20 best books on jews – 2023 reading list & recommendations

If you have ever been curious about the rich history, culture, and experiences of the Jewish people, then you’re in luck. We have curated a list of the 20 best books about Jews that will both inform and captivate you. Whether you’re looking to delve into the Holocaust, explore Jewish identity, or simply enjoy a beautifully written novel, these books on Jews are sure to leave a lasting impact. So, let’s embark on a journey through time and immerse ourselves in the stories that have shaped Jewish history.

The Weight of Ink

by Rachel Kadish

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish is a captivating book about Jews that weaves together two parallel narratives, separated by centuries but connected by an ancient mystery. Set in both 17th-century London and present-day England, this remarkable novel explores the lives of two Jewish women who face obstacles and triumphs in their pursuit of knowledge, identity, and independence.

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

by Daniel Mendelsohn

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn is an extraordinary book that delves into the fascinating world of Jewish history, memory, and identity. But don’t be fooled by its seemingly simple title, because this is not just another book about Jews. No, it is a powerful and deeply personal exploration of one man’s quest to uncover the truth about his family’s tragic past during the Holocaust.

The Golem and the Jinni

by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni is a captivating novel that intertwines fantasy and historical fiction, delving into the lives of two mythical creatures in the bustling streets of New York City.

Set in the late 19th century, this mesmerizing tale follows the extraordinary journey of a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to serve the Jewish community in the city. On the other hand, we have a jinni, a supernatural being of fire, who is accidentally released from a flask after being trapped for centuries.

As the golem and the jinni find themselves navigating a world they don’t fully understand, their paths unexpectedly converge, forging an unlikely friendship. They both struggle to adapt to human society while concealing their true natures.

Helene Wecker’s richly detailed narrative not only explores the immigrant experience in America but also delves into themes of identity, friendship, and the complexities of human nature. It is a book that immerses readers in both Jewish and Middle Eastern folklore, offering a unique perspective on cultural heritage and the power of storytelling.

With its vivid imagery and well-crafted characters, The Golem and the Jinni is a spellbinding page-turner that will captivate readers from start to finish. So, whether you’re seeking a fantastical adventure, a book about Jewish culture, or a tale of unlikely friendships, this book has something extraordinary to offer.

The Hare with Amber Eyes

by Edmund de Waal

The Hare with Amber Eyes is a captivating journey through time and culture, as we delve into the intricate world of a remarkable family and their collection of exquisite netsuke. But this is not just a book about Jews, it is a story that spans generations and continents, revealing the resilience and resilience of a family in the face of adversity.

The Plot Against America

by Philip Roth

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that delves into the world of Jewish Americans during a tumultuous period in history. Set in an alternate reality where the famous aviator and isolationist Charles Lindbergh becomes president, the book explores themes of anti-Semitism and bigotry in America.

This compelling narrative follows the experiences of the Roth family, who find themselves caught in the crosshairs of a government that gradually turns against the Jewish population. As they navigate through the rising tide of xenophobia and discrimination, the Roths face an uncertain future and must confront the challenges of living in a society that has turned its back on them.

The Plot Against America is not just a book about Jews; it is a powerful exploration of identity, resilience, and the fragility of democracy. Roth’s masterful storytelling and rich character development make this novel a captivating and emotional journey that will keep readers hooked from start to finish.

The Diary of a Young Girl

by Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl is an extraordinary book about the life of a Jewish girl named Anne Frank.

This captivating memoir provides a unique and profound insight into the experiences of Jews during the Holocaust. Anne, a spirited and intelligent teenager, documents her two-year period in hiding with her family in Amsterdam during World War II.

This poignant diary, filled with heartfelt thoughts and emotions, offers an intimate perspective on the struggles, fears, and hopes of Jews living in constant fear of discovery and persecution. Anne’s words paint a vivid picture of the daily challenges faced by those forced into hiding, as well as the profound impact of the war on their lives.

The Diary of a Young Girl is not just a book about Jews; it is a testament to the resilience and strength of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. Anne’s ability to find hope and beauty in the darkest of times is both inspiring and humbling.

This powerful memoir is a reminder of the importance of empathy, understanding, and remembrance in the face of hatred and discrimination. It serves as a timeless reminder of the atrocities committed against Jews during the Holocaust, ensuring that their stories will never be forgotten.

The Chosen

by Chaim Potok

The Chosen is a captivating book about the Jewish community written by Chaim Potok. Set in 1940s Brooklyn, this literary gem delves into the lives of two young boys from different Jewish sects, exploring the complexities of friendship, faith, and personal identity.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

by Michael Chabon

Are you ready to dive into a world where the Yiddish language flourishes? Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is a mesmerizing tale that takes readers on a thrilling journey through an alternate history. Set in Sitka, Alaska, this book on Jews, or rather, this captivating ‘Jews book’, introduces us to a community of Jewish refugees who settled in the region after World War II.

The Invisible Bridge

by Julie Orringer

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer is an extraordinary book about Jews that immerses readers into the lives of a Hungarian-Jewish family during World War II. This captivating novel explores themes of love, resilience, and the power of hope in the face of unimaginable adversity.

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

by James McBride

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother is a captivating memoir that delves into the intricate and extraordinary life of James McBride and his remarkable mother, Ruth. This book is not just a typical memoir; it is a beautiful mosaic of love, identity, and resilience.

Through McBride’s vivid storytelling, readers are taken on a journey that spans across time and race. The narrative weaves seamlessly between McBride’s own experiences growing up as a black man in America and his mother’s past as a white Jewish woman. It is a mesmerizing tale of two distinct worlds colliding and ultimately merging into one.

The Color of Water challenges societal norms and stereotypes, as it explores themes of race, religion, and the complexities of identity. Ruth’s unwavering love for her children and her determination to create a better future for them shines through every page, leaving readers with a sense of awe and admiration.

McBride’s writing style is both poignant and honest, transporting readers to the streets of Brooklyn, where his childhood was shaped, and to the deep South, where his mother’s painful memories reside. His storytelling is infused with humor, compassion, and a deep understanding of the human spirit.

At its core, The Color of Water is a celebration of love and family. It serves as a reminder that our backgrounds and experiences do not define us, but rather, it is the love and acceptance we give and receive that truly matters. This book is a testament to the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit, making it a must-read for anyone seeking inspiration and a deeper understanding of the human experience.

The Jewish War

by Flavius Josephus

Flavius Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, wrote an extraordinary book on the tumultuous events that unfolded during the Jewish War. This captivating account takes us back in time, immersing us in the heart of an ancient conflict that shaped the destiny of the Jewish people.

Josephus, a witness to these dramatic events, meticulously documents the rise of tensions and the subsequent eruption into war between the Jewish rebels and the mighty Roman Empire. With his vivid storytelling, he transports us to the battlefields, the besieged cities, and the political intrigues that unfolded during this tumultuous period.

This book about the Jews is not merely a dry historical account; it is a fascinating exploration of a people’s struggle to preserve their identity and freedom against overwhelming odds. Josephus delves into the religious, cultural, and political dynamics that defined the Jewish people, shedding light on their rich heritage and deep-rooted traditions.

Through his eloquent prose, Josephus reveals the complex interplay between religion and politics, the power struggles within Jewish society, and the dramatic clash between two great civilizations. As we delve into this Jews book, we witness the relentless determination of a people, their fierce resistance, and the tragic consequences that unfolded as a result.

Josephus’ account of the Jewish War is not only a historical masterpiece but also a profound reflection on the human spirit and the enduring resilience of a people. This book on Jews is a captivating journey that transports us to a pivotal moment in history, reminding us of the struggles and triumphs of an ancient civilization.

The Jews of Khazaria

by Kevin Alan Brook

The Jews of Khazaria, written by Kevin Alan Brook, is an enthralling exploration into the history and culture of a lesser-known group of people – the Khazars. This captivating book delves into the fascinating story of a medieval kingdom located in the heart of Eurasia, known as Khazaria.

While many may not be familiar with the Khazars, this book sheds light on their unique society and the significant role they played in shaping the history of the Jewish people. The Khazars, a Turkic people, converted to Judaism in the 8th century, making them one of the few non-Semitic groups to adopt this ancient faith.

Through meticulous research and extensive historical evidence, Brook uncovers the rich tapestry of Khazar life and their interactions with neighboring empires, such as Byzantium and the Arab Caliphate. The book paints a vivid portrait of a thriving civilization that embraced diversity and religious tolerance.

Brook’s work is not only a comprehensive account of the Khazar kingdom but also a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of Jewish identity. By examining the Khazars’ conversion to Judaism, the author challenges conventional notions and expands our understanding of the Jewish diaspora.

With its engaging narrative and thought-provoking analysis, The Jews of Khazaria is a must-read for anyone interested in history, cultural diversity, and the intricate web of interactions that shape our world. This book offers a fresh perspective on the Jewish experience and reminds us that history is a tapestry woven together by a multitude of diverse threads.

The Sabbath

by Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel is not just another book on Jews, but rather a profound exploration into the essence of Jewish spirituality and the significance of the Sabbath. Heschel takes us on a captivating journey through time and tradition, shedding light on the transformative power of this sacred day.

The Jewish Annotated New Testament

by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler

The Jewish Annotated New Testament is not just another book about Jews – it is a groundbreaking exploration of the connections between Judaism and Christianity. Written by renowned scholars Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, this unique work delves into the rich tapestry of Jewish history, culture, and thought that influenced the New Testament.

Unlike any other book on Jews, The Jewish Annotated New Testament provides readers with a fresh perspective on the origins of Christianity. By examining the Jewish roots of the New Testament, Levine and Brettler reveal the intricate interplay between these two ancient traditions.

This Jews book sheds light on how Jewish beliefs, practices, and interpretations shaped the writings of the New Testament. It explores the Jewish context in which Jesus and his earliest followers lived, highlighting the shared heritage that underpins both Judaism and Christianity.

With meticulous scholarship and engaging prose, The Jewish Annotated New Testament invites readers to embark on a captivating journey through history. By delving into the Jewish world of the first century, readers gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and religious milieu that shaped the teachings of Jesus and the early Christian movement.

Whether you are a scholar, a student, or simply curious about the connections between Judaism and Christianity, this book about Jews is a must-read. The Jewish Annotated New Testament illuminates the shared roots of these two faiths, fostering a greater appreciation for the diversity and richness of the Jewish tradition.

So, if you’re ready to explore the fascinating relationship between Judaism and Christianity, dive into The Jewish Annotated New Testament and uncover the profound connections that have shaped the course of history.

The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York

by Claudia Roden

The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden is a captivating culinary journey that delves into the rich and diverse history of Jewish cuisine. This remarkable book about Jews takes readers on an extraordinary adventure, exploring the flavors, traditions, and stories that have shaped Jewish food throughout the centuries.

Claudia Roden, a renowned food writer and anthropologist, weaves together personal anecdotes, historical accounts, and mouthwatering recipes to create a compelling narrative that celebrates the cultural tapestry of Jewish communities around the world. From Sephardic dishes originating in Spain and North Africa to Ashkenazi specialties rooted in Eastern Europe, Roden’s exploration of Jewish food showcases the incredible diversity and resilience of Jewish culinary traditions.

With meticulous research and a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of food and identity, Roden unveils the fascinating stories behind iconic Jewish dishes. From the humble matzo ball soup to the aromatic Sephardic tagines, each recipe is accompanied by captivating anecdotes and historical context, offering a glimpse into the lives and experiences of Jewish communities across continents and generations.

What sets this book on Jews apart is its ability to transcend mere recipes and transform food into a powerful storytelling medium. Roden skillfully combines her expertise as a food writer with her passion for Jewish history and culture, resulting in a book that not only tantalizes the taste buds but also educates and enlightens.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef, a history enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys exploring different culinary traditions, The Book of Jewish Food is a must-read. Through its pages, you’ll embark on a captivating odyssey that reveals the heart and soul of Jewish cuisine, leaving you with a profound appreciation for the enduring legacy of Jewish culinary traditions.

The Gnostic Gospels

by Elaine Pagels

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels is a captivating exploration of ancient texts that offer a unique perspective on spirituality, mysticism, and the enigmatic world of the early Christians. This thought-provoking book delves into the lesser-known scriptures that were discovered in Egypt in 1945, shedding light on the diverse beliefs and practices of early Christian communities.

By examining these ancient texts, Pagels takes us on a fascinating journey into the world of the Gnostics, a diverse group of early Christians who believed in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and direct personal experience of the divine. These texts provide a tantalizing glimpse into a religious movement that challenged mainstream Christianity and embraced a more mystical and esoteric understanding of faith.

Through her meticulous research and insightful analysis, Pagels introduces us to a range of Gnostic teachings and traditions, offering a fresh perspective on the rich tapestry of early Christian thought. She explores themes such as the concept of divine wisdom, the role of women in early Christian communities, and the complex relationship between Gnosticism and Judaism.

One of the most compelling aspects of The Gnostic Gospels is Pagels’ exploration of the Jewish roots of Gnosticism. She reveals how these texts illuminate the interplay between Gnostic and Jewish ideas, providing a deeper understanding of the diverse religious landscape of the time.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, a spiritual seeker, or simply curious about the hidden treasures of ancient texts, The Gnostic Gospels offers a captivating journey into a world of mystery, wisdom, and profound spiritual insight. Join Elaine Pagels as she unravels the secrets of these fascinating texts and invites us to reconsider the history and diversity of early Christianity.

The Jewish Century

by Yuri Slezkine

The Jewish Century by Yuri Slezkine is a captivating book that takes readers on an insightful journey through the history and experiences of a remarkable group of individuals often referred to as the “Chosen People” or the “People of the Book.” This fascinating book delves into the lives and achievements of the Jews, a people who have played a profound role in shaping the modern world.

The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience

by Jane S. Gerber

The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience by Jane S. Gerber

If you’re on the hunt for a captivating book that delves into the rich and intricate history of the Sephardic Jewish community, then look no further than The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience by Jane S. Gerber. This remarkable book takes readers on a fascinating journey through centuries of Sephardic Jewish life, shedding light on a community that has left an indelible mark on Spanish history.

With meticulous research and a compelling narrative style, Gerber brings to life the stories of the Sephardic Jews, who flourished in Spain for over a millennium. From their arrival in the Iberian Peninsula during the Roman Empire to their eventual expulsion in 1492, this book paints a vivid picture of a community that thrived intellectually, culturally, and economically.

Gerber explores the multiple facets of Sephardic life, from their language, Ladino, a unique blend of Hebrew and Spanish, to their contributions to fields such as science, philosophy, and the arts. She also delves into the complex relationships between the Sephardic Jews and the ruling Christian and Muslim powers, highlighting both periods of relative harmony and times of persecution.

What sets this book apart is Gerber’s ability to breathe life into historical events, making them feel both relevant and relatable. Through personal anecdotes, letters, and other primary sources, she humanizes the Sephardic experience, allowing readers to empathize with the joys, struggles, and triumphs of this resilient community.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a scholar, or simply someone curious about the Sephardic Jewish experience, The Jews of Spain is a must-read. Gerber’s expertise and passion for the subject shine through in every page, making this book an engaging and enlightening exploration of a vibrant and enduring culture.

The Invention of the Jewish People

by Shlomo Sand

The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that delves into the complex history and identity of a group often referred to as the “chosen people.” But don’t be mistaken, this is not just another run-of-the-mill book about Jews. No, Sand takes a bold approach, challenging traditional narratives and questioning the very notion of a distinct Jewish people.

In this groundbreaking work, Sand explores the origins of the Jewish people, digging deep into historical records and ancient texts to unravel the complex web of identities, migrations, and cultural assimilations. He argues that rather than being a homogeneous and unchanging entity, the Jewish people are a diverse and ever-evolving group, shaped by a myriad of historical, social, and political factors.

By scrutinizing the historical evidence and debunking long-held myths, Sand challenges the idea of a continuous Jewish nationhood, suggesting instead that Jewish identity is primarily a cultural and religious construct. He argues that the Jewish people are not a race or a biological entity, but rather a product of historical circumstances and shared beliefs.

This thought-provoking book takes readers on a journey through time, exploring the complex relationship between Jews and the land of Israel, the role of religious texts in shaping Jewish identity, and the impact of political ideologies on the formation of a Jewish nation. Through meticulous research and a critical lens, Sand invites readers to question the very foundations of Jewish identity and challenges the idea of a fixed and unchanging people.

So if you’re looking for a book that will challenge your preconceived notions about the Jewish people, delve into the complex history of identity, and ignite intellectual debates, then The Invention of the Jewish People is a must-read for you. Prepare to have your beliefs shaken and your knowledge expanded as you embark on this extraordinary journey through the fascinating world of the Jews.

The Jewish State

by Theodor Herzl

The Jewish State, written by Theodor Herzl, is a groundbreaking book about the Jewish people and their quest for a homeland. This remarkable piece of literature, often referred to as the ‘book on Jews’, delves into the historical, political, and social aspects of the Jewish identity. Herzl, a visionary and passionate advocate for the Jewish cause, presents a compelling argument for the establishment of a Jewish state, a place where Jews can live free from persecution and discrimination.


In conclusion, these 20 books about Jews offer a captivating exploration of Jewish culture, history, and identity. From memoirs that provide personal insights to historical narratives that shed light on important events, these books provide a diverse and enriching reading experience. Whether you are seeking a deeper understanding of Jewish traditions or simply enjoy thought-provoking literature, these books are sure to leave a lasting impression. So, grab a cup of tea, cozy up with one of these captivating reads, and embark on a journey through the fascinating world of Jewish literature.