Review: Letters to Talia by Dov Indig

I was captivated when I read the back cover of Letters to Talia, since the concept of having an irreligious Jewish kibbutz girl writing corresponding letters to a soldier/ Yeshiva student about Judaism and learning more about her faith sounded almost too good to be true. But the book lived up to even the highest of standards I had set for it in my head. It’s an everlasting read that had me bouncing from one emotion to the next.

Dov Indig was killed on October 7, 1973, in a holding action on the Golan Heights in Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Letters to Talia, published in his memory by family and friends, contains excerpts from an extensive correspondence Dov maintained with Talia, a girl from an irreligious kibbutz in northern Israel , in 1972 and 73, the last two years of his life. At the time, Talia was a high-school student, and Dov was a student in the Hesder Yeshiva Kerem B Yavneh, which combines Torah study with military service.

Coming into this right after having had to tolerate the non-stop infidelities in This Is How You Lose Her was like a breath of fresh air. Not only does Dov Indig, an only child of Holocaust survivors, have practically the perfect answer on literally everything regarding God, Jews and our identity, people, and homeland. We’re left with lots of food for thought, and it was a real challenge trying not to write the whole book down into my notes so I wouldn’t forget even the tiniest thing uttered by him. There was this genuine fear inside me that I would forget a convincing argument of his, and it stemmed out of how utterly convincing his points were in their nature. Dov Indig kept on surprising me with his knowledge page by page. A real wunderkind. It is these kind of quiet stories that tell the moving account of someone’s words and actions that affect me the most.

I mean, there were times when Talia presented a case seemingly unfit to contradict (such as, the recruitment of Yeshiva students into the IDF, and civil marriage in Israel), but he always pulled through with pages and pages of wise words on the relevant topics and sources to support his statements. And not only that, but his responses came across as really balanced and well-thought-out. You could feel his calm and welcoming nature reverberate off the page when it came to answering questions about Judaism.

Usually, I would insert some quotes of his here to prove my statement, but since I read the Hebrew edition that option isn’t relevant at the time. But just know that there’s no denying the colossal wisdom and faithfulness behind Dov’s words. Knowing the end of his story, however, made every moment of his utterly melancholy and bittersweet. I’m thinking mainly about those parts when he got hopeful about what his future would entail as a believer. It’s impossible not to feel the weight of the words (and the world) in those pages.

Since this conversation is made up by two parts, I have to mention that I was displeased from the get-go with the way Talia handled the conversation. My annoyance stems from the fact that her personality relies heavily on not knowing really… anything. Talia tends to go for deep questions without inquiring first if what she’s asking is fact or something she heard from ear to ear, which leads to a lot of naïve and shortsighted comments on her side. Over the course of Letters to Talia it began to feel like one of those plot devices, where one side asks foolish questions just so that the hero can appear more educated. So it became difficult to enjoy the conversations circling Dov and Talia because I was dreading for her point of view to appear. I mean it’s pretty difficult to enjoy an educated conversation when one person isn’t adding anything remarkable to the table other than white noise.

The funny thing is that I then read this article that interviews Talia nowadays, and she seems to agree on her naïvety back in the day. So there was a tiny source of comfort knowing that she would somehow grow into her character over the years.

But luckily, Dov’s writing, that showcased just how well-read and enlightened he was, made up for the negatives of the other side. It was a true privilege to bask in the wisdom of his words through the letters shared in this book.

As a last side note, I do wish we would’ve gotten to see some pictures of the letters they sent one another just because I’m curious as to how his writing style looked like on paper. But overall Letters to Talia is a highly recommended story that I’m utterly grateful to have read.

5/5 stars

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Review: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an acceptable woman.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is divided into ten chapters, each examining unruly female celebrities “who occupy all different corners of the mainstream, from the literary world to Hollywood, from HBO to the tennis court. It includes several women of color, but the prevalence of straight white women serves to highlight an ugly truth: that the difference between cute, acceptable unruliness and unruliness that results in ire is often as simple as the color of a woman’s skin, whom she prefers to sleep with, and her proximity to traditional femininity.”

As you can read in the above quote, The author’s self-awareness was the first thing I noticed and immediately cherished in her writing. There’s no topic Petersen shied away from and this passion of radical honesty and transparency settled into my core. I took a lot away from it.

Though it took me a minute to settle into the frame of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, the essay that secured my interest most was on Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. It won me over in a beat with this single line: “In their world, men are as secondary as female friends are in the traditional rom-com. ”

This is what happy feels like. Oh, and this:

“Both Abbi and Ilana are deeply weird, but within the vividly rendered world of Broad City, their actions make some sort of sense, always in relation to each other. Of course Abbi would pose as Ilana for a six-hour shift at the co-op, or Ilana would devote an entire day to caring for Abbi after oral surgery—they’re each other’s first and foremost. Which is why there are no “bottle episodes” that focus uniquely on one character or the other: not because they’re not individuals, but because they’re always in each other’s orbit.”

Unlike my first impression regarding this book, it came to provide varying perspectives and radically de-center the story from the celebrity; rather focus on the messages and ideas they represent: Serena Williams (too strong), Kim Kardashian West (too pregnant), Hillary Clinton (too shrill), Jennifer Weiner (Too loud), Melissa McCarthy (too fat), and more.

“My hope is that this book unites the enthralling, infuriating, and exhilarating conversations that swirl around these women, but also incites new and more expansive ones. ”

I most certainly enjoyed reading and learning more about these unruly women and the notions they stood for. Feminist works like Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud are something I’ll never tire of seeing either on screen or on paper.

Plus, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a go if you enjoy looking up reviews of celebrities, TV shows, and books… Because this is a comprehensive, yet in-depth pool of knowledge of history, celebrity culture, double standards, LGBTQIA+ representation, feminism and challenging the norms of femininity. And there are of course a myriad other small things scattered throughout to keep you entertained from start to finish. I would say that the only thing I wasn’t too happy about was the fact that Lena Dunham was included in this mix. Thankfully, she was the last essay in here, so I just went ahead and skipped that altogether because I simply cannot support her character.

3.5/5 stars

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Review: What’s It Like in Space? by Ariel Waldman

I’ve tried my hand at a few space books before, but they almost all exclusively went over my head the minute they introduced mathematical equations into their works. So with this collection I was hoping for a more down-to-earth (punny) and accessible read. Thankfully, I got just what I was seeking with this one-of-a-kind deal.

Everyone wonders what it’s really like in space, but very few of us have ever had the chance to experience it firsthand. This captivating illustrated collection brings together stories from dozens of international astronauts—men and women who’ve actually been there—who have returned with accounts of the sometimes weird, often funny, and awe-inspiring sensations and realities of being in space.

“Maybe someday this book will be as quaint as books describing what it’s like to fly in an airplane.”

What’s It Like in Space? approaches a broad range of stories, from trying to describe what space smells like, falling asleep midair in the floating environment, seeing auroras from orbit, spacewalks, insects, burping, and sneezing in space (which I’d never even thought about before), and the difficulties of traveling back home and readjusting your body to the norm. The addition of the peculiar and eccentric artwork accompanying each story added immensely to the atmosphere.

Plus, the quiet allure behind each astronaut’s tale – equal parts terrifying and amusing – drove me to ponder and speculate with a childlike wonder. Speaking of which, here are some of my favorite takes on space:What_s It Like in Space? 1-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 2-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 4-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 3-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 6-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 5-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 7-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 9-- bookspoilsWhat_s It Like in Space? 8-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 10-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 11-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 12-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 13-- bookspoils

 

What_s It Like in Space? 14-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 15-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 17-- bookspoils

What_s It Like in Space? 16-- bookspoils


Overall, What’s It Like in Space? was a spectacular joy to experience through words. And now more than ever am I eager for more of the similar.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying What’s It Like in Space?, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!