Tuesday, January 26, 2010

three recent reads

The system is this:
Books that have been read go out in the living room, stored away in the makeshift case that is really nothing more than a sweater chest. Books yet to be enjoyed take their place in a stack next to the bed.

So now that you understand the order of my book universe, you can understand how it unintentionally came to be, upon simply grabbing the next book from the bedside pile (many purchased for me as gifts), that I happened to read three WWII, Holocaust- focused books in a row. I probably wouldn't purposefully pick such a heart-wrenching, mind consuming, makes you want to curl up and cry sorta topic and then read book after book on it....but the system allowed for it to happen. All three books (and particularly the last one) were so enlightening and most certainly worth talking about for a few moments.

The first one, mentioned earlier, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, was by far the lightest read of the bunch. It peeked into German occupation of the English Channel Islands during the war and mixed in a little love story. Although it did touch on a couple lives affected by mainland concentration camps, it was not the focus of the story. Good, easy read. Go for it.

The second book I dived into was Sarah's Key. Thanks to long naps on Teddy's part and late nights on my own, I devoured this novel in 2 days. It was definitely the "can't put it down until I know the ending" type. Written by a Parisian, Sarah's Key told the story of one Jewish family's struggle under Nazi occupation in France's capital city. It focused specifically on the greatest mass arrest of Jews, on French soil (by French police), known today as the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. Did you know in the span of 2 years, France alone sent 80,000 Jews to the concentration camps?!? The numbers are so mind blowing, life so devalued, that it's really difficult to even comprehend. Sarah's Key was a heart-stopping novel that makes you believe in the power of historical fiction to educate and help us remember.

My dad sent me Those Who Save Us a couple years ago and for whatever reason, it was never picked out of the pile until last week. When I read the first couple pages and realized it was another Holocaust narrative, I almost reached for a different pick. I'm so glad I didn't. Those Who Save Us told the haunting story of life inside Germany, for both Jewish and non-Jewish Germans. For the many who ask (myself being one), how could the German people allow such atrocities to take place during the Reich's reign? This book is for you. It is such a vivid glance into the economical, moral, and family conditions in German towns during the war. In no way does it excuse the complacency of non-Jews, if anything you could set the story aside with more judgements than when you began, but I promise you this....the story will seep into your soul, floating with you each day. And isn't that awareness, that recognition, that permanent piece of your heart that died just knowing what happened, one of the the only things we can give the victims?

So that's that. All great novels and if anyone else reads one, tell me...I love to talk books. For now, I'm sailing away to life in the southern hemisphere with The Savage Detectives.

1 comment:

  1. you are my book reading idol. i think i have ADD lately. i can't focus on one thing for much longer than 10 minutes. maybe it's pregnancy?