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A Guide for the Perplexed
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2020 Moderator's Choices > 2020/10 Discussion of Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed--MOD'S CHOICE

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message 1: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed -- for the whole shebang, early impressions and reactions as well as reviews and conclusions.

We have been having two different discussions for each novel, one for early thoughts and another for conclusions, but in the interests of conciseness, let's try just one discussion per book. So, even if you are jumping in with conclusions, please avoid spoilers. Or, if you need one to express your thoughts, use the "spoiler" brackets. See "some html is ok," above the 'comment' box.) 📖


Susan I did not know we were reading this.


message 3: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
I put it in as a moderator's choice b/c I think there may be some overlapping content with The Last Watchman of Old Cairo. Emphasis on the 'I think.'

Have you read it yet, Susan?


Susan Yes, I read it years ago. I loved it. I posted a review. I can’t cut and paste from my iPad, but perhaps I could do so from my laptop, so I could post it here. It’s one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read.


Susan I really have a terrible time following threads on Goodreads. It is counterintuitive.


message 6: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I really have a terrible time following threads on Goodreads. It is counterintuitive."

I doubt I could do it on a tablet. My phone is sometimes unable to access Goodreads links. Hooray for my desktop and for my husband who's willing to help with technical stuff!

Just went to your review, Susan. Good one!

If you can get to this group's "Bookshelf," you can click on "activity" for any particular book & see who in the group has reviewed or added it.


message 8: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
ClaraBelle wrote: "What’s A Guide for the Perplexed about?"

Don't know how I missed your question, ClaraBelle; sorry! To read the publisher's blurb, you could just click on the book link in your above comment, or you could go to my review at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... I don't think it tells too much!

It does share some content with the other one The Last Watchman...," but two different authors and two different stories.


message 9: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Yes, I read it years ago. I loved it. I posted a review. I can’t cut and paste from my iPad, but perhaps I could do so from my laptop, so I could post it here. It’s one of the most remarkable books..."

Apparently I'm confused. Susan. Is The Last Watchman of Old Cairo the one you loved? Or A Guide for the Perplexed?


Melissa | 45 comments I read this a while ago and thought it was good, not great. It is a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph with themes of memory, technology, and sibling rivalry. There are three stories: siblings Josie and Judith in modern times, a story about philosopher Maimonides (who wrote the Guide for the Perplexed) in Cairo in the 12th century looking for a cure for asthma, and Solomon Schechter's discovery of the Cairo genizah in the 19th century. I have read three of Dara Horn's books and I always find myself impressed with what she chooses to write about, but not loving the final product.


Susan Jan, I read A Guide For the Perplexed.


Susan This is my review from when I read it. Well, the link to it.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Stacey B | 1103 comments Mod
Nice review Susan.
I read this book in 2015, and gave it a 3.0 star rating.
As of today, I can not remember many of the nuances throughout the book.
I do remember knowing that most times when choosing the next read, a situation or mood will ultimately effect what I will extrapolate from a book which my rating is based on.
Now almost six years later I recognize many changes in myself that may give me a different perspective of this book and am starting it today.


message 14: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Jan, I read A Guide For the Perplexed."

Thanks, Susan. That's the one I thought you were talking about until I saw I had posed a question in an ambiguous way so that it could have been either one!


message 15: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Melissa wrote: "I read this a while ago and thought it was good, not great. It is a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph with themes of memory, technology, and sibling rivalry. There are three stories: siblin..."

I too read Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed several years ago, Melissa. And I know what you're talking about when you say you come out not loving the final product. For me, it's not so much that as it is there is a little something off or wrong. For this one, I may differ from most people in that the part I didn't so much care for is the thriller aspect set in modern times. I could have done without that! Thought the historical part was better. I loved the parts about Maimonides and especially Schechter.

There is something memorable I learned from it and believe I quoted it in my review, about not letting the past devour the future. That's probably not exactly right, but something like that.

There's always something in a Horn book like that for me, and she has so much to teach. Her scholarship is great, if you've ever seen something else from her besides her fiction. I wonder if she feels she'll reach more people through her fiction. Has she said anything like that?


message 16: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Jan, I read A Guide For the Perplexed."

2nd reply to Susan: Susan, p.s., have you gotten hold of a copy of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo? I didn't see anything on it from you on that discussion thread yet. I'm liking it. And I was right that there's some overlapping content. Would love to compare & contrast, that is, if I can remember enough of Guide!


Susan Jan, I did not get a copy of the other book. My library didn’t have it and I could find no inexpensive options.


message 18: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Jan, I did not get a copy of the other book. My library didn’t have it and I could find no inexpensive options."

I know! AbeBooks isn't giving the free shipping on it and neither is eBay, which runs up the price. I guess it's because it's still in demand. My library does have a copy and is open for curbside pickup now, but they weren't open back when it won. Does your library offer interlibrary loan? I haven't used that for a while, but mine was charging $3 for the shipping or exchange.


Susan Jan,

The only way I use my library is via the online app, Libby, which somehow loans ebooks via Amazon. And, at the moment I have too many books that I am already reading, so I’d like to put a full stop on the conversation about whether I have read, or intend to read in the near future, this particular book.


message 20: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Jan,

The only way I use my library is via the online app, Libby, which somehow loans ebooks via Amazon. And, at the moment I have too many books that I am already reading, so I’d like to put a fu..."


Ha ha, not nagging you, Susan. Just interested! 🙂


Melissa | 45 comments Jan, a lot of Dara Horns books do stay with me and they definitely make me think. However, there's always something missing for me. Maybe it's, as you say, the modern thriller aspect. This book didn't (from what I remember) feel all that "thrilling." I also appreciated the historical parts more. Her stories are obviously well researched, and thought provoking. I always like them, but somehow I never love them.


message 22: by debra (new)

debra  L | 102 comments I feel similar to Melissa. I've read all the Dara Horn books except for her most recent one, (which just sounded toooo out there....) With the exception of her first - which was my favorite I have always come away feeling all worth reading but not hitting my "must read" list. Her subject matter is always so different and interesting! This was no exception. I read it a while ago so not sure of all the details but remember the interweaving of stories and the history involved. Her books always stimulate good discussion at our book club meetings!


message 23: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
debra wrote: "I feel similar to Melissa. I've read all the Dara Horn books except for her most recent one, (which just sounded toooo out there....) With the exception of her first - which was my favorite I have ..."

I've read three, like Melissa. The only one with the current-day thriller was this one ("Guide"); on each there was some flaw but also excellence. Debra, I have read Eternal Life, and it took me two readings to get beyond the set-up and really see what she's doing. Then it was wonderful.

It just so happens I haven't read the one that is supposed to be her best.


message 24: by Lori (new)

Lori Kaufmann | 36 comments Jan wrote: "This is the discussion thread for Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed -- for the whole shebang, early impressions and reactions as well as reviews and conclusions.

We have been having two diffe..."


Hi Susan, I would like to read your review of Dara Horn's book but couldn't find it. Can you please post a link to it here? I went to your profile page but you read SO MANY books that I couldn't find it! Wow, is there anything you haven't read???


message 25: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Lori wrote: "...Hi Susan, I would like to read your review of Dara Horn's book but couldn't find it. Can you please post a link to it here? I went to your profile page but you read SO MANY books that I couldn't find it! Wow, is the..."

Lori, hi again. I see you're addressing Susan & don't mean to intrude, but am just writing to say that if you will go to your Goodreads settings and permit private messaging, I'm willing to tell you how to search for people's reviews.


Susan I posted the link to my review of Guide For the Perplexed five days ago. Please just scroll up in the comments and you will find it.


Susan https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Here is the link to my review


message 28: by Lori (new)

Lori Kaufmann | 36 comments Lori wrote: "Jan wrote: "This is the discussion thread for Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed -- for the whole shebang, early impressions and reactions as well as reviews and conclusions.

We have been havi..."

thanks Susan, i will do that!


Jonathan | 186 comments I just started this morning and Jan you are right, both books have similar content in that that they share the same historical characters.


message 30: by Lori (new)

Lori Kaufmann | 36 comments Susan wrote: "I posted the link to my review of Guide For the Perplexed five days ago. Please just scroll up in the comments and you will find it."

Very good review Susan. I guess I hadn't noticed all the door imagery until you pointed it out. I agreed with your assessment of the book. I also liked it and thought it was a very imaginative, creative take on the Jewish texts.


message 31: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "I just started this morning and Jan you are right, both books have similar content in that that they share the same historical characters."

I was just wondering last night while reading The Last Watchman that Guide was published 1st, and now, thanks to your comment, I looked it up. Guide came out in 2013.


Jonathan | 186 comments I think if I had do all over again, I would have started with Guide, as on a chronological level it also predates Watchman (1894 vs. 1898) and you are getting a more personal look on Schechter. In Watchman you are getting the sisters view on him.


Stacey B | 1103 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "I think if I had do all over again, I would have started with Guide, as on a chronological level it also predates Watchman (1894 vs. 1898) and you are getting a more personal look on Schechter. In ..."
Great point.


message 34: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Rice | 1775 comments Mod
I did start with Guide, but too much of a head start! so have forgotten details. I'll try and read everybody else' reviews and maybe there's a summary online. I don't own it; either had it from the library or gave it away. Maybe I have (had?) the audio version?

But do think that Dara Horn emphasizes the character and role of Solomon Schechter, while Lukas plays up the two Englishwomen/twins. ...but I'm still 60 or 70 pages away from finishing The Last Watchman.


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