“Make books your companions; let your bookshelves be your gardens: bask in their beauty, gather their fruit, pluck their roses, take their spices and myrrh. And when your soul be weary, change from garden to garden, and from prospect to prospect.”

— Judah ibn Tibbon, 12th-century Jewish scholar


Welcome to our one city, one book program! Every two weeks, we’ll post discussion questions and food for thought on a different section of “Here I Am.” Read along and participate in our online discussion by sharing your thoughts and questions in the comments section of each post. And on April 26, you’ll be able to ask these questions of Jonathan Safran Foer himself, in person, and get author insights into the rich and complex tapestry the novel presents. Here’s to a million conversations!

Why did we choose this book?

“Here I Am” is an extraordinary tale of family, identity and allegiance. We can each find ourselves somewhere in the story. Jonathan Safran Foer sets a mirror opposite American Jewish life and pushes us to ask what it means to be truly present. What defines us, as human beings, as parents, as partners, as Jews? Which of our many layered identities are drawn forward in which circumstances? In the face of crisis, from where do we draw strength? “Here I Am” engages with these questions and more. The book’s answers may or may not be your answers, but there’s only one way to find out. If you want to dip your toe into the water first, check out this book excerpt from The New Yorker.

Why join our community of readers?

The Boston-area Jewish community is diverse in age, geography and countries of origin. A shared reading experience brings us together and provides space for compelling conversations, in our homes, in our offices and beyond. You’ll discover other readers on the T, in Starbucks and maybe even on a bench in a neighborhood park once the weather gets warmer. Different voices will help us deepen our understanding of the book, ourselves and one another. Sign up to find out when each of the exclusive blog posts appears and to see if other readers are taking parallel or intersecting journeys with you through the book. You’ll also receive the latest information about the author event on April 26.

How can you bring “Here I Am” to your book group, or start a new one?

The publisher of “Here I Am,” Farrar, Straus and Giroux, has a terrific guide for book groups here. If your group is looking for new members, please post an event on JewishBoston.com (email support@jewishboston.com for help). Synagogues, schools and other Greater Boston communal organizations will be taking part in Read On as well. Check here for book club and event listings, and comment on this or future blog posts with insights and questions.

Let’s start reading! Our first discussion guide will appear here on Jan. 26. Can’t wait to hear from you then!

Read On with CJP’s Jewish Learning and Engagement here. And order a hardcover copy of the book here, a Kindle version here and a paperback version (coming in June) here.

This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and JewishBoston assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here. MORE