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Archive for the tag “All Quiet on the Western Front”

World War I Reading Challenge Announcement

It all started with All Quiet on the Western Front. I had never read anything on World War I before and had only the slightest frame of reference. Then I read A Farewell to Arms, my second book on World War I, my first Hemingway novel, and I found myself reading everything about World War I that I could find.

In my search for titles, I stumbled across the http://warthroughthegenerations.wordpress.com/, which is holding a World War I Reading Challenge which ends on December 31, 2012. Although I am certainly late in my discovery, I thought given my recent fascination with World War I and the Lost Generation writers, I would join in. I am coming at the Wade level, in which participants read 4-10 books in any genre with World War I as a primary or secondary theme.

With that in mind, here’s what I’ll be reading:

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

A Duty to the Dead is a Bess Crawford Mystery, following Bess Crawford, an English nurse serving on the front in France during World War I, who seems to keep happening into murders. I started this particular series out of order, with An Unmarked Grave, and enjoyed the mystery and the storytelling so much I had to try the rest of them.

The First World War by John Keegan

The First World War is an incredibly readable one volume account of World War I. Although Keegan occasionally gets lost in the military details, its been an interesting and very readable account so far. I anticipate this volume taking the longest- the print is small, and its roughly 500 pages.

The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response by Peter Balakian

The Burning Tigris focuses on the Armenian Genocide, and although World War I is more of a backdrop, the two are inextricably linked. I purchased this book quite awhile ago, and decided that this was the time to take it off of the to be read pile and move it to the read pile.

My fourth book will be The Great Gatsby. Part of what drew me to this time period was the works of the Lost Generation, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work fits clearly into that category.

If you are interested in finding out more about the War Through the Generations 2012 Reading Challenge, please visit them at http://warthroughthegenerations.wordpress.com/2012-challenge-info-and-sign-up/.

 

 

 

Summer Reading Challenge 2012…the countdown is on!

Well, there is a little over a week left until the end of my Summer Reading Challenge, and I thought it was time for a progress report. Those that are crossed off have been completed. Those in bold are in progress.

1. One Book Recommended By A Friend Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
2. One Book That Has Been Sitting On Your Shelf For Over A Year The Shack by Paul W. Young
3. One Book You Read A Long Time Ago And Want To ReRead Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
4. One Book From Your To Be Read List The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
5. One Book You’ve Never Heard Of On Hitler’s Mountain by Irmagard Hunt
6. One Classic All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
7. One Book You Started But Never Finished Emma by Jane Austen
8. One New Release Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by AJ Jacobs
9. One Book That Is Outside of Your Typical Genre Poetry and Prose by Walt Whitman
10. One Chunkster (A Book That Is Over 400 Pages) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I feel fairly confident that I can finish The Secret Life of Bees and Emma before Labor Day, but I admit, I am feeling less confident about being able to complete a monster volume of Whitman poetry, Gilead, The Shack, and a re-read of Sense & Sensibility before the end of next week. It’s just not terribly realistic of me to even try…and its doubtful I would even enjoy the books if I did.
Regardless of how things end up, I did learn some things by participating in the challenge. While I don’t consider these a justification or substitute for the fact I didn’t finish, they are still worth mentioning.
I tend to read in topical groups or series. This summer, after reading All Quiet on the Western Front, I couldn’t help but delve further into literature and history on World War I.  Although I took a course on European History in high school,  I learned very little on World War I in school, or even graduate school, in spite of the fact it would set things up for World War II would would shape modern history around the globe. It seemed that something was missing in my knowledge base, so it prompted me to read everything I can get my hands on in order to fix that.
I’ve also noticed I like series. It helps me know what’s next on my reading list and keeps things orderly.
If I am reluctant to read something, little will change my desire to read it…even posting it on a blog. I have had little to no desire to read The Shack, no many how times its been recommended to me. I even own a copy (it was a gift) and I can’t bring myself to read it. Honestly, I’ve glimpsed at it and its hard to get past the writing. I want to give it a chance…but I can’t when there is so many other things to read!
It’s easy for me to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to books. As soon as review copies started coming in, and I was getting new paperbacks from Paperbackswap.com, and I was let loose in the library…well… let’s just say it all went downhill from there.
Although I refuse to give up hope just yet, I realistically report that I may not finish my Summer Reading Challenge. Check back on September 4th to check on the final reading stats.

Summer Reading Challenge Progress Report

Well, it has been over a month since my post announcing my participation in the Summer Reading Challenge and I thought I should update all of you on my progress to date.

So far, I’ve finished:

6. One Classic All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

8. One New Release Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by AJ Jacobs

And  I am nearly completed with:

10. One Chunkster (A Book That Is Over 400 Pages) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

It’s not a bad start considering one of the books on that list is over 800 pages, but there are still 7 books that remain on the list, and of course, a few of the remaining could fall into the chunkster category as well. I also have quite a stack of books in my to be read pile, as well as, two books from publishers to be finished and reviewed. With this challenge, and that big stack of library books, I’ve decided to suspend my holds for the next few weeks at my local library.

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the challenge because it presents such a wide variety of books, but I have found that one of the things I also desire during the summer is some light reading. So I think my compromise is that I will press on with my Summer Reading Challenge, but I will also weave in some lighter fiction as well, more than likely on weekends when I have more time to read.

If you’ve taken up the challenge with me, what are you reading, and how are you progressing so far?

Review: All Quiet on the Western Front

My experience with literature about World War I prior to All Quiet on the Western Front was scant at best. I had heard of the brutality of trench warfare, of really any warfare, but I experienced it more deeply as I read Remarque’s famous work.

Paul and his classmates had been convinced of the glories of war by their teachers, mentors, and guides. And indeed,

For us lads of eighteen they ought to have been mediators and guides to the world of maturity, the world of work, of duty, of culture of progress- to the future.

But they find out all too soon they have been led astray as the gory, brutal, inhumanities of war crash in around them.

Paul wrestles with his humanity as he kills a Frenchman he is caught in a trench with. He tries to see a life beyond the trenches, but cannot.

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another…What do they expect of us if a time ever comes when the war is over? … What will happen afterwards? What will come out of us?

All Quiet on the Western Front is one of those rare novels that hypnotically pulls you into the scenes and then forces you to face and to question what you have just seen. Often required reading for youth, I would add it should also be required reading for adults. If you’re going to add one classic to your summer reading lists, add this one.

A quote from All Quiet on the Western Front

I was struck again by the power of beautifully written prose as I began Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front last night. Remarque is painting an amazing picture with this words, and begins to make me think in the very first chapter as Paul speaks of his teacher, and the way that he and his friends were convinced to enlist. But he notes the distinctions between his fellow soldiers and the teachers that encouraged them to enlist for love of country as he says,

While they continued to write and talk, we saw the saw the wounded in the dying. While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger. p.13

War had already begun shaping Paul, changing who he was and how he viewed the world, and in this quote, Remarque gives us allows us to see the shift, and to understand it.

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