When I was in second grade my mother told me to read upside down. "You're reading too fast," she said, "it's upsetting the teacher." She had been instructed to do this as a child, and it was only natural for her to pass this wisdom on to me. Even now, I occasionally flip the book over in order to savor the story.
Children in general are less particular than adults, and as a child I devoured books indiscriminately. We went to the library every Friday after school, and I was allowed to check out ten books. Five could be what my mother called "junk"--meaning Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. The others were more substantial ones recommended by the librarian. Sweet Valley Twins (or High), The Chronicles of Narnia and The Giver were my stalwart companions on long, lazy Saturday afternoons. "I am so glad you came today, Sarah," Mrs. Shankman, the librarian, would say every week, as if surprised to see me. "I have two new books that I really need your help with. Read them over and let me know where you think the library should put them."
These days, I am lucky if I get through a full chapter on Saturday afternoon before I fall asleep on the couch. As with so many people, life pulls me in all directions and I have far less time to read than I used to; my nightstand is crowded with books I promised myself I would read, my coffee table littered with books I promised others I would read and my bookshelves full of books I know in my heart I will never read. Not to mention the dozens of books that cross my desk every week at Moment by up-and-coming novelists, veteran journalists or self-published memoirists.
The sheer number of options can be paralyzing. In Moment's summer books issue, we try to provide some rough guidelines to help make your next trip to the library, bookstore or Amazon easier. Our staff asked experts and aficionados to recommend their top five books on timely and intriguing subjects. Want to understand trends in American Judaism or find the best Jewish romance? We give you five curated options to choose from. Of course, we expect some disagreements and welcome your comments, quibbles and recommendations...