What I Read: January, 2015

Last month I introduced a new series (ish) for the books I’ve been working on reading lately. I’m still working on figuring out exactly how I want to go forward with this – whether I want to use it as a way to list the books I’m planning on reading, the books I’m currently reading, or the books I’ve read recently. Whatever I end up doing though, I do know I want to focus more blog posts on reading in 2015 so it’s a series that’s going to stick around in some form or another.

Trial and error tells me that listing the books I plan on reading doesn’t work because I usually end up reading entirely different books. And the same holds true for listing the books I’m currently working on (ex. of the books on last month’s list, I finished one and made some progress in one other). So this month, I’m going to try out sharing the books I’ve finished lately with short synopses (hopefully to be followed later by longer reviews) of each. Let me know which version you prefer and, as always, follow along on Goodreads for updates and short reviews (and so I can stalk your reading list for ideas).

Full disclosure: Looking back, I’m realizing that, without intending to, I became pretty preoccupied with the war and, in particular, the Holocaust this month. 

what I read

The End of War, by John Horgan

I finished this book at the beginning of the month and actually already posted a review of it last week. Even though this was a research-based book, I found it incredibly easy to get through. I think this was partially because the subject was one I was really interested in, but also because Horgan writes in a way that’s easy to understand and punctuated straight research with quotes and personal anecdotes. Definitely a must-read if you’re interested in human nature and what seems like our predisposition towards fighting wars.

In The Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson

I bought this book at the same time I bought The End of War and if I’m being honest, I didn’t have much hope that I’d actually finish it. I have what my roommate calls a sick fascination with the Holocaust (mainly because I just cannot fathom what made entire countries go along with Hitler), so I gravitated towards this book immediately, but as I was sitting on the bus heading home, reading the back and realizing that this was a non-fiction piece about the American Ambassador and his family living in Germany in 1933, based solely on research taken from diaries, recordings, and old photographs, I got worried that this book was more up my dad’s alley. As it turned out though, I loved this book and finished it in a few days. And actually, I learned a couple things about the Holocaust that I had never learned in school (and that, full disclosure, left me in absolute shock and slightly sick-feeling).

Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay

This is another book about the Holocaust, but this one took place in France and the atrocities committed by the French police in 1942 during the Vel d’Hiv. If you don’t know what that is don’t worry – neither did I and, from the sound of the book, neither do most people. Although this book was fiction, it was based on very real events and left me crying on the bus into work more than once. Based simultaneously in July 1942 and 60 years later in the spring of 2002, Sarah’s Key tells the heartbreaking story of Sarah Starzynski, a 10-year-old girl who was taken with her parents as part of the Vel D’Hiv roundup and who, thinking she’d be back in time to save him, locked her younger brother in a secret closet to protect him.

Have you read any of these books and, if not, what have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments!

  • http://www.littlemisslulu.net/ Lulu

    Sarah’s Key was such an upsetting book. :( I loved it, but man if it didn’t make my heart hurt.

  • http://www.thekaridiaries.com/ Kari @ The Kari Diaries

    I don’t have the heart for books like these, which i know isn’t good. But learning about all the atrocities done to humanity throughout the years always broke my heart when I learned them in school. I’m not sure I could make it through novels about it.
    I do like this series surrounding books. I review books frequently as well and I’ve decided to do more “mass reviewing” as I like to call it, because sometimes I just don’t have enough to say about a book to fill an entire blog post. I’m excited to see what you read next!

  • http://texerin-in-sydneyland.blogspot.com.au/ TexErin

    Sarah’s Key was so emotional but so good. The last book I read the I truly loved was recommended to me by a friend, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It’s rare that I copy phrases from books, but I did with this one.