We’ve compiled a selection of the 14 finest books to help you comprehend Israel’s history, culture, and technology, so you can gain a better sense of the country.
Even in this digital age, it’s lovely to receive a book that can be touched, flipped through, and utilized as a learning tool in your home.
Authors and artists from Israel and the English-speaking world have collaborated on these 14 recent English-language books to provide readers a comprehensive look into Israel’s culinary, cultural, historical, technological, and literary heritage.
Each of these books would make a wonderful present for someone with a wide variety of interests, or you could use it to learn more about one of the world’s most fascinating countries.
Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, by Daniel Gordis
It’s a good idea to read this book before giving it to your friends and family, which is authored by an author and columnist for the Jerusalem Post and Bloomberg View.
As a resident of Jerusalem, Daniel Gordis writes about Israel’s political, social, economic, and cultural successes, posing questions like, “Why does such a little country speak to so many global concerns?” and “Why does Israel make the decisions it does?” from his base of operations in Jerusalem. Reminds us of the good things in life that we need to remember from time to time.
No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel, by Shimon Peres
As the late ninth prime minister, Peres had a front-row seat to everything that happened in Israeli politics, and this inspirational autobiography is filled with all the wisdom he learned over his 70-year tenure. For those who want to learn more about what happened behind the scenes during Israel’s darkest hours and most difficult moral choices, this book is for you.
Israel Rising: Ancient Prophecy/Modern Lens, by Doug Hershey
This coffee table book compares images from the 1880s through the 1940s with current views of Israel to highlight how far the country has come: sand deserts transformed into flourishing metropolises, bountiful agriculture, and a civilization that has risen to become one of the world’s leading technological innovators.
Israel’s modern achievements were created from the ground up by pioneers, as the documentary Israel Rising shows.
A History of Israel: From the Bronze Age through the Jewish Wars, by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Paul D. Wegner
Recommendation: This has been described by reviewers as “a personal library” that goes back in time to explore Israel’s history in detail. Over 600 pictures, maps, and other sources make this encyclopedia of history from a biblical, historical, and archaeological perspective a must-have for your coffee table.
The Story of the Holy Land: A Visual History, by Peter Walker
A professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Pennsylvania, this book covers Israel and its multiple conquests of its country from biblical history to present times using modern images, sketches, and explanations. It’s a must-read for everyone interested in history, and Walker’s captivating manner of factual narrative makes it a must-have.
Israeli Soul, by Michael Solomonov
It is the culmination of Michael Solomonov’s own travels and experiences in Israel and in running his Jewish and Israeli-themed restaurants in the United States that have resulted in this new bible of Israeli gastronomy.
Popsicles like paletta, Israeli-only dishes like mafroum, and Solomonov’s hummus and tahini sauce are among the many delights you’ll discover.
Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
For Israeli-Jewish culinary superstar Yotam Ottolenghi and Israeli-Arab former restaurant partner Sami Tamimi, who grew up on the other side of the city from Ottolenghi and was raised in Jerusalem, Jerusalem is more than a cookbook; it’s a work of cultural analysis and culinary understanding.
Every supporter of Israel’s cause and foodie should have this book on their bookshelf. It includes both Jewish and Arab recipes, city history, and lovely images.
Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World, by Avi Jorisch
An updated guide to the innovative spirit of Israel and its global goodwill that builds on the famous Start-Up Nation (2009) but from a different angle, Thou Shalt Innovate not only covers the most cutting-edge Israeli technologies in medicine, agriculture, water supply, and defense, but it also looks at why Israeli culture is so compatible with the spirit of innovation and how the contributions in each field can continue to grow in the future,
Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World, by Seth M. Siegel
Israelis are world leaders in water treatment and conservation, and they’re well-known for sustaining agricultural and human life with the bare minimum of water.
Israel’s biggest water technological discoveries are explained in Let There Be Water by Siegel, who explains how this knowledge can have a huge impact on the rest of the globe as water shortages and crises become more and more prevalent.
Fast Asleep in a Little Village in Israel, by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod
In Hebrew, what does a rooster sound like? This heartwarming children’s novel, set in an Israeli community, will reveal all.
These watercolor images by Tiphanie Beeke enable you hear the sounds of rural Israel and give your child a glimpse of everyday life here, noisy as it may be.
The Colors of Israel, by Rachel Raz
Your children will learn their colors in this wonderful children’s book, which has bright images of Israeli cities and sites. As a present for Israeli culture and education, this book features everything from Tel Aviv juice stands’ bright orange fruit bundles to the red of an Israeli mail vehicle.
Israel 70 Year Independence Coloring Book, by Rachel Mintz
For the modern Jewish child or teen, buy this or any of Rachel Mintz’s Israel-themed coloring books. On the inside, you’ll find 70 current images of Tel Aviv, Israel’s leaders and Jewish holy sites (including the seashore), all just ready to be colored in with your own personal preferences.
A Year in the Garden (Shana BaGina) Gardening Calendar, by Ilana Stein
An essential for anyone who wants to learn how to grow their own food in accordance with the Israeli seasons, this lovely calendar — written and illustrated by master gardener and illustrator Ilana Stein — is a must-have for aspiring Israeli homesteaders or gardeners. Everything you need to know about each month’s growing season is laid out in this guide: what to plant (and when), how to plant (and when), and amusing facts and extra recipes.
DIY Tel Aviv – Your Alternative City Guide, by Shimrit Elisar
This DIY guide to Tel Aviv’s alternative, non-touristy scene, including all the “hidden” clubs, cafés, clothes boutiques, and more, is one way to gather inside information about the city. It is updated once a year.
If someone in your family is thinking of making the big move to Israel, or even if you’re just brushing up on your knowledge of the modern cultural heart of the Holy Land, this is the book for you.