Posted by: jbwuk | December 19, 2011

60 Great Jewish Book of the last 60 Years

On the occasion of JBW’s 60th anniversary, we have decided to attempt the impossible task of listing 60 great Jewish books of the last 60 years.

The discussions were so heated that at some stage the whole idea seemed doomed. I take full responsibility for the list done in consultation with members of the Jewish Book Council. This is a list which aims at reflecting what Jewish Book Week stands for: culturally Jewish, open minded, probing, consensual. Limited to 60, it was unfortunately impossible to include many cutting edge  books which I’m sure we’ll have established themselves and be part of future lists.

Some people thought we should only have Jewish authors. For me, this would be anathema. When inviting speakers to JBW, I really don’t care whether they are Jewish or not as long as their book is relevant. I will not invite a speaker simply because he or she is Jewish and will always strive to find something in the book, however tenuous (and sometimes, it’s true, the link is extremely tenuous) that will justify the invitation. Obviously this also came up in drafting the list and there were countless authors we would have wanted to include but couldn’t.

Some people thought that we should consult specialists in every possible field but this would suppose an endless task and deny the sheer impossibility of coming up with a perfect list.

And then of course, fortunately, we all agreed on not even attempting to rank the books, an absurd task in my view. Let’s say these are 60 great books everyone should know about and hopefully read.

So here it is. The list is now on the website. Every one of you will think of books that are missing and that’s exactly what we would like to hear from you. Email us your suggestions or post them on our facebook or twitter pages. But remember for every book you suggest, you should also remove one from the list and hopefully tell us why.

Those 60 and quite a few more will be available in the book fair at Kings Place. There will also be an audio booth where you will be able to record your choices.

I must shamefully confess there are more books on the list I haven’t read than books I have read but what a delight to know I can look forward to discovering all these “musts”. And if you didn’t know what to get for your friends and loved ones for Hanukkah, you don’t have to look further than this list!

Wishing you all the very best.

Geraldine D’Amico

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