Beer and Bagels for Breakfast -- order here or read reviews...

A diary of my two years spent as a kibbutz volunteer -- a fantastic time!









Reviews from my guestbook

"I bought your book from Amazon a couple of days ago for 20; at first I thought that was a bit steep, but I can honestly say it's the best 20 I've ever spent. Your book is fantastic. I was considering volunteering on a kibbutz and decided to do a bit of research, so I bought your book and so I'm convinced I have to go. Thank you for providing prospective volunteers such as myself with a no-holds-barred account of your time on a kibbutz."
Ben, via e-mail

"I've just read your book (got a bit of a bargain, 5 on eBay, shortly sending it to another kibbutz head for their pleasure) and its bloody brilliant... if there were more travel-related books like yours I'm positive there would be more people getting off their asses."
Sonny, UK

"I was on Kibbutz Magen in 1985 and again in 1986. Reading your book transports me back to a time when the biggest worry was where the next bottle of vodka came from! It is escapism in its truest form and I can relate to so much of it that I keep it as a kind of 'lazy' diary of my own experiences! Well done!"
Jackie, UK

"I read your book whilst on holiday in France last year. It made me laugh and was very similar to my own experiences there -- A great read..."
Metalhead, UK

"I read some stuff from your book, and I couldn't stop laughing... we've all had the same experiences..."
Maria, Sweden

"Your book is really funny! It brings back a lot of memories."
Carina, Sweden

"I just finished reading your book and it was absolutely hilarious and very informative!! I'm seriously considering becoming a volunteer in the near future. Thanks for the insight!"

"Read your book which was superb; good to see things have not changed too much from my volunteer days."
Phil, UK

"It was really funny to read. I am for sure now I will go to a kibbutz this summer!"
Silvia, Holland

"I've been reading the snippets from your book and it's really brought back the memories."
Trevor, UK

"I'm from a kibbutz in Northern Israel. I read your book and its wonderful... so real... and funny for a kibbutz kid like me. The people like you were always a mystery and very special. When I was young my parents were in charge of the kibbutz volunteers and I remember them all. Your book brought all my memories back."
BL, Israel

"I just finished reading your book. It definitely brought back memories of the kibbutz/Ulpan volunteer time."
Hannah, USA


Reviews from online book sites

"Having been a kibbutz volunteer myself I can guarantee that this book is like a snapshot of my time in Israel too! From the first impressions of the living quarters to the dining room experiences to the stories of parties and kibbutz romances (ahh...) Carson has captured these memories brilliantly! And also in an extremely funny way -- I can't remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a book. This is a DEFINITE must for any potential or past kibbutz volunteers."


"If you've been to a kibbutz then this book will frustrate and annoy you, although not in the way you might think. 'Why didn't I keep a bloody diary?' was my first thought. Many of the stories that come out of a kibbutz may seem closer to fiction than fact.
Countless tales of debauchery with Scandinavians, bottles of vodka downed every night, hairy situations involving mad Arabs and mad Israelis. It all happens, but for those that don't experience this world it may be hard to believe. Credit to John Carson; he did what I always wanted to do and wrote a book about his time in Israel. Many of the situations are similar to mine, but I'm sure there were many that he chose to leave out as no one would have believed him.
For those who have been, this book will stir those warm and fuzzy memories we all still hold for our own little plot of the Promised Land. For those intending to go, read the book to see what might be possible, but keep in mind that how much fun you have depends solely on you (and how evil the volunteer leader is).
For those of you who don't ever want to go to Israel and certainly don't plan on visiting a kibbutz in the future, then leave this book well alone as it may just change your mind. Forget Is Harry On The Boat if you want to find out what young people do abroad then read this.
I just have to work on my own book now. The working title of which is Thank Schnitzel it's Friday.'"


"Beer and Bagels for Breakfast is the diary over a year of one guy who goes to a kibbutz in Israel.
It is VERY funny and a book that all volunteers and ex-volunteers can recognize with. It would also be a good book for any body thinking of becoming a volunteer, as I really think it sums up kibbutz life. The author has really done a great job summing up the crazy unique way of life in Israel, and it will make you giggle when you read some of the antics him and the crazy people they call the volunteers get up to."


"High jinks, low jinks and whatever comes in between; this book's got 'em all. A hilariously funny, perceptive account of one of the author's sojourns on an Israeli kibbutz, it charts his progress from kibbutz 'virgin' to seasoned volunteer, well versed in the complex arts and rituals involved in getting paralytic and still making it to work by 6 a.m. next morning. An essential handbook -- some would even say Bible -- for would-be-volunteers, and a scrapbook for seasoned veterans. For everyone else, an addictive read and a good laugh. Buy it."


"This candid look at John's misadventures during his stay on an Israeli kibbutz is not recommended for the idealists among us... nor the parents of any potential kibbutz volunteer. He offers lots of stories which show the inspiring and monotonous moments of his life on the kibbutz. Stories of actual life on the kibbutz are interspersed among numerous stories of his social interaction with the other volunteers and Israelis (from highs of his drunken debauchery to the lows of his killing of chickens).
If you're looking for a candid and real picture of what life is going to be like on a kibbutz (from hard, sweaty work to stinky, monotonous work), then this is the book for you.
If you're looking for romantic stories about a man finding himself and the meaning of life in Israel, you're not going to get it here."


"If you've spent time as a volunteer on a kibbutz this book will bring all those great memories flooding back; if you haven't then you will definitely want to after reading this. John's account of life as a volunteer takes you through the good times and the not so good times with brutal honesty and a dry wit. I laughed so much I spilt my beer!"


"Nice one John. While he isn't exactly a Shakespeare or a Milton, Carson's writing keeps you hooked from the first page to the last. What's more, he wouldn't claim to be Shakespeare or Milton.
This book is no work of art, it's a labour of love -- reflecting John's happy-go-lucky character and laid-back attitude to life. A great way to spend those boring train journeys to work.
By the way, if you are reading this before going to volunteer on a kibbutz, don't let your parents see it... unless you have very open-minded parents!"


"This book takes us through the experiences of John Carson on his time on a kibbutz in Israel. His story begins, 'I swear even my dog Smokey had a tear in her eye as I turned and bid farewell to my family...' and very much sets the mood for the rest of the book. You will find it hard to put this book down; it gives us a very funny account of John's time on a kibbutz.
If you have ever been on a kibbutz, it will bring all the memories back. If you haven't been on one, it will probably make you want to go.
And even if none of these apply to you, it's still a bloody good read. Buy it today..."


"Found out about this book on Carson's Web site and could not find a copy in the US. Found it here and ordered it right away. It arrived on Saturday and I was finished with it on Sunday.
I especially enjoyed the conversational tone and jokes with me, the reader. It is styled as a journal forcing the descriptions to be vivid and concise which helps to visualize all the locations and adventures. As a reader, I felt like I was on the same adventure.
I was very pleased to see that Carson was so open-minded about his experiences and described the kibbutzniks with such care. My husband and I are planning to volunteer next year and after reading this book I am even more excited about the adventures that I will have than I was before. Thanks!
(Though, I don't think that we will be hungover as often as was the intrepid author.)"


"I thought it was a very enjoyable book to read, especially if you are a former volunteer. It makes you wish you could turn back the clock and do it all again."


"I read this book in one sitting and it brought back memories of being a kibbutz volunteer. This book will give you a realistic inside view of a volunteer's daily life. I would definitely recommend this as a 'must read' before heading to a kibbutz... however with the caveat that you can also have a great kibbutz experience without necessarily being a big beer drinker."


"Read your book in one single turn, made me go back into time again. It's the book to read before and after a stay at a kibbutz. To try to catch the thought you need for being a kibbutz volunteer or to dream back remembering all those marvellous experiences -- because the book describes the whole lot. Great writing John!"


"Beer and Bagels for Breakfast was a very enjoyable and informative book to read. I really felt that I was actually there sharing the experiences of life as a kibbutz volunteer. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are wishing to join a kibbutz or anyone else who fancies learning some Hebrew and Israeli culture in between laughing.
Thank you for giving the world this great book."


"As an old volunteer I praise John for his great book. It is his own story and life on his kibbutz, yet it feels like I wrote this book. So real and so honest at the same time. This is what you do, what you see, the people you meet on a kibbutz. And what a country to visit! Every time I come back from my kibbutz I try to explain what it is all about, but it is not that easy. Thanks to John, things are easier now and I reckon this book should be read by everybody interested in partying, Zionism, Israel, friendship."


"It's an excellent book and I would recommend anyone to read it. If you have been a volunteer on a kibbutz it will bring all your memories to life again -- apart from the drunken ones that you'll never remember."


"I've always wondered what it's like to be a kibbutz volunteer, and now I know... parties, girls, lots of booze, trips around Israel, the odd terrorist alert and drug raid -- oh, and milking of cows and sowing the seed! Forget Bill Bryson, forget The Beach, I think John Carson could be the next 'big thing' in travel books. Once you read this you will be strapping on your backpack and heading off to the Middle East..."


"A very interesting and enjoyable book; the graphic detail made you feel as if you knew everyone and had been there."


"Beer and Bagels for Breakfast manages to capture brilliantly the experiences of a young man on a kibbutz in Israel.
As the title suggests, the author is more interested in the finer things in life; a preoccupation which results in many amusing anecdotes which keep the story flowing nicely.
This is not a book with any great plot, or a grand master plan lurking in the background; rather it is a work which takes on a journey with the author -- a journey which he obviously enjoyed immensely, and I did also."


"The book is very easy to read; the descriptions of life on a kibbutz brought back all my memories. I went back in '97 and got into the same kind of situations as the author. Every aspect of kibbutz volunteer life is explained, including the bad times too, but overall you can tell that the author had a fantastic time and misses those fun days. Highly recommended!"


"This book is witty and outrageously funny. Carson made his experience come alive through the pages of this book. His encounters will bring a smile to your face, even if you have no idea what he is talking about culturally. This book is guaranteed to make you want to get on a plane bound for Israel.
I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh, or insight into a different way of life -- kibbutz life."


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