Books by Noah benShea

JACOB THE BAKER by Noah benShea
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 4, 2013

A Jewish version of Chinese fortune cookies. When poor baker Jacob accidentally drops a scrap of paper—with a pithy saying written on it—into some bread dough, his secret wisdom is revealed to the townsfolk, who come to him for more guidance. The meat of this little (113 pp.) book consists of tiny tales of Jacob dispensing his wisdom like bonbons. Jacob's teachings themselves, however, won't give the Old or New Testament or any other source of venerable wisdom a run for their money—they're a mix of the hackneyed, the commonsensical, and the sentimental: " ‘All my life I have searched for meaning,' he said. ‘The meaning is in the search,' said Jacob"; "If you don't have words," says Jacob to a couple with communication problems, "then share what you do have. Share the silence." Still, benShea, a former assistant dean of students at UCLA and now owner of the New York Bagel Factory, invests Jacob's ersatz pearls with sufficient gloss to tap—perhaps deeply—into the readership that's buying up Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Sept. 9, 1991

Poor Jacob—his well-sugared words of wisdom (Jacob the Baker, 1989) have become so popular that petitioners now prevent him from doing any baking. ``I am Jacob the Baker,'' he thinks, ``...if I cannot be what I am, then I cannot be where I am. It is time for me to go.'' So Jacob sets off on a quest for quietude—but finds that people everywhere are hungry for his wisdom, which he dispenses at the slightest invitation (coming upon a freezing old man who says to him, ``I had no place to go,'' Jacob replies: ``Where are any of us going?''). Author benShea, president of the New York Bagel Factory, keeps the faux-pearls of wisdom rolling at a dizzying pace (and headlines each chapter with them in case readers miss the point: e.g., ``Reality Is Only a Memory Ahead of Its Time,'' or, ``A Fool Is Someone Who Knows Too Much to Learn Anything'') until Jacob at last returns home, having learned that ``Wherever We Stop on Our Journey, the First Person We Will Meet is Ourself.'' A self- styled ``fable,'' then, that should please benShea's fans and perhaps a few of Robert Fulghum's, too. Read full book review >