Friday, November 30, 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front, the Blogging Front, and in Book Club


On Friday last week, rather than write about book club, and instead of addressing the pile of books to mark to the right of my bed, I made the fortuitous error of picking up my Kindle and starting to read 'All Quiet on the Western Front' by Erich Marie Remarque.
Needless to say, I was unable to put it down. Despite the looming panic over craft fair preparations, and once again, what looked like a growing pile of exercise books to mark.
 
A German classic, and a famous film, the novel by Remarque presents the journey of a soldier on the front line in France during World War One. In England, we know all about the battles, trench conditions and how the war changed the nature of warfare as man had known it in the modern era. We're told lots about it in school history. Even now, however, we are perhaps not forced to confront the obvious truth: that the conditions, losses and changes were faced in Germany too. We seem to still prefer to demonise the 'enemy' and pretend that it was only us that suffered.
 
It's not really enough of a retort to say 'they started it'!, like they have no recourse to complain. What you can learn from reading this book, is that the experiences of the German soldier were as horrific and dehumanising as it was for the allies. It makes it a powerful novel as it reminds us that war affects ALL of the participants regardless of whether you are 'friend' or 'foe'. I would recommend it to anyone for a really good read, as long as you have a strong stomach, like history and the occasional piece of black humour.
 
Believe it or not, but one of the questions people tend to ask me about my relationship with a German man is whether or not our families fought each other in either of the World Wars. I've had people comment on how awkward it must be for us to converse about our country's past or even implied that I should skirt over it. Needless to say, we aren't that precious about it. I'm going to recommend him the book.
 
Put it this way, anything that Hitler set on fire in protest must contain ideas worth a read. Have you read it? What did you think?
 
I've hopefully redeemed myself by now for my absence last week; I promise I was hard at work for most of the time!  A couple of weeks ago, I asked your opinion on how to go forward with book club. Thank you so much for saying you wanted it to continue I think we've decided for Option A - which is that:
  • people who want to take part in book club nominate a book based on a given theme.
  • we then vote on this
  • after a month or so we link up our reviews.
  • we will also aim to have a live G+ chat for those who like to chew the fat over a novel.
So with that in mind I would love to have nominations for this round's theme:
Stories from another culture!
So what does that mean? Well, basically the novel you nominate should be set in a country other to your own. It should still be in English.
 
MY nomination will be a book that has been out and about for years, but one of my must reads. I would love to read and discuss:
This book, although written by a white, Scottish man, is all about a rotund, lady detective from Botswana. Light on gruesome murder, but full of careful reasoning, it's more than just ANOTHER detective series. It's short, engaging and part of a longer series which you could go on and read.....I know I look forward to each new release.
 
If you would like to make a nomination, please do so in the comment section below. On Wednesday next week, the vote will open and then we'll decide on what we can share together. I'd like to ask a little favour though....can you only nominate a book and vote if you want to join in. Lots of people seem to vote and then don't join in the read, which means people are left reading a book they maybe didn't vote for. Thank you!
 
I can't wait to see what you all come up with!
 

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4 comments:

Cocalores said...

Even though I have read loads of WWII books, I have never read this one - I have seen the film, though, and just like all the others, it is really touching.
You can't help but wonder what it must have been like for a complete generation of young people to have lost their innocence, hope, (and often enough, their future or even their lives) in these terrible years, regardless of their nationality and religion.
The kind of questions you are facing, we've had them too. What I found weirdest of all was when some English (but they could have been from any country, really) asked us if we still had Hitler statues in Germany. I was shocked at this kind of thinking, to be honest.

jen @ grown in southern ground said...

any book by jo nesbo (other than the snowman, because i've already read that one!)...
how about the phantom?

Niamh said...

I LOVED "All Quiet On the Western Front". It was the most emotional WWII book I'd read up to that point. The story is beautiful, and the language is beyond gorgeous. Haha, good choice!

jennie p. said...

was a december book decided on?

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