The LitReactor Hanukkah Gift Guide: 8 Crazy Books for 8 Crazy Nights

Menora Image via BookBubBlog

Okay, maybe some of these selections aren't that crazy (I didn't include Ass Goblins of Auschwitz, after all), but you don't want to send your Rabbi running for the hills. Instead I chose a little something for readers of every age, with tones ranging from silly to somber. Happy Hanukkah!

'Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins' by by Eric A. Kimmel,‎ Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)

I must admit I haven't read this, but I think I need to. It also seems like the perfect Hanukkah gift for your little brother, sister, or cousin. Hell, I need to own it just for the cover alone. Forget my cousins, this will be my Hanukkah gift to myself, because I need to know what the heck is going with these Goblins. 


'And We’re Off' by Dana Schwartz

I reviewed this title earlier in the year and I can’t give it enough love. It was one my favorite YA books and is a slam dunk Hanukkah gift for teen and young adult readers. Dana Schwartz has made a name for herself making fun of pretentious litboys on Twitter with her hilarious handle, Guy in Your MFA, but she gets into the mind and motivations of teenage girls in in this heartwarming coming of age tale. Most importantly, the humor she display on twitter is there in the pages as well.

LitReactor Review


'The Blooms of Darkness' by Aharon Appelfeld

I’ve read most of Applefied’s catalogue and he is my favorite author who writes about the horrors of the Holocaust. His minimalist style and empathy for his characters creates a unique and moving experience in each book. This is Applefield’s best work, using a limited setting and the journey of a little boy caught in a nightmarish scenario to show the horrors of Nazi occupation. I know Hanukkah is supposed to be a celebration, but we must never forget.


'The Anarchist Kosher Cookbook' by Maxwell Bauman 

I must admit I am the editor and publisher of this book, and yeah, it’s kind of schmuck thing for me to include a book I’ve published, but this book is the perfect Hanukkah gift book! Seriously, from the satanic Bat Mitzvah to a recipe on how to make your own Nazi fighting Gollum, this collection is hilarious, bizarre and irreverent. So be a true mensch and buy this book.


'Love Bomb' by Lisa Zeidner

This is the time of year when families talk about upcoming weddings. In Love Bomb, a nice home wedding is taken hostage by a woman dressed as the bridesmaid from hell. I read this book over five years ago, while I was working on a hostage situation novel. It was a dark literary novel, and Love Bomb made me insecure because it was so much fun while still dealing with deep literary themes. This book is a satisfying page-turner that will make a great gift for adults.


'Ain’t Got Time to Bleed: Medical Reports on Hollywood’s Greatest Action Heroes' by Andrew Shaffer 

The always funny Andrew Shaffer is the king of gift books. His How To Survive a Sharknado is my favorite, but this one is pretty great too. It is the perfect book for teenagers and young adults in college and could even inspire them to become doctors. Every Jewish mother's dream!


'The Seven Good Year’s: A Memoir' by Edgar Keret 

Edgar Keret isn’t just my favorite Jewish writer today. He’s one of my favorite writers of all time. In Seven Good Year’s we learn who he really is, and about the life that has inspired some of the best short fiction of this century. We experience life and death with an author who is a master of working with these themes in his fiction. It’s a wonderful and thoughtful gift for all lovers of great literature.

What books will you be gifting this Hanukkah?

Christoph Paul

Column by Christoph Paul

Christoph Paul is the Managing Editor and owner of CLASH Books, who have published over 60 books and have been covered by NPR, Poets & Writers, Rolling Stone, Believer Magazine, Oprah Magazine, The Observer, Fangoria, and Publisher's Weekly. The press has had books translated into Spanish, French, and Italian. He has been editing books in almost every genre for over a decade. As an author, he won a humor award and had viral cult success under a pen name. He is the lead singer and bass player of the rock band The Dionysus Effect, who have received positive reviews in Loudwire, EARMILK, and Red Rock Magazine. He sometimes writes songs about the books he publishes because even artists are inspired by their day jobs. Follow him on Twitter @christophpaul_ @clashbooks @dionysuseffect.

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hipokrit's picture
hipokrit from Austin, Tx December 9, 2017 - 2:16pm

I own 'Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins', and it's your standard using tricks to outsmart the evil forces that are keeping you down. Much in line with 'The Rabbi and the 29 Witches'. It's a fun book, but not actually that bizarre.

Now, the other book that I own that is probably a bit more "insane" than "crazy" is 'The Return of the Golem: A Chanukah Story' ( This book has it all: aliens, a golem saving the day, a golem going beserk, lessons on how the above things somehow help teach the lesson of chanukah (or something). Coupled with the art, it feels a bit like something from an old issue of Heavy Metal or something.

spencertully's picture
spencertully December 13, 2017 - 7:07am

Great stuff list! Now i know what to read. 'Ain’t Got Time to Bleed already complement my collection. I'm writer at thank for this list! it helps me to improve my writing skills.