Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring break reading.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene had a lot of grand themes, like love, hate, and God, but it actually wasn't that good. Mostly it was about loss and hatred, but it did have a few very lovely redeeming parts. I guess books written almost entirely about hate and jealousy aren't really worthwhile reading to me.

I'm endlessly interested in Middle Eastern culture, so The Bookseller of Kabul by ├ůsne Seierstad was a natural read. Although the translation was a little lacking, it was still a really interesting portrait of a family living in Kabul. Mostly it was written about events that occurred in the everyday happenings of a Islamic family, but it was over much too soon. Once you were completely involved in the family's life, it was time for the epilogue.

Mmm, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Dad sent me a suggested reading list a few years ago with this novel on it, but I never got around to reading it until now. I know it's a classic, and it's a classic for a reason, but I was completely blown away nonetheless. It all tied up so neatly and I just loved everything about it. It is, on the surface, about war, but it is about so much more, encompassing the past, present, and future in Billy Pilgrim's life. For a while after reading it, I was echoing Vonnegut by finishing thoughts with, "So it goes." Fantastic.

The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang also blew me away. Mostly because I began to realize how very little I was taught about the Pacific limb of World War II in school. The Japanese invasion of the Chinese city of Nanking (at the time the capital of China) was incredibly brutal and devastating. Well-known German Nazis who were in Nanking at the time of the invasion wrote to Hitler, horrified by how terrible the events were. However, after WWII, China became communist which is apparently worse than fascism or something, because many of the Japanese war criminals associated with the Nanking massacre were let go, and even today in Japan, it is known not as the Nanking Rape or Massacre, but as the Nanking "Incident." Yikes.


The Wanderers' Daughter said...

haha! and I am also reading the Rape of Nanking right now. We met our daughter for the first time in Nanjing, so it's close to home for us, metaphorically.

jen laceda said...

Wow, this is a great list! You have just inspired me to get some spring reading done! I've been so involved in the web & blogs that I am forgetting the feel of paper on my fingertips. I think I might just pick up The Bookseller of Kabul first, then follow it with the Rape of Nanjing, although I just know my husband would say to go for Vonnegut (since K.V. is his fave)!