There must be something in the air. For the second time in three months, my book club selection had heavy Nazi influence.
I don’t mean that the person who chose the book was a Nazi or that the books were written by Nazis. But they both centered around World War II and talked a lot about Nazis in one way or another. I’ve decided that I will not read another Nazi book for at least a year, no matter what.
In June, we discussed The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s about the people (some rich, some poor) living in a small German town during the war. Some are tried and true Hitler supporters, some just go with the flow and one family even hides a Jew for a while. Death is the book’s narrator. There is very little graphic description of atrocities in the book, but I didn’t sleep for a week while reading it due to nightmares and anxiety. It was an excellent book. I highly recommend it, as long as you can take it. But after reading it, I just wanted to read something light and fun.
I thought I found “light and fun” when I started reading August’s discussion book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The author tells the entire story through letters, just like the 18th century novel Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. At first, I was dismayed. I was supposed to read Clarissa in college and the format was impossible to follow, so I never finished it. But Guernsey was different, probably because the language was far more modern. It was post-war and the characters were happy, resilient types. And then the characters begin going into detail about witnessed and experienced atrocities, both on the island of Guernsey and in concentration camps in Germany. I read the book in two days and on the second day, found myself in tears.
I believe completely in George Santayana’s statement: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I do. And I know there are people in the world who need to read these books and remember and understand. But I am not one of those people. I know what happened. I can’t say I understand it. I don’t think one can understand such things unless one is inclined that way. I am not so inclined. And because I am not so inclined, reading about it makes me a little insane.
So, while I am more than willing to read and discuss pretty much any book recommended by a fellow book club member, I am putting my foot down now and saying I will not read another World War II/Nazi book for at least a year. I just can’t take it.