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The Book of Lights [Paperback]

Chaim Potok
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Aug 1983
With Gershon, a young student, and his friend Arthur, son of a famous nuclear physicist, this novel takes the reader from New York, to the Korean War, to Hiroshima and Jerusalem.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (25 Aug 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014006480X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140064803
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,220,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! 2 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Chaim Potok is an outstanding Jewish author, having produced so many works of excellence; 'The Book of Lights' included. Moving and gripping, this novel follows the lives of Gershon (a young rabbinical student) and Arthur (the son of a famous nuclear physicist)as they struggle to find themselves. An immensely readable book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dull but informative 6 Feb 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's 30 years since I last read a Chaim Potok novel. At that time they chimed with my soul; helped, even. But I never read this one till now. If you are young maybe avoid this one for now.

I read this through because although it totally failed to hit the "what's it all about?" spot Chaim Potok's novels used to for me, it was interesting in its telling of history and place and cultures. In those respects I trust it as a first person account, another small piece of the vast jigsaw that is understanding. But it was pretty slow, and the lengthy visions parts are shallow guff, best skimmed imo.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potok's brilliant evocation of darkness and light 2 Feb 2001
By A. Hogan - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Chaim Potok is one terrific storyteller. He tells big stories,of peoples,microcosemed in the stories of familes,mostly boys and men{though in Davita's harp, he steps outside,with interesting results}Th Book of lights is essentially the story of two friends, Gershon and Arthur.Gershon,alone attempts to understand the darkness swallowing the earth by studying kabbalah, the book of Jewish Mysticism. His friend is haunted by dreams of light, the brightest light men have yet discovered. Gershon becomes a chaplain in Korea,and contineus his journey. Arthur is haunted by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and especially Nagasaki.The title of the book is of course bouble edged, the book of lights and the balst of atomic weapons. There is little sermonising here. mr. Potok, as aleways, has kept to his storytelling genius. The debates among the rabbis at the Jewish Theological Seminary about the role of Kabbalh are very inereesting, and Loran's mystical encounter on a Brooklyn rooftop are moments of sheer poetry. This is a big book, rich, filled with ideas. In many ways, it is Mr Potoks most ambitious work of fiction. And very, very rewarding.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, captivating story 27 May 2001
By AmyThink - Published on
Dr. Potok's books are all beautiful and moving. This one is my favorite. I have read and re-read The Book of Lights too many times to count, and with each reading it moves me more. It is a rich tapestry of characters, woven with darkness and light. I highly recommend it to avid readers who seek out deeply developed stories and characters.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slowly Finding the Good of Darkness 23 Mar 2005
By Highly distracted and bored - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Book of Light's is one of Dr. Potok's more poetic books about searching for balance, and searching for oneself. Both characters ask themselves questions we all ask ourselves, such as "Where should I be now", "Is what I am doing now right?". In the book he offers us two completely different people that manage to find each other by accepting eachs others weekness. Gershon Loran is a young man who is very unsure of himself, yet manages to have a mind for Kabbalah, a very mystic part of the Jewish religion. His friend Arthur Leiden who seems more of a free spirit not weighed down by the responiblity that Gershon carries, or even life at this point. Though he is chased by his fathers invention, and the horror that it caused in Japan. Through out the book and throughout life he tries to make amends for a horrilbe mistake. First by joining the seminary, then going to Korea with Gershon as a chaplain. Gershon finds himself making an impact on the lives of the soilders, and Leiden searchs for forgivness from the people of Japan. Many a times both men find the answers in the darkest of places, and peace in the coldest of places. Yet throughout the while remaining each other guides. For me personally I found this book to very uplifting due to my immense interest in culture, and the theology of the Jewish religion. Plus also the many memories that still haunt us today. It gives hope to me, and those who like to find the answers. Of course we are never really surprised to find it in the most unexpected places.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painful luminescence 26 Mar 2003
By J. Proctor - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Book of Lights is one of those books that either captivates you, or bores you to death. I used to think that Chaim Potok must have written this book just for me, because I was the only person who read it. Or so it seemed. Gershon Loran reminded me of myself in seminary, a lackluster student with a spark for odd and heretical or mystical literature. Bored by normative religion, he seeks answers for the pain and suffering in his life in Kabbalagh, or Jewish mysticism. The reader sees the transformation of his soul into what his mentor, Dr. Keter, calls the next generation of Jewish mysticism: the Light of past wisdom and insight refracted through an American lense. Gershon is a mystic, and yet he doesn't seem to fully realize his potential, because it doesn't seem odd to him when G_d himself descends into his room, or he contemplates storming the throneroom of the Almighty.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unlike the others, but still very good 18 July 2003
By E. L. Weinhold - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The content was different than Potok's other books that I have read, but no less enjoyable. He writes with such a deep emotion, and I love his characters. I liked Gershon's Kabbalistic studies and how they coincided with the images of light throughout the book. I think this book was spurred by many of Potok's own experiences as a war chaplain in Korea.
I am glad I was able to read it... anything by Potok is beautiful!
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