Rabbi Jacobs first discusses one book in each of his three specialist fields of theology, mysticism, and Talmud.
His choice for theology is Maimonides’s Guide to the Perplexed. However, Rabbi Jacobs owns up to the fact that he is not overly keen on Maimonides, largely because his medieval views are rooted in Greek philosophy. He also finds some of his views, for example on eternity and women, unattractive.
His classic for the mysticism is the Zohar which he finds attractive, particularly the legends of Shimon bar Yohai. He accepts that it might be odd for someone who adheres to rational Judaism to be interested in the non-rational Zohar.
He is unable to name a favourite book on the Talmud, nothing which has been produced has been terribly satisfactory. He would have welcomed a single guide to the Talmud.
Rabbi Jacobs turns to his favourite secular authors. He prefers Edwardian authors, particularly Shaw, Chesterton and HG Wells despite their apparent superficiality. He deals with the question of Chesterton’s perceived anti-Semitism, but believed he had a genius for dealing with religious ideas.
Rabbi Jacobs then reveals which book he would take to a desert island and finally discusses his own experiences of being an author.