Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Niche Reading (on WWII and "odd shelves")

As you may or may not know, my whole life, I have loved reading about World War II.
It started when I read Anne Frank's diary at age 11. Since then, I think I've re-read her diary (Kitty, as she liked to call it) twice. I also remember reading Number the Stars in 5th grade, and drawing pictures of the characters.
I read several WWII memoirs in high school (In My Hands and Night were my favorites), and lots of fiction based in WWII.
I just finished The Art Student's War, which was so wonderful. I am now about to begin La's Orchestra Saves the World, a novel about a recently divorced woman who moves from London to Suffolk during the war, and forms an orchestra out of various musicians in the village. The cover of my book has a sticker on it that reads, "A BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime," and I really hope that means this was read out loud over the radio in England as a late night book-lullaby. 
World War II books were some of my first book loves, and
 reading newly-discovered ones now reminds me of high school, and just makes me feel really comfortable and at home, kind of like watching a favorite TV show in syndication. 
In Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, Anne Fadiman writes that most avid readers have a certain "odd shelf" in their bookcase that houses a very specific niche type of book. Anne's "odd shelf" contained large quantities of reading material on ancient Arctic explorations. Mine is definitely my WWII shelf.
Do you have an odd shelf? What's on it?

1 comment:

madeleine said...

I kept meaning to comment on this post, but my brain is like a sieve at the moment! What I wanted to say was that it's so good to know that I'm not the only person who fixates on certain types of books - although I go through phases. I went through a massive Henry VII, yes, VII, not VIII. I'm too cool for Henry 8th (I joke. I've read a tonne on that too). I think part of the reason WW2 is so fascinating to you, and me and everyone else is because it's such a monumentally horrific event, and literature - fact & fiction - is one of the ways to get our heads around it, understand it and work from it. I recently read Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks, which is about a Scottish girl who ends up in Vichy France, and I totally loved it (even though I didn't like Engleby by Faulks). I was surprised by how well he wrote Charlotte, she had insecurities and a non perfect attitude and body. So if thats not on your shelf, I'd recommend it. I've just started Defiance, and it's completely mindbogglingsurreal and gives such hope for the human race.

Another rambling comment - I'm feeling less insecure about them! Have a wonderful week :)