At the beginning of the summer, newspapers and magazine post their recommendations for summer reading.  I admit, I’m a little late but I thought I’d share with you anyway.

Lest you think that all I read is the heavy stuff that will follow this, I began the summer with A novel, by Nathan Englander. Thoughtful, humorous, timely and timeless, I recommend the book to you.  I’m also partial to Silva, Nesbo and Iles when it comes to international intrigue, spies, murder, drunken policemen and the heartbreaking mysteries of the Contemporary American South.

Summer also is the time when I can pay sustained attention to heavier reading – particularly as a foundation for work I’ll do with B’Chavana.

Before the summer I had begun Anger And Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice by the U of C philosopher Martha Nussbaum. She presents a thesis that is dense and complex, yet compelling.  I couldn’t focus on it well enough earlier, so now I’ve returned to it and plan to draw upon it for my teaching through the month of Elul – in prep for the High Holidays – and for my Rosh Hashana D’var Torah.

Our learning theme for the upcoming year will be American Racism. I’ve planned to launch that with a conversation the night of Rosh Hashana and with my Yom Kippur morning D’var Torah. In prep for that, I’ve gathered a list of titles – books, articles and podcasts. It’s a rather long list and I know that I’ll only get to a handful of them, but I thought I’d share them with you now in case any of them interest you.

* Of all of them, if I had to choose “must reading” I’d begin with the articles by Coates and Biss, and Coates’ Between The World and Me


  • “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic, June, 2014, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • “White Debt,”, NY Times, 12.5.15, Eula Biss.


  • One of my favorite podcasts is “On Being” with Krista Tippett.  There are any number of particular ones that address issues related to racism; in particular, I’ll listen again to “Let’s Talk About Whiteness” with Eula Biss, “WEB DuBois & The American Soul” with Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander and Arnold Rampersad, and “Are We Really Citizens Here?” with Annette Gordon-Reed and Titus Kaphar.
  • Another favorite podcast is “Hidden Mind” with Shankar Vedantam. I’ll look through its library for episodes on racism, bias and implicit bias.



  • Between the World & Me, Coates 
  • The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Dubois
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Bluest Eye,Toni Morrison
  • The Blacker the Berry, Wallace Thurman
  • The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, Langston Hughes
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley


  • These Truths: A History of the United States– Jill LePore
  • Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America – IbramX, Kendi 
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein
  • The Jim Crow Laws and Racism in US History, David K. Fremon
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
  • Locking Up Our Own:  Crime and Punishment in Black America, James Forman, Jr.
  • Waiting Till the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, Peniel E Joseph
  • Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-create Race in the 20thCentury, Dorothy Roberts
  • The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime & the Making of Modern Urban America, Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  • How To Be An Anti-Racist, IbramX Kendi
  • White Fragility, Robin Diangelo
  • Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland, Jonathan M. Metzl

I hope that you’ll add at least one or two of this long list to your reading during the summer and into the coming year.  They will present us with much needed information and an important look into a world about which we know so little.