Mayim MishegaasMayim Mishegaas

My Top 5 Books of Impact

For "Get Caught Reading Month," Mayim presents the five books that best define her
By Mayim Bialik     Published on 05/18/2016 at 2:42 PM EDT

In this age of technology, I know that bookstores are becoming a thing of the past and that books themselves – the way people of my generation know them – are also becoming a thing of the past. But there is nothing like holding a book in your hand and getting lost in the story. Books have been a source of inspiration and hope for me in my darkest times and a source of beauty and emotional depth since the reading bug bit me in high school.

And today, it’s Get Caught Reading Month: while I wish I could share with you all of my favorite books with appropriate descriptions of each one and what it means to me, it would take me until next Get Caught Reading Month to do that!

Instead, I have chosen the top five books that I feel sum up who I am.

There is a book about our role in the global economy and struggle for survival, as told by a gorilla. There is a classic novel by one of the finest writers and most elusive personalities of the 20th century.  There is a convoluted and profound love story. There is an epic magical realism journey into the life of a complicated family. And there is a story of Jewish struggle and survival through one of the most unusual lenses of World War II.

I hope you read them all and let us know what you think!

The Story of B, by Daniel Quinn. This is one of those books that some people read and it totally transforms their life and other people read and they think, “What’s the big deal?” I was astounded by how much important information about the structure of society and economy you can get from a book that is also poetic and tells an amazing story like a great novel would.  There are two other books in this series (Ishmael, and My Ishmael) and I recommend those as well, but this is the first and it’s the place to start.

Franny and Zooey, by JD Salinger.  JD Salinger is best known for writing The Catcher in the Rye, but he actually has written a lot more books. He is one of my favorite authors for his ability to tell stories of interesting and precocious and intelligent people struggling to make sense of the world that usually doesn’t make sense. Franny and Zooey is a book about two of the siblings in the fictional glass family that JD Salinger created.  This is one of the best examples of his skill in storytelling and literary craftsmanship. It’s entertaining, but it’s also very deep.

The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss.  I tend not to like sappy love stories, and this book is not a sappy love story. It is, however, a story of two separate lives that come together because of a tremendous love story. I chose this book as my Book-of-the-Month club pick earlier this year, and I cannot overstate how powerful and beautiful this book is. It’s about a lonely old man and an eccentric and inquisitive young girl who are both on a journey driven by a mysterious set of letters that ultimately brings them together. It’s phenomenal.

100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 100 Years of Solitude is a really complicated and epic journey. Marquez writes magical realism, which means he bends the notions of reality while keeping a story deeply grounded in reality.  This book tells the story of a complicated family in a town which is meant to represent Marquez’s native Colombia and how their lives and their loves and the themes of their lives and their loves repeat over and over in a century.

Out of The Depths, by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. I’ve read a lot of books in my life, and I’ve read a lot of books about World War II and the Holocaust in particular.  I can safely say that this is literally quite possibly the most absolutely unbelievable story about a boy who survived the Holocaust. The phrase “against all odds” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how one human being, if it’s possible to say that any human being was destined to survive something, survived this. From the time when, as a small child, he was hidden by his brother inside a pillow case to keep him safe to his numerous brushes with death to finding a wellspring of generosity in what turned out to be the salvation of an incredibly important soul, this book teaches so much about what it means to be Jewish, what it means to be hunted, what it takes to survive, and what role your actions and your faith can play in your ultimate redemption.

What’s your favorite book? What will you get caught reading today?

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