Local bookworms may want to set their sights on A Novel Exchange, a lively outing on Sunday that will take place at and benefit the Congregation Or VeShalom Sisterhood, which supports the synagogue on North Druid Hills Road.
After schmoozing with fellow readers, author Joseph Skibell will discuss and sign copies of his latest novel, A Curable Romantic. Attendees are asked to bring a book (new or gently used). In exchange, they’ll leave with a book someone else has enjoyed and brought along with a list of books that event participants have recommended.
The event, which also promises refreshments, is the brainchild and community service project of Dale Israel, who lives in Alpharetta but is also a member of the Or VeShalom Sisterhood.
Israel started these book-and-author programs in 2008 “because I’m a real reader who is always on a journey to find her next best book. I’m not one to be in a book club. I’m not so interested in discussing just any random book that’s assigned. My thing is just wanting to talk about great books and know what books readers like me are discovering and loving.”
Israel has taken her events further by moving them from one community to another and choosing a different charity to support each time. In previous years, A Novel Exchange has raised money for Prevent Child Abuse Georgia; Camp Twitch and Shout for children with Tourette syndrome in Winder; and the Sandy Springs-Dunwoody Community Action Center that works to prevent hunger and homelessness.
Israel, an oncology nurse at Northside Hospital, has raised as much as $2,000 at one of her events, “but my dream is for this concept to spread into more communities and keep growing so we can raise even more money for more worthy causes.”
With Skibell, an English professor at Emory University, Israel wanted to bring his new title to the attention of more readers. She had also previously heard Skibell speak: “He’s Jewish, he’s charming and entertaining, and he’s such a creative writer,” she says. “In this book he brings Freud to life in a way that really captures a reader’s attention.”
Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine recently called “A Curable Romantic” an “irresistible romp about a lovelorn 19th-century doctor who falls in with Sigmund Freud — and some dangerously attractive women.”
Skibell’s previous novels are A Blessing on the Moon (called “brilliant” and “astonishing” by The Boston Globe) and The English Disease (which Newsday hailed as a "ferocious black comedy” with “great bursts of energy, wit and humor.")
“To have an author of this caliber is very exciting for us,” says Clare Habif, current president of the OVS Sisterhood. “I never asked Dale to do this for us. It’s just wonderful.”
Among the sisterhood’s endeavors last year: purchasing new library furniture for the synagogue, which has about 500 member families. The sisterhood recently raised $13,000 for upgrades to the OVS kitchen. With about 35 members ages 18 to 90, the sisterhood is also at the helm of an ongoing (and yummy) money-making enterprise: the making and baking every Tuesday of another 100 dozen burekas, traditional Greek-Mediterranean puff pastry pockets filled with such things as spinach, eggplant, potatoes or seasoned beef.
A Novel Exhange benefit features Joseph Skibell, author of “A Curable Romantic,” 2:30-5pm Sunday, Congregation Or VeShalom, 1681 North Druid Hills Road NE. Tickets: $35; mention you saw this article on North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch to get $5 off. Books to be sold by A Capella Books. For more information: 770-823-6257. www.josephskibell.com