What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include a new “Tuesdays With Morrie”-type book about Elie Wiesel’s years teaching at Boston University, and the latest Jack Reacher thriller from Lee Child.
“Witness: Lessons From Elie Wiesel’s Classroom” by Ariel Burger; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 259 pp.; nonfiction
Elie Wiesel is best known as a Holocaust survivor and a writer whose works, such as “Night,” called attention to the importance of remembrance and the need to prevent further inhumanity.
But while the Nobel Peace Prize winner – who died in 2016 at age 87 – taught millions of people around the globe lessons of faith and activism, many forget he was a professional educator, too.
For decades, he taught at Boston University, where his courses were among the most popular on campus.
A new book chronicles those lectures and classroom interactions. “Witness: Lessons From Elie Wiesel’s Classroom” is by Ariel Burger, who met the master writer when he was 15, studied under him in his 20s and served as his teaching assistant in his 30s.
Burger transports the reader to those salons of learning on the Charles River, where Wiesel’s students over the years ranged from the granddaughter of a Nazi SS officer to a Korean minister in training.
USA TODAY says ★★★½ out of four. “Has a ‘Wednesdays-with-Wiesel’ feel… Burger shares an album’s worth of snapshots from Wiesel’s time at BU.”
“Past Tense” by Lee Child; Delacorte, 382 pp.; fiction
Child’s loner-hero, Jack Reacher, by chance sees a road sign for the New Hampshire town his father came from. He immediately senses something off in Laconia, first in a strange hotel he passes, then in the lack of records about his family.
USA TODAY says ★★★½. “The concision, procedural chops and terse, surprising action of ‘Past Tense’ make it a fantastic read.”
“Night of Camp David” by Fletcher Knebel; Vintage, 336 pp.; fiction
Vintage has reissued this 1965 novel about a paranoid president, which has gained new attention from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others because of eerie parallels with today’s political debate.
USA TODAY says ★★★½. “Strikes chords that seem remarkably current.”
“Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey” by A.J. Jacobs; Simon & Schuster/TED; 160 pp.; nonfiction
Jacobs attempts to thank (literally) every single person with a role in the making and delivery of his morning coffee.
USA TODAY says ★★★. “Uplifting … full of self-deprecating humor.”
“The Fifth Risk” by Michael Lewis; Norton, 219 pp.; nonfiction
Lewis (“Liar’s Poker,” “Moneyball”) investigates the Trump administration’s ideological shakeup of the nation’s capital and analyzes the serious threats to Americans’ safety happening now from inside the U.S. government.
USA TODAY says ★★★★. “Spellbinding, alarming … (Lewis’) entertaining storytelling can make any subject captivating.”
Contributing reviewers: Zlati Meyer, Charles Finch, Susan Page, James Endrst, Don Oldenburg
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