Past Tense

Jewish Historical Fiction for Hanukkah

Hi historical fiction fans and Happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating!

I’ve been reading a whole lot of holiday books recently, everything from Christmas romances to wintery fantasy, and it’s been the perfect thing to get me in the holiday spirit. That and the homemade marshmallows I’ve been making. (Surprisingly easy even for someone who’d never made them before, fwiw.) Whether you’re celebrating now, in the weeks to come, or simply enjoying the season, I’m wishing you a very merry holiday!

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge is in its ninth year. Through a series of 24 tasks / prompts, Read Harder invites readers to expand their worldview through books. Read one book per task, or do some multi-tasking by counting one book for multiple tasks. We’re easygoing! The point of the challenge is to push yourself to expand your horizons. Thank you to Thriftbooks for sponsoring Read Harder 2023.

To find the tasks and subscribe to our newsletter for tips and recommendations, visit Read Harder 2023.

Bookish Goods

Bookmark featuring a young Black girl reading a book

Black Girl Reading Bookmark

Who doesn’t love a good bookmark, especially one featuring a young Black girl reading? $2.50.

New Releases

All the Lost Places Book Cover

All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes (December 13, 2022)

A baby found floating in a basket along the canals of Venice is raised by a guild of five artisans who train him in their crafts. But this is not only the story of Sebastien Trovato; for a century later, a man on assignment to translate a rare books tries to answer the lingering questions about Sebastien’s life.

The Secret Society of Salzburg Book Cover

The Secret Society of Salzburg by Renee Ryan (December 27, 2022)

An Austrian opera singer and a young English typist join together to create a secret society with one important mission: rescue as many Jewish people from Nazi persecution as possible.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

With the first week of Hanukkah well under way, I thought it would be a great time to share some historical fiction by Jewish authors about Jewish experiences. Hanukkah is a time of celebration so let’s celebrate Jewish history with some excellent Jewish historical fiction!

Eternal Life Book Cover

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

A woman who made a spiritual bargain to save her son’s life from the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple during Roman occupation now lives with the consequences: eternal life. She’s buried numerous children and grandchildren and lived to see tragedy and triumph, but now she’s done. After 2,000 years of living, can modern technology help Rachel find a way out or will she be stuck being reborn into an 18-year-old body for the rest of eternity?

The Dollmaker of Krakow Book Cover

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero

In this magical novel, a living doll is whisked away to Poland in the company of a Dollmaker with a storied past. The two are soon befriended by a local violinist and his daughter. But when their new friends are threatened by the Nazi soldiers descending upon Poland, Karolina and the Dollmaker become determined to save them no matter the cost.

That’s it for now, folx! Stay subscribed for more stories of yesteryear.

If you want to talk books (historical or otherwise), you can find me @rachelsbrittain on Instagram, Goodreads, Litsy, and occasionally Twitter.

Right now I’m reading Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire. What about you?