Author and book editor of The Jewish Journal
It's no accident that November is Jewish Book Month, because the "People of the Book" (as we are dubbed in the Koran) always tend to think of books when Hanukkah arrives in December. As far as I know, nothing in Jewish law or tradition requires that a book given as a Hanukkah gift must be by a Jewish author or on a Jewish topic -- we love a good beach read as much as any earnest member of the Oprah Book Club. My own list is an interfaith effort, and I am giving a few of these books as Christmas presents. All of them, however, embody at least some of the loftier values that Jews and Christians attach to their gift-giving holidays even as we are gorging on latkes or swigging another cup of eggnog, as the case may be.
"The Book of Genesis Illustrated", R. Crumb
"The Book of Genesis Illustrated" by R. Crumb (Norton, $24.95) offers not only the unexpurgated text of the first book of the Bible in its entirety, but also the frank depiction of bare breasts, frontal male nudity, and various random acts of violence. “Adult Supervision Recommended for Minors” is the warning label on the front cover. In other words, it’s absolutely faithful to what is really to be found in Holy Writ and, for that reason alone, it’s going to surprise and shock many unsuspecting readers. But it’s also a work of astute visual exegesis by the iconic artist of the 60s who gave us Mr. Natural and Fritz the Cat. Here’s one coffee table book that is actually going to be displayed on the coffee table at holiday parties, and it’s guaranteed to be a conversation-starter.
At the top of my list
out of 10
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