Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Reading Log, May and June 2007

Now that July is nearly over, I must post this list, because the need to post it is keeping me from posting anything else. Without further ado...

Sala's Gift, by Ann Kirschner--As I've said before, I find Holocaust stories compelling, and I can't resist reading them, not so much for pleasure as for knowledge and understanding.

Many Thing You No Understand, by Adaora Lily Ulasi--Just as I've had some of my reading focusing on WWII and Germany recently, I ended up reading this book in close proximity with another book set in Africa, which always makes me feel as if I'm getting to see things in sharper relief. (I'll put that book in my July list, assuming I make one in a timely fashion.)

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak--Wonderful, well-told story. I will read this one again.

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield--another book that I loved and will mostly likely read again. These character-driven books always win with me.

The Good Soldier, by Ford Maddox Ford--I wrote a good bit about this when I read it. It was an interesting "unreliable narrator" story.

Ladder of Years, by Anne Tyler--I thought I wrote a nice summary of this at the time I read it, but I guess I didn't. I do recall that it was very well written (Anne Tyler is an award-winning author, and deserves it), and that the main character left her family because they didn't appreciate what she did, only to end up doing the same things she was doing before, except for other people. In the end, she makes some good friends, and ends up back with her family, but the story wasn't entirely satisfactory.

Remembering, by Wendell Berry--now THIS was an amazing (if short) book. Deserves a whole post of its own, so I won't say much here, except to say that it was a breath of fresh air after some of the more negative and depressing material I had been reading.

From Dawn to Decadence, by Jacques Barzun--only some, not enough, and I am woefully behind.

Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes--only about 100 pages so far, but enough to be amused.

The Approaching Storm, by Nora Waln--another book that needs a whole post to itself, as I've said before.

Candide, by Voltaire--I'm listening to this at Librivox, and I'm only about 1/3 of the way through it.

I really needed to get this list into the blog before I completely forgot everything. I'm pretty sure there was another book I read (at least one), and I know there was one I started and abandoned (my second abandoned book for the year), but I can't remember the title of either of them, so this will have to do. I'll edit this post if I find the piece of paper on which I conscientiously wrote them down (and then lost).


Friday, July 13, 2007

Sala's Gift

I'm going to win the "Absentee Blogger Award" for July as well as June if I don't get busy, so without further ado...

One of my recent read was Sala's Gift, the story of a young Jewish girl who survived the Holocaust in a series of labor (not death) camps. I find Holocaust literature extremely compelling in general, and will read just about anything on the subject.

This story is told by Sala's daughter, Ann Kirschner, who never knew much about her mother's Holocaust experience until late in her life, when she gave her daughter a collection of letters and even photographs that she had miraculously saved throughout her time in the camps.

The story is interspersed with translations of the letters both to and from Sala, and like every survivor's story I have ever read, the thin line between hope and despair, between life and death, between survival and defeat, is followed by Sala, who spent years in labor camps in various parts of Poland.

Some of the letters are written in Polish, although later they had to be written in German, so I was able to read bits and pieces of the originals from the reproductions in the book. I've been in some of the locations mentioned, too.

But yesterday, I was in the city, and saw a notice about an exhibition of the original letters (apparently the first European exhibition, although the letters have been displayed in the US). It's at the Galicia Jewish Museum. I'll definitely make a point of getting down there before the end of September!

And on a completely unrelated I the only one who can no logger upload pictures on blogger? What happened?