It's a weird day. Taking a Monday off, especially when not everyone else at work does leaves me slightly off-balance for the rest of the week. But, Yom Kippur was good and a ton of kugel before Kol Niedre services meant I didn't almost pass out during day services, which is what usually happens. Also, I'm blessed to have an awesome group of friends here in DC to celebrate Jewish holidays with.
Meanwhile, I'm rocking out to the music we used to dance to in college, thanks to my friend (and physics partner extrodinaire) Kat.
Also, this weekend, I did a bunch of work on The Reading Challenge Clearinghouse. Most of it is stuff behind the scenes that will make things run much more smoothly for me, but in addition to the blog, you can follow the blog on Twitter @ReadChallenge and be our fan on Facebook. All the more ways to find out about reading challenges!
My favorite thing about the Reading Challenge project is a surprise benefit. I find out about reading challenges three ways---things I come across in my surfing, things people tell me about, but mainly through a few Google alerts I have set up. These Google Alerts have turned me on to so many new book blogs out there. I've discovered so many new blogs! It's great! And, it's something that never occurred to me when I was designing the project.
Also, I'm still looking for questions/topics that you would like a panel of bloggers to discuss at the KitLitCon next month!
And now, a book review of an extraordinary book that everyone should read:
Emil and Karl Yankev Glatshteyn
Vienna in the late 1930s. Karl's father is long dead and the story starts with the men coming to take away his mother. He runs to his friend's house. Emil is his best friend, but Jewish, so Karl hasn't been able to see him lately. Emil's father was taken away by the men, too. He was killed and the ashes returned. They've just had the funeral. In the morning, his mother has lost her mind, the rabbi takes her away.
Emil and Karl are orphans in a city gone mad, where no one knows who they can trust or what's going to happen next.
Most books about the Holocaust are about the tension, the waiting, the hardships. This is a horrific madhouse hallucination of a city turned on its head. It takes the same confusion and horror, but tells it in a way I've never read before in a holocaust story.
What's amazing about this book is that it's one of the first holocaust stories ever written, especially for kids. It was published in Yiddish in 1940, to let Jewish-American kids know what was happening to their European counterparts. In 2006, it became available in English for the first time. It is one of the most terrifying holocaust stories I've read, and not even the author knows what's going to happen next and how much worse things are about to get. It just boggles my mind.
The story of the book itself makes Emil and Karl important, but the unique take on a tragic event that has been extensively covered in children's literature makes it even more important.