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7 New Memoirs and Tales of Self-Improvement (Perfect for a Poolside Read)

July 4th has come and gone, and people are donning sun hats and SPF 30. But what to do once you arrive poolside? Without a good summer read, a sunning session can be awfully boring. Luckily, a number of light … Read More

By / July 9, 2008

July 4th has come and gone, and people are donning sun hats and SPF 30. But what to do once you arrive poolside? Without a good summer read, a sunning session can be awfully boring. Luckily, a number of light reads have recently arrived at Jewcy headquarters. These uplifting and oftentimes funny memoirs and tales of self-improvement are the perfect accompaniment to a beach towel and flip flops. Here are six reads to keep your mind flying while your skin is frying.

From Schlub to Stud: How to Embrace Your Inner Mensch and Conquer the Big City by Max Gross: A schlubby Jewish writer (and onetime Jewcy contributer) learns not only to own his schlubbiness–but to overcome it. Be prepared to identify with him in ways you are ashamed to admit.

Winning clip: "Last summer, when the movie Knocked Up came out, I (and all the other schlubs I knew) nearly wept for joy…An impoverished, puffy-haired, chunky Jew suddenly seemed like saint and sex god."

Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad by Bob Morris: a middle aged gay man becomes a wingman for his eighty year old widowed father, as the two explore and experience the difficult world of dating together.

Winning clip: "Oh, my God. What am I doing? What is he doing? You hear about helicopter parents who hover over every aspect of the lives of their children. Am I becoming a helicopter son?…What can I say? I'm dying to know what the story is…His reports are so volatile, so unexpected, so hilariously bizarre that they make dating tales of my friends seem banal."

Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe by Lisa Alcalay Klug: A step by step how-to guide to transforming yourself into the ultimate cool Jew, or "Heebster." Includes lots of great graphics.

Winning clip: "Yarmulke, shmarmulke. When it's so jewcy, why only wear it on your head? Sew leather shoelaces on a matching pair to create a sexy string bikini top for your next Jewish singles cruise."

Hyper-Chondriac: One Man's Quest to Hurry Up and Calm Down by Brian Frazer: A man with a whole host of medical ailments discovers that the true source of his problems is stress. Foregoing a permanent reliance on Zoloft, he attempts to calm down via more natural methods, such as Tai Chi and Kabbalah.

Winning clip: "Finally it was time to learn the 'form.' I had to memorize a series of movements that Mr. Chow performed alongside me, nearly all of which I found very confusing. He barked out sequences like 'paint the walls with your fingertips,' 'carry the ball,'…and 'eat the cowboy's hat.' Yeah, I made that last one up. But it was still very confusing."

Moose: a Memoir of Fat Camp by Stephanie Klein: A coming of age story about a girl at fat camp. An honest and funny account of self discovery, linking the trials of adolescence to lifelong emotions.

Winning clip: "While my upbringing didn't make me fat, it played a part in shaping my priorities. And of utmost importance to me was my appearance, not for vanity reasons, but because I wanted to be loved. Poppa thought he was doing me a favor by telling me no man would want me if I was fat. It was his clumsy way of trying to spare me years of frustration in an unjust society."

Hot Mess: Summer in the City by Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester: A rising high school senior decides to give the Sex and the City ladies a run for their money, spending the summer at a hot internship in New York City. Unfortunately, big city life turns out to be less glamorous than she expected.

Winning clip: "You know, if I had seen his dating resume, I would have thought that he was perfect. Good family from New Jersey, wants to be a doctor, loves dogs, not wearing athletic sandals. Generally good in theory, you know? But in person – well, he talked about the summer chem class he was taking in excruciating detail. I thought about forking myself in the eye it was so boring. But then I remembered that I forgot to bring any extra contacts to New York, so I can't really fuck this pair up…Whatever. I have another JDate tonight."

Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion by Danya Ruttenberg: A young woman who swore off religion (and God) as a teenager embarks on a not so conventional journey back into the spiritual fold, and finds a way to reconcile twenty-first century life with traditional Judaism — without doing damage to either.

Winning review: "Danya Ruttenberg marshals beautiful writing and a prodigious intellect, and, leavening it all with a hefty dose of wit, tells a compelling story that has something to teach everyone who picks it up, regardless of how spiritual or religious (or not) they are" – Lisa Jervis.

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