Most of the books I choose to read, I end up liking -- maybe I'm just a good chooser -- or maybe I just know what I'll like and what I won't. To the best of my memory, the only book that's been a "wallbanger" for me was Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Yes, I'm well aware that it's a classic -- and I'm also well aware that life is way too short to read books you actually want to heave against a wall. The problem with Anna Karenina, strangely enough, was that it contained way too much detail. I was suffocating between the pages -- with no chance to use my own imagination. I've discovered that the best authors are the ones who provide just enough detail and then let the reader fill in the blanks.
Anybody whose read this blog or my forum knows how much I love medieval history -- especially that of England. If I don't force myself to read outside of that box, that's all I'd ever read -- which isn't a bad thing necessarily but, occasionally, I like to expand my horizons -- mostly, I must admit, by still going medieval but doing so in France and Italy.
And, then one day, out of the blue, I chose to read a book which was set during a time period which I have long avoided -- World War II and the Holocaust. I can't even remember which book it was -- maybe it was City of Shadows or My Enemy's Cradle -- or perhaps The Kommandant's Girl -- and maybe picking those particular books came about because I watched a film called Zwartboek (Black Book). Whatever the combination, there I was in a world which had been patiently waiting for me to pay attention.
So, okay, I'm paying attention now.
All of those books I've mentioned touched me, shook me, made me wonder why some people become monsters and some become silent. I've always said that none of us, no matter what we think we'd do in any given situation, really don't know until we're smack dab in the middle of it. But we all hope that, in the face of such depravity and horror, we would stand up and say something. Or maybe we'd learn a lesson about judging others -- because all of us would do whatever it took to protect those we love. Just look into your children's eyes -- even if they're grown -- and you'll know it to be true.
One of the novels I read was Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. It's been a few weeks since I finished it -- and I've meant to write about it before now (again, I'm not a reviewer -- just a reader) -- but other things were going on and I didn't take the time to say what needs to be said. And what needs to be said is very simple:
READ THIS BOOK
And, if you ever think, "oh I know what I'd do in that situation", think again. Because you don't.
I really can't even come up with the words to say what I want to say so these few I've written will have to suffice. The book was an emotional punch, beginning to end. And, if you think you don't want to be punched, please reconsider.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
And, if you can't remember the past, then read about it.
But, yes, I know. This is coming from someone who minored in history in college and who finds history endlessly entertaining and enlightening. And from someone who believes you can learn by looking forward and backward.
Jenna Blum's second novel, The Stormchasers, will be out in May. Different era, different place. Can't wait.
Welcome to LIS!!
As an aspiring writer, I blog about whatever happens to move me at the moment -- though some posts contain serious content, my big-picture goal is to bring a little humor into an often humorless world! Welcome, y'all, and make yourself at home! Please make sure you update your bookmarks!
When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus