There are so many books, magazines, newspapers and online material that I wish I could read that it often seems like a futile quest. And then there is the reading material I need to complete in order to do my writing assignments on a daily and weekly basis. Whew. It's easy to feel intimidated but important to keep a sense of perspective, and read as much you can. Specifically, there are so many Jewish texts and books, biographies and news articles that I aspire to read, or feel guilty for not having read as of yet.

Mother Nature has provided help this winter: the weather is so bad, the road conditions so crummy, that you have more time to read! Why go out in search of vain entertainments, when you can sit on the couch and read? There has been plenty of snow, ice and slush, cold temperatures and strong winds, in Brooklyn, in much of the eastern United States, and indeed in parts of Israel, that we have reading time handed to us!

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We Jews are known as the People of the Book, and we have always been encouraged to read and study the Torah and other scripture. The concept of budgeting time to study Jewish texts even goes back to good old Joshua 1:8--"You shall think about it (Torah) day and night." And the idea that even a little bit of study is better than none is heartening to busy people such as myself.


But one of my personal problems is that I am a fitful, picky reader. I do have certain favorite topics (urban history, Jewish-American life and culture, architecture, Harry Potter, and others) but at times I pick up a bunch of books at the local library, and decide quickly that each one is a poor fit for me. However, in the past few months I have gone through a Chaim Potok phase. After years of passing over his novels, I finally read "My Name is Asher Lev," and "The Chosen." And I have enjoyed them greatly. I haven't agreed with every aspect of these books, but it is good to grapple with what you read.

Both these books are so deeply tied to the American Jewish experience, and in fact, to the Brooklyn Jewish experience (albeit several decades ago) that it makes perfect sense for me to read them. As I read them, I thought of the places in the books, the personalities and how they fit or clashed with Brooklyn at large.

Everyone of us has gaps in his or her reading history, and many people do not even realize how big a deficit they may have. it does become a great weight on one's shoulders. And sometimes you may wonder why you did not pick up a certain book, and read it, when you were younger. But whatever time you pick up a book and read it, realize that it's worthwhile that you finally tackled it. Even if it is about household repairs, preparing your taxes, something mundane like that. And if it is a Jewish book or a book on a Jewish topic,  it certainly adds to your knowledge, Make like Danny Saunders in "The Chosen," and read voraciously!

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