Tag Archives: Night

Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

3 Oct

It’s been a while since I added an update to my To-Read shelf and I’ve added a full five books in the mean time!  So get ready to dive in.

  1. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.   I added this after finishing Paula McClain’s book The Paris Wife.  The book sparked my curiosity in Hemingway which I had lost since high school.  I was a big fan of his prose then and I hope I still am!  The Sun Also Rises was written while Hemingway was married to his Paris Wife, Hadley Richardson.  The story follows a set of characters similar to Hemingway and his friends as ex-patriots in 1920s Paris to the bullfighting rings of Spain.  I’m only hoping it doesn’t read too much like The Paris Wife!
  2. Finding Colin Firth by Mia March.  This is not my usual style of read and I even had Nicole comment that she thought it strange I wanted to read this.  I added it because a woman at my company mentioned she had read Dan Brown’s book Inferno as well as this one and much preferred March’s book.  As I enjoyed Inferno, I thought this might be worth an investigation.  The story focuses around three woman in a small town in Maine where Colin Firth is coming to film a new movie.  Each have their own motivation for being in town and they all discover something about themselves in the buzz of trying to find Colin Firth (you see what I did there?  Ha, I’m so funny).
  3. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  I told my friend who recommended The Devil in the White City how much I had enjoyed it and he recommended another of Larson’s books, In the Garden of Beasts.  This history focuses on the American Ambassador to Germany after World War I whose family at first enjoy the energetic Germany army and determined Germanic attitude.  The family soon discovers the German prosecution of Jews and the true nature of the Third Reich.  I’m greatly looking forward to this book, assuming I ever get to it on my to-read list!
  4. The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti.  I added this book because I won in it a Goodreads First Reads giveaway!  I never win anything so I was super excited to get this one.  The book sounds pretty interesting to boot!  It’s compared to The Kite Runner for it’s dramatics and it focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflict with a setting in Palestine.  This kind of a summary has me super excited to receive my first free book in the mail!
  5. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.  After I posted my review of Elie Wiesel’s Night, my cousin suggested that I might like Mrs. Dalloway.  Always one to take a suggestion, I’ve added it onto the list!  It focuses on Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares to host a party in Inter-War Era England.  With shifts forward and backward in time, Woolf explores a woman’s life in that era.  (Geeking out right now, great suggestion, Nate!)

So there it is!  My new additions to the To-Read list.  Have you read any of them? What were your thoughts?  Do you have any suggestions for me?  I’ll be more than happy to add them.

Book Review: Night by Elie Wiesel

26 Sep

Yet another book done!  If anyone’s counting, that’s a total of 53 for the year, well on my way to a goal of 70.  I’m trying to get ahead a bit before NaNo because that’s going to slow me down.

I read this book because I love historical accounts and because I’d never read it before.  I know, shocking.  It was never required in high school, though I do remember an ex-boyfriend who read it and raved about it.  I didn’t much respect his literary preferences then or now, but when my husband said something similar, I knew that this book must be something special.

Night by Elie Wiesel, translated by Marion Wiesel

I knew nothing about this book when I went to read it except that it was about the Holocaust.  I actually looked for it in the fiction section and had to use the library computer to find it in the non-fiction audiobooks.  Night is Wiesel’s account of the Holocaust that he survived and how harrowing of a journey he endured.  Wiesel was an adolescent when he entered the camp and only survived the first day by lying about his age.  He wrote this book (and the second two of the trilogy) years after his release and freedom.

Wiesel and his family live in Romania until they are rounded up in 1944 with the other Jews from their ghetto.  They are taken to Auschwitz where Wiesel and his father are separated from his mother and sisters, never to see them again.  He is put in a forced labor complex to sort electrical parts.  When the front starts to move closer to Auschwitz, the military moves the prisoners Buchenwald in central Germany.  The death rate on the move is over 90%.  Those who are left behind in the Auschwitz hospital ward are liberated 3 days after the SS leave.

Without spoiling the ending, I’ll conclude my summary by saying Wiesel just barely makes it out alive and is obviously shocked for life by the ordeal.  He spent his entire life fighting for human rights and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his efforts.  This book was published in 1955 and he lives to this day in New York City.  He is 95 years old.

The style Wiesel uses is very sparse in details.  He says that he’d rather write too little than too much.  One thing that Wiesel does concentrate on is feelings, emotions, and reactions.  He talks about how he feels about his father’s illness and what he remembers of it rather than describe the physical maladies his father endured.  The emotional reacting is what I feel was so compelling about Wiesel’s writing.

Much of Wiesel’s message came in the Nobel Acceptance Speech that was included in my copy.  He talks about how all people in our world should be treated like people; with fairness and justice.  At a young age, Wiesel was confounded as to how he was not worthy of the basic necessities of life.  He wants his book to move people to see that all humans, no matter how they are precised by some, are worthy of basic care.

Another theme my husband brought to my attention is Wiesel’s fight with God throughout the novel.  He starts as a devout young Jewish boy and quickly wonders why the God he loves would put his own people through such suffering and death.  Wiesel looses his faith along with most of the prisoners; they stop preying and lose respect for the rabbis.

One question that Wiesel raises is “How did the world not respond?”  If I remember my world history classes well, it wasn’t that no one responded, it’s that no one knew.  Had the world been aware of what the SS were doing to the Jews, would everyone have stood idly by and continued fighting the war for political power and control?  Or would the concentration have changed to human rights and the freedom of the captured Jews?  WWII brought about international criminal tribunals and later the ICJ.  Reaction to what happened in Auschwitz and elsewhere was extreme and severe.  I’d like to think that human concentration during WWII would have shifted from defeating Hitler to liberating the Jews had the world been aware of what was going on.

Wiesel has fought for awareness of human oppression and I think he would agree with me on this point.  If the public and political leaders are aware of problems, then we can fight against them.  Awareness must then lead to action.

This raises the issue of “slactivism” which is a term referring to those who raise awareness of an issue and do nothing to help solve it.  It will usually refer to those who re-tweet something or post on Facebook about how bad a situation is.  I think Wiesel is probably disgusted by these people because of all the forceful action he has taken toward change.  I heard author Thrity Umrigar speak and she said that protests for change are only effective when a person puts their physical safety at risk.  I loved this analogy.  March on Washington= physical risk.  Re-Tweeting about the “Kony 2012” movement= slactivism.

Writer’s Takeaways: I mentioned before that Wiesel’s focus on emotions, feelings, and reactions made this book come to life for me.  I think that’s true of all literature.  Other than that, I don’t want to recommend being a part of mass human extermination so following his life path is not recommended.  Wiesel’s passion and strong belief make him a very compelling writer.  He teaches us all to write from our hearts.

Four out of Five.  Highly recommended.