin. Contemporary Muslim poetry.
19 VARIETIES OF GAZELLE by Naomi Shihab Nye. Contemporary poems about the Middle East.
THE STORYTELLER’S DAUGHTER by Saira Shah. European-raised Muslim journalist has the opportunity to visit her Afghani homeland while covering the beginning of war years there.
ISLAM: THE STRAIGHT PATH by John Esposito. Thorough review of Islam. More historical and philosophical than it is social or practical.
STANDING ALONE AT MECCA by Asma Q. Normani. Memoir of an American-born Muslim woman who had been a foreign journalist and a friend of the late Daniel Pearl. She returns to America unmarried with her son, joins her family on Hadj, and defies the right-wing swing at her local mosque.
THE ADVENTURES OF IBN BATTUTA by Ross E. Dunn. Translation of the epic of a fourteenth-century traveling Muslim scholar who retells his 20-plus years of travels through the lands of Islam, from Tangiers to China and back.
SHADOWS OF THE POMEGRANATE TREE by Tariq Ali. Historical fiction set outside of Granada, Spain in 1495. It is the tale of a Muslim family adjusting to Christian rule after the fall of Muslim rule in 1492.
ISLAM IN AMERICA, a video produced by Lindsay Miller (Christian Science Publishing Society). Demonstrates the Five Pillars of the faith through interviews with American Muslims. At the same time, the history of Muslim communities in America is shown.
THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS by Huston Smith. We read the chapters on the three Abrahamic faiths to establish a common background from which to begin our dialogue.
ORNAMENT OF THE WORLD: HOW MUSLIMS, JEWS AND CHRISTIANS CREATED A CULTURE OF TOLERANCE IN MEDIEVAL SPAIN by Maria Rosa Menocal. Tells of a time and place (from 786 to 1492 in Andalusia, Spain) that is largely and unjustly overshadowed in most historical chronicles. It was a time when the three cultures — Judaic, Islamic and Christian — forged a relatively stable, though occasionally contentious, coexistence.
DAUGHTERS OF ABRAHAM: FEMINIST THOUGHT IN JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM edited by Yvonne Yazback Haddad and John Esposito
ABRAHAM: A JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THREE FAITHS by Bruce Feiler. A review of the biblical and historical Abraham.
THE ROCK by Kanan Makiya. Historical fiction based on the viewpoint of a Yemenite Jewish man who converts to Islam during the Prophet’s lifetime. He witnesses the Islamic takeover of Jerusalem and the building of the Dome of the Rock.
HEALING ISRAEL/PALESTINE by Michael Lerner. Rabbi Lerner reviews the history of the area, the development of Zionism, and then outlines his plan for peace.
A HISTORY OF GOD by Karen Armstrong. A comprehensive history of religious thought from Abraham to the present.
COMMON PRAYERS by Harvey Cox. About an interfaith Jewish/Christian marriage. Written through the eyes of a well-informed Christian husband who celebrates the Jewish liturgical year with his Jewish wife and child.