Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde (a January Best of the Month pick) is the funny-and-smart memoir by journalist Rebecca Dana, who came to New York from Pittsburgh (and, well, yes, via Yale) to make her name as a writer in the city fabled for writers. Here’s how she explains herself...• What's the elevator pitch for your book?
It’s a funny book about a very odd year in my life, when I was living in the middle of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, as the roommate of a bass-playing, jujitsu-practicing Russian rabbi while working as a fashion writer. "Sex and the City" meets the "Odd Couple" meets "A Stranger Among Us," I guess you would say. But all true.
• What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?
Tenth of December, by George Saunders. Going Clear, by Lawrence Wright. And A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel.
• Top 3-5 favorite books of all time?
Heartburn, by Nora Ephron. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy. The New Journalism, by Tom Wolfe. Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers.
• Important book you never read?
The Old Testament. Lord did I try, but never made it all the way through.
• Book that changed your life?
The White Album, by Joan Didion. I got my first copy from a former boss, who had a tattoo of a dancing lady on his arm and who once insisted I hold his gun. (His actual firearm, I mean. Not, like, “his gun.”)
• What's your most memorable author moment?
Recording my audiobook. It was torture. After years of working on this thing, you finally sign off on the final draft, after which you absolutely cannot make any more changes. And then they put you in a cold, dry, soundproof room and make you read the entire book out loud, alone, so you see every little detail you wish you could tweak but no longer can. I mean, it was really fun. But also, excruciating.
• What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?