Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Reading

And finally: the most important thing.
Summer reading!
So here's a list of the things I've been reading. . . I love summer because I can spend so much time on my own reading, rather than just school stuff.
I've discovered Agatha Christie, the obvious alternative when you've run out of Sherlock Holmes. ;-) She's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. If only I could write mysteries with such brilliancy!
By her I've read:
Death on the Nile (Excellent unexpected ending!)
The A.B.C Murders (Another book with a twist at the end).
And Then There Were None (did I mention the excellent unexpected ending?)

By Ann Rinaldi I read The Coffin Quilt. An excellent book about the Hatfield's and McCoy's, I really enjoyed that one. I just finished it today. She didn't take many liberties, actually, and the ones she did I approved of. Of course she had to imagine a great deal about what people said and felt, but if she hadn't it would have only been a history book. Also, she took up the side of the McCoy's (while still showing that both families were wrong), which I highly approved of. My maxim is, "When in doubt, side with the most obviously Scottish people."

And of course, why bother going to the library at all if you're not going to get a few history books? I rarely draw the line at one. This month I read:
Witness to the Holocaust, by Azriel Eisenberg
Poland in the Second World War, by Józef Garliński

I highly commend both authors.

I strongly recommend Eisenberg's book. I think it's important to seek out first-hand accounts whenever studying history, but with subjects such as the holocaust I find this especially true. This book is very informative and vivid, and overall real. It doesn't beat around the bush or tone down it's message for the benefit of the reader. Not the sort of thing you read at breakfast. (I discovered).
Many of the accounts were never before translated into English. I can't imagine the massive amount of work that went into this book's creation. Azriel Eisenberg was certainly on a mission, one very important to him: he didn't want anyone to forget. He certainly succeeded: I don't think anybody could forget a single word read from that book.

Józef Garliński's book is lovingly and painstakingly put together. Maybe I only think so because I'm not Polish, but it seems to me Mr. Garliński has an astonishing affection for his country. It must have taken a lot of work to organize all those facts, although perhaps not, as I think they were probably burned into his memory eternally. Garliński also wrote the bestseller, Fighting Auschwitz. I haven't read that.
In all honesty, I am not too far into Poland--it takes me awhile to absorb the political things which are so important to understand. I just learned the rudimentary steps to pronouncing Polish, and am incredibly pleased with myself, now that I can actually sound out and understand place and people names. However, now it's due to be returned to the library, which sort of took the wind out of my sails. Actually it was due two days ago. Since I can't renew it anymore, I'll have to return it--but I will check it back out and finish it!

And of course, the dose of classics: F. Scott Fitzgerald. I've read:
The Beautiful and Damned
The Great Gatsby

Gatsby was by far my favorite. A wonderful story. The Beautiful and Damned--ah, it's worth ploughing through all that self-imposed heartbreak just to get to the sardonic, priceless ending! Never saw it coming.
Both books provide good lessons that I intend to take to heart. The characters made themselves absolutely miserable by their own personal choices. (In much the same way as was shown in The Coffin Quilt). I do really pity Gatsby and Daisy, and poor Nick too, forced into the middle position--everybody's confidante. That is a great burden.
However, I didn't feel one whit sorry for Anthony and Gloria of The Beautiful and Damned. I thought they were great selfish children. (Well, I did feel a little sorry for them, in the beginning. But soon it was simple to see they brought it all upon themselves).
I got out Fitzgerald's book The Last Tycoon, which I haven't started yet. I know it was his last book and it is unfinished, so the whole thing will be bittersweet, as I know I'll never truly know the ending.

So, that's my summer reading.
Well, I've really got to go get some sleep--I think we'll be dropping by the library tomorrow, where I hope to grab a few more Agatha Christie mysteries...
;-) Kaley

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