Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reading Chaim Potok

I have friends with great taste in literature.  Last summer I ventured out to read Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev as recommended by one of these friends.  I mentioned it here.  I enjoyed it but it was definitely a different style of reading for me and pretty thick with unknown terms (to me) used in the Jewish culture.  What I loved about it was that it placed me in an environment and culture that I really knew very little about.  And it also made me feel very smart to be reading a book that wasn't by Dan Brown and also was not intended for children!  

So when I was looking over another friends bookshelf and he told me that The Chosen by Potok was one of his favorite books of all time I thought I would check it out.  I would also feel smarter too!  Well I once again immersed myself into the war time Jewish culture of Brooklyn and wasn't disappointed.  I was pulled into this book much quicker than Asher Lev.  Perhaps the fact that it started with a tense baseball game was helpful.  I love the way Potok develops his characters and the pace at which he moves the story along.  It's definitely slower than most modern novels but I was still finding it difficult to put down.  His attention to detail and emotions really kept my attention even though there wasn't any kind of quick paced action.

Upon completing The Chosen my friend told me there was a sequel.  Well that was a good piece of news.  I felt like I had said good bye to two friends when I finished that book and now I would get to spend another week or two with them!  So I dove into The Promise.  I think I actually enjoyed this one the most out of the three Potok books I've read.  As I am no literary critic I'm guessing I just finally understood his style of writing and was able to get into the story quicker.  I found it interesting how so much of the story was based around one of the characters and his time in class with a particular teacher and how tense Potok made me feel while reading those passages.  I would finish reading a chapter and think back on it and wonder how I was so wrapped up in it.  A simple thing like students reading to their teacher and then explaining what they read was quite fun to read.  Potok did a great job in these classroom settings of not getting too technical with the content but still being able to explain why there was so much conflict about what they had read.  

Anyway, all that said I look forward to reading more Potok.  Maybe Davita's Harp will be next.  But right now I have some pop culture to take care of.  Hunger Games 1 complete, 2 half way done and 3 soon to be.  As well as the best seller Heaven Is For Real.  I'll post about these as I finish them up.



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