Literatour is a community-wide celebration in its fourth year with 8 exceptional events featuring authors, celebrities, and cultural influencers throughout Berks County from October 2022 to May 2023.

 

Literatour is being presented by Jewish Federation of Reading in partnership with Exeter Community Library.

11/29/2022

11:00 AM

Jewish Cultural Center

Rebecca Soffer

“The Mod­ern Loss Hand­book: An Inter­ac­tive Guide to Mov­ing Through Grief and Build­ing Your Resilience”

 

Stay con­nect­ed to your per­son, your­self, and the world around you in the after­math of loss.

Mod­ern Loss is all about erad­i­cat­ing the stig­ma and awk­ward­ness around grief while also focus­ing on our capac­i­ty for resilience and find­ing mean­ing. In this inter­ac­tive guide, Mod­ern Loss co-founder Rebec­ca Sof­fer offers can­did, prac­ti­cal, and wit­ty advice for con­fronting a future with­out your per­son, hon­or­ing their mem­o­ry, deal­ing with trig­ger days, man­ag­ing your pro­fes­sion­al life, and nav­i­gat­ing new and exist­ing rela­tion­ships. You’ll find no worn out plat­i­tudes or emp­ty assur­ances here. With prompts, cre­ative projects, inno­v­a­tive rit­u­als, ther­a­peu­tic-based exer­cis­es, and more, this is the place to explore the messy, long arc of loss on your own time­line — and with­out judgment.

1/17/2023

12:00 PM

Jewish Cultural Center

Matthew Daub

“Leav­ing East­ern Parkway”

 

Brooklyn’s Hasidic community of Lubavitchers is turned upside down when family tragedy strikes and everyday life changes forever in the life of Zev Altshul. He is first placed into the care of the closed and close-knit community where he grew up, but soon realizes he can’t stay. His saving grace is handball; it’s his gift from God, and the one thing he can rely on as he is shuttled, chased, and abandoned by trusted elders, family, and friends. Even as Zev never fully escapes from the guilt of his choices, he sets course across the United States to discover where loyalty really lies and what it means. He seeks out his long-lost sister, only to find himself as unprepared for life outside the Lubavitcher community as he was unwilling to remain. Forced out of his second home, Zev plays handball to support himself in the goyische world, but obligations he doesn’t fully understand still tie him to Crown Heights and follow him to Chicago and New Mexico threatening always to return Zev to life among the Lubavitchers. Lyrical, vivid, and thoroughly engaging, this is certainly among the first novels of its kind.

Daub lives and works in Berks County. 

2/21/2023

12:00 PM

Jewish Cultural Center

Andrew Lawler

“Under Jerusalem: The Buried His­to­ry of the World’s Most Con­test­ed City”

 

In 1863, a French senator arrived in Jerusalem hoping to unearth relics dating to biblical times. Digging deep underground, he discovered an ancient grave that, he claimed, belonged to an Old Testament queen. News of his find ricocheted around the world, evoking awe and envy alike, and inspiring others to explore Jerusalem’s storied past.

 

In the century and a half since the Frenchman broke ground, Jerusalem has drawn a global cast of fortune seekers and missionaries, archaeologists and zealots, all of them eager to extract the biblical past from beneath the city’s streets and shrines. Their efforts have had profound effects, not only on our understanding of Jerusalem’s history, but on its hotly disputed present.  The quest to retrieve ancient Jewish heritage has sparked bloody riots and thwarted international peace agreements.  It has served as a cudgel, a way to stake a claim to the most contested city on the planet.  Today, the earth below Jerusalem remains a battleground in the struggle to control the city above.

 

Under Jerusalem takes readers into the tombs, tunnels, and trenches of the Holy City. It brings to life the indelible characters who have investigated this subterranean landscape. With clarity and verve, acclaimed journalist Andrew Lawler reveals how their pursuit has not only defined the conflict over modern Jerusalem, but could provide a map for two peoples and three faiths to peacefully coexist.

3/1/2023

6:00 PM

Exeter Community Library

Steven Hartov

“The Last of the Seven”

 

A spell­bind­ing nov­el of World War II based on the lit­tle-known his­to­ry of the X Troop —a team of Euro­pean Jews who escaped the Con­ti­nent only to join the British Army and return home to exact their revenge on Hitler’s mil­i­tary. A lone sol­dier wear­ing a Ger­man uni­form stum­bles into a British mil­i­tary camp in the North African desert with an incred­i­ble sto­ry to tell. He is the only sur­vivor of an under­cov­er oper­a­tion meant to infil­trate a Nazi base, trad­ing on the sol­diers’ per­fect flu­en­cy in Ger­man. For this man is not British born but instead a Ger­man Jew seek­ing revenge for the deaths of his fam­i­ly back home in Berlin. As the Allies advance into Europe, the young lieu­tenant is brought to recov­er in Sici­ly, where he’s recruit­ed by a British major to join the new­ly formed X Troop, a com­man­do unit com­posed of Ger­man and Aus­tri­an Jews that’s train­ing for a top secret mis­sion at a near­by camp in the Sicil­ian hills. They are all ​“lost boys,” dri­ven not by patri­o­tism but by vengeance. Draw­ing on metic­u­lous research into this unique group of sol­diers, The Last of the Sev­en is a lyri­cal, propul­sive his­tor­i­cal nov­el per­fect for read­ers of Mark Sul­li­van, Robert Har­ris and Alan Furst.

3/29/2023

7:00 PM

Albright College

David de Jong

“Nazi Bil­lion­aires: The Dark His­to­ry of Germany’s Wealth­i­est Dynasties”

 

Suc­ces­sion meets the Third Reich in Nazi Bil­lion­aires. In this land­mark work of inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism, David de Jong reveals the true sto­ry of how Germany’s wealth­i­est busi­ness dynas­ties amassed untold mon­ey and pow­er by abet­ting the atroc­i­ties of the Third Reich – and how Amer­i­ca allowed them to get away with it. The heirs of the Nazi bil­lion­aires have only grown wealth­i­er in the gen­er­a­tions since, while their reck­on­ing with this dark past remains incom­plete at best. Many of them con­tin­ue to con­trol swaths of the world econ­o­my, own­ing icon­ic brands whose prod­ucts blan­ket the globe. The bru­tal lega­cy of the dynas­ties that dom­i­nat­ed Daim­ler-Benz, co-found­ed Allianz, and still con­trol Porsche, Volk­swa­gen, and BMW has remained hid­den in plain sight — until now. Nazi Bil­lion­aires shows how Ger­man tycoons seized Jew­ish busi­ness­es, pro­cured slave labor­ers, and ramped up weapons pro­duc­tion to equip Hitler’s army as Europe burned around them. De Jong also expos­es how America’s polit­i­cal expe­di­en­cy enabled these bil­lion­aires to get away with their crimes, cov­er­ing up a blood­stain that deles the Ger­man and glob­al economies to this day.

4/18/2023

12:00 PM

Jewish Cultural Center

Jean Hoff­mann Lewanda

“Wit­ness to His­to­ry-From Vien­na to Shang­hai: A Mem­oir of Escape, Sur­vival and Resilience”

 

This is a mem­oir of an 18-year-old Aus­tri­an Jew who escaped to Shang­hai, Chi­na by him­self in 1938. Upon arriv­ing in Chi­na, not only does Paul sup­port him­self, but also helps his par­ents, sis­ter, aunt and uncle leave Europe and sur­vive World War II in Shang­hai. Paul relates how the Sephardic Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty came to the aid of the Jews flee­ing Cen­tral Europe. He pro­vides a detailed descrip­tion of the two years that the fam­i­ly was con­fined to the Hongkew Ghet­to. While many in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty elect­ed to leave Chi­na as soon as pos­si­ble after WWII, Paul and his young wife, Shirley, elect­ed to stay on after the Com­mu­nist takeover. This deci­sion led to a sequence of events that rivaled the per­ils of the war years.

5/3/2023

6:00 PM

Exeter Community Library

Weina Dai Randel

“The Last Rose of Shanghai”

 

In Japan­ese-occu­pied Shang­hai, two peo­ple from dif­fer­ent cul­tures are drawn togeth­er by fate and the free­dom of music…

 

1940. Aiyi Shao is a young heiress and the own­er of a for­mer­ly pop­u­lar and glam­orous Shang­hai night­club. Ernest Reis­mann is a pen­ni­less Jew­ish refugee dri­ven out of Ger­many, an out­sider search­ing for shel­ter in a city wary of strangers. He los­es near­ly all hope until he cross­es paths with Aiyi. When she hires Ernest to play piano at her club, her defi­ance of cus­tom caus­es a sen­sa­tion. His instant fame makes Aiyi’s club once again the hottest spot in Shang­hai. Soon they real­ize they share more than a pas­sion for jazz―but their dif­fer­ences seem insur­mount­able, and Aiyi is engaged to anoth­er man.

 

As the war esca­lates, Aiyi and Ernest find them­selves torn apart, and their choic­es between love and sur­vival grow more des­per­ate. In the face of over­whelm­ing odds, a chain of events is set in motion that will change both their lives forever.

 

From the elec­tri­fy­ing jazz clubs to the impov­er­ished streets of a city under siege, The Last Rose of Shang­hai is a time­less, sweep­ing sto­ry of love and redemption.

10/26/2022

6:00 PM

Exeter Community Library

Alyson Richman & Shaunna Edwards

“The Thread Col­lec­tors: A Novel”

 

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound to a man who would kill her if he knew of her clandestine activities, Stella has to hide not only her efforts but her love for William, a Black soldier and a brilliant musician.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a Jewish woman stitches a quilt for her husband, who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. Between abolitionist meetings, Lily rolls bandages and crafts quilts with her sewing circle for other soldiers, too, hoping for their safe return home. But when months go by without word from her husband, Lily resolves to make the perilous journey South to search for him.

As these two women risk everything for love and freedom during the brutal Civil War, their paths converge in New Orleans, where an unexpected encounter leads them to discover that even the most delicate threads have the capacity to save us. Loosely inspired by the authors' family histories, this stunning novel will stay with readers for a long time.

Exeter Community Library

4565 Prestwick Dr. Reading, PA 19606

 

Jewish Cultural Center

1100 Berkshire Blvd. Suite 125

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

 

Become a Patron

For program inquires contact Literatour Berks Coordinator Amanda Hornberger at AmandaH@jfreading.org .

 

For sponsorship inquiries contact Director of Development, Laurie Waxler at 610-921-0624 or email LaurieW@jfreading.org