The best books that investigate the trials and tribulations of the generation that came before us

Why am I passionate about this?

Professor Elie Wiesel was instrumental in my translating and researching my mother’s journals. My awakening to the dark period in the chapter of the Jewish history happened between 1971-1974 at CCNY, when our paths crossed while I was taking his classes at the department of Jewish studies. It was in his classes that the things that bewildered me as a child growing up in communist Poland in the shadows of the Holocaust aftermath started to make sense. I asked my mother to commit to paper the painful memories, she buried deep inside her. She and the next generations have an obligation to bear witness, to be this history's keepers.


I wrote...

Memory is Our Home

By Suzanna Eibuszyc,

Book cover of Memory is Our Home

What is my book about?

Memory is Our Home is a thirty-year account that reveals the vibrant life of my family and of Eastern European, twentieth-century Jewish history and culture. The firsthand accounts link together Jewish life during the interwar years, Poland under the Nazi’s murderess grip, and the fate of Jews surviving throughout Russia and Uzbekistan during WWII.

My mother survived against all odds, and in the midst of all the tragedy, she even experienced love. What followed was a shocking repatriation home to Poland, to the “vast graveyard” and Jewish life under a new kind of oppression, communism. Interwoven with my mother’s journals are stories she told me throughout my life and my own recollections from life in the shadows of the Holocaust aftermath into the late 1960s.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Ordinary Men

Suzanna Eibuszyc Why did I love this book?

The famous Hannah Arendt coined “the banality of evil." Not monsters, but ordinary people were able to follow Hitler’s murderess ideology. Ordinary Men clearly shows how men and women from all walks of life were capable of becoming cold-blooded killers. Ordinary Men were the Nazi mobile gas units and death squads responsible for the murder of 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Poland & Ukraine.   

By Christopher R. Browning,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Ordinary Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews.


Book cover of No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel

Suzanna Eibuszyc Why did I love this book?

When determination, vision, and the necessity to survive forced a small country, Israel, perform miracles. No matter the difficulties and challenges, from draining the swamps and turning the desert green, the vision for a better tomorrow, to be free and self-determined people made this country and her citizens rise above fear and embrace hope.     

By Shimon Peres,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Room for Small Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1934, eleven-year-old Shimon Peres emigrated to the land of Israel from his native Poland, leaving behind an extended family who would later be murdered in the Holocaust. Few back then would have predicted that this young man would eventually become one of the towering figures of the twentieth century. Peres would indeed go on to serve the new state as prime minister, president, foreign minister, and the head of several other ministries. He was central to the establishment of the Israeli Defense Forces and the defense industry that would provide the young state with a robust deterrent power. He…


Book cover of The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz

Suzanna Eibuszyc Why did I love this book?

Remembering the heroes, Witold Pilecki got himself arrested. After two and half years as a prisoner in Auschwitz, he escaped. He witnessed the brutality, the mass gassing of Europe’s Jews, thousands each day. He was among the first to set off the alarms that Auschwitz was the epicenter of the Nazis' plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews.        

By Jack Fairweather,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Volunteer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

COSTA BOOK AWARD WINNER: BOOK OF THE YEAR • #1 SUNDAY TIMES (UK) BESTSELLER

“Superbly written and breathtakingly researched, The Volunteer smuggles us into Auschwitz and shows us—as if watching a movie—the story of a Polish agent who infiltrated the infamous camp, organized a rebellion, and then snuck back out. ... Fairweather has dug up a story of incalculable value and delivered it to us in the most compelling prose I have read in a long time.” —Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm and Tribe

The incredible true story of a Polish resistance fighter’s infiltration of Auschwitz to sabotage…


Book cover of Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962

Suzanna Eibuszyc Why did I love this book?

This book is an excellent account of the disaster that the communist regime brought on its people. I grew up under communism and, together with my family, experienced a parallel disaster. Government controlled media, stores that were always empty, rationed medicine, and the daily trading for food on the illegal black market. The Communist Party Leaders had access to everything, and the people had nothing.

I see very clearly how life is so much different from the way I grew up and how my daughters were able to grow up in America. I feel very fortunate to have been able to come to this country after waiting in line for five years.    

By Frank Dikötter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mao's Great Famine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking history of China's Great Famine: winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize 2011 'A gripping and masterful portrait of the brutal court of Mao, based on new research but also written with great narrative verve' Simon Sebag Montefiore 'Harrowing and brilliant' Ben Macintyre 'A critical contribution to Chinese history' Wall Street Journal Between 1958 and 1962, 45 million Chinese people were worked, starved or beaten to death. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up with and overtake the West in less than fifteen years. It led to…


Book cover of The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

Suzanna Eibuszyc Why did I love this book?

I came to America as a young teenager, and my interest in learning America’s history stayed with me till today. David McCullough is an amazing storyteller; using firsthand accounts, letters, and diaries, his books become powerful.

After a hazardous journey, Americans, politicians, architects, artists, doctors, and writers, traveled to the city of lights, Paris. They learn a new culture, achieve success, and return home to greatly alter American history. This, in a sense, is my story as well. I have always had that strong attitude of being grateful, of being able to exist in a free world.

By David McCullough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Greater Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Greater Journey focuses on the period between 1830 and 1900, when hundreds of Americans--many of them future household names like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, John Singer Sargent and Harriet Beecher Stowe--migrated to Paris. McCullough shows first how the City of Light affected each of them in turn, and how they later moved back to America to help shape American art, medicine, writing, science, and politics in profound ways.The Greater Journey is filled with wonderful descriptions of the old Paris before it was re-made by Haussmann's grand boulevards, and of the city's great places, especially the Louvre,…


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Tiny Tales: A Year of Daily Prompted Stories

By Beth C. Greenberg,

Book cover of Tiny Tales: A Year of Daily Prompted Stories

Beth C. Greenberg Author Of First Quiver

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Perpetual Student Encourager Frustrated Golfer Puzzler

Beth's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Tiny Tales is a collection of 365 bite-sized stories and poems, written each day of 2023 to a one-word prompt created by one of the official #vss365 (very short story, 365 days a year) ambassadors on Twitter ("X").

Tweet-sized (280 characters or fewer) storytelling (aka "Twitterature") inspires experimentation and variety, and that is exactly what you'll find in this collection of compositions ranging from true stories to playful limericks, romantic fiction to war-inspired tales, wistful observations from a long-ago childhood to fantastical imaginings of a distant future.

Whether you want to read a story a day or use the prompts (included in their original order at the end of the book) as a springboard to jumpstart your own writing, Tiny Tales will keep you entertained and inspired throughout the year. It is a perfect gift to yourself or for any aspiring or avid writer in your life.

Tiny Tales: A Year of Daily Prompted Stories

By Beth C. Greenberg,

What is this book about?

Tiny Tales is a collection of 365 bite-sized stories and poems, written each day of 2023 to a one-word prompt created by one of the official #vss365 (very short story, 365 days a year) ambassadors on Twitter ("X"). Tweet-sized (280 characters or fewer) storytelling (aka "Twitterature") inspires experimentation and variety, and that is exactly what you'll find in this collection of compositions ranging from true stories to playful limericks, romantic fiction to war-inspired tales, wistful observations from a long-ago childhood to fantastical imaginings of a distant future.

Whether you want to read a story a day or use the prompts…


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