Apr 19, 2012

the.book.chat. {historical book}

My second favorite topic in school (after English, of course) was always History.  There's something therapeutic about listening to a good History lecture.  I don't know what it is.  It's kinda like story time in a way, isn't it.
So of course, the marriage of the two (lit & history) is exactly my slice of pie.  Placing a fictional story within a prominent historical setting is just so fascinating to me.

Some of my favorite historical fictions include:
The Help by Katherine Stockett
Outlander (series) by Diana Gabaldon
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

But since today, April 19, is Holocaust Remembrance Day I really want to focus on this specific event in history.  I don't know why, but I have always been drawn to literature written in/about this era.  Writing about the Holocaust, in a fictional sense, is a tricky business.  If you weren't there, and you're not getting the story first hand from someone else, you're treading on very thin ice.  You have to get it right in so many ways without coming across as condescending, insensitive or superficial.  I mean, how can you write a book that will live up to it's topic?
There are two that I felt went above and beyond.

1. Maus by Art Spiegelman

Technically, it's not fiction because it's the story of the author's parents' time in concentration camps.  I'm telling you right now, if you haven't read Maus, you need to.  It's a two-part graphic novel about the Nazi occupation of Poland in which the Nazis are portrayed as cats and the Jews as mice.  Okay, stop for a moment and ponder that.  What I appreciate most about this graphic novel is that you can very obviously see this man's struggle: the broken relationship with his father, the loss of his mother, the tragedy of the whole story he must interpret and how he uses the only medium he knows to portray it all and it's catastrophically flawless.  At one point, he literally breaks the fourth wall and draws himself drawing the novel and shares his struggle with the reader. It really shows how the Holocaust not only affected the direct victims but the generations to follow.  Artistically mind blowing and amazing.

2. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Surely, I'm not the first one to tell you about this book. I read this book 3 years ago and I can still remember it all.  It has never left me.  In case you don't know anything about it, it's basically a story about a girl living in WWII Germany with a foster family who adopts/hides a Jewish man in the basement.  But honestly, it's not about the story.  It's all in the narration, the creative character building, the artistic story weaving.  Zusak is a wordsmith and storyteller of the highest degree.  He takes a sad (SAD) story and makes it...tender, humble, honest, sarcastic, realistic, loving, and beautiful all while remaining historically accurate.  I mean...the narrator.  The narrator, people!  (don't know who the narrator is?  well then I guess you need to read it. now.)  I appreciate this book because it's about one of the most dismal moments in our history, but it doesn't just make you sad like so many others do.  It does so much more.  The Book Thief exhibits a genuine account of history while making you feel compassionate adoration for the characters (even the narrator) and forever you will remember that history is not just about mankind, but humanity.

I guess that's what is so great about historical fiction in itself.  It makes history more intriguing; it brings it to life.  We can relate to characters in a story more than figures in a text book.  Just because it's fiction doesn't mean there isn't something important to learn historically.  If/When I become a teacher, I hope to teach some English/History hybrid class because I just can't think of a better way to teach either subject.  They're just made for each other.

Can't wait to see what you all have this week!

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Next weeks prompt: Share the best fictional friendship.  BFF, get it?  Share your favorite plutonic duo, trio, gang, posse, etc.  Perhaps Frodo and Samwise?  Or Harry, Hermoine and Ron? (look at me making a HP reference)  It could be a friendship you wish you were apart of or one you feel closely resembles your own.   As usual, anything goes.
{This prompt was suggested by Erinn of It's a Journey in like the first week of the book chat.  Sorry I'm just now getting to it Erinn.  Thanks for the suggestion!}
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7 comments:

Caitlin said...

I love both of those books. I read MAUS in fourth grade when we studied the Holocaust and was totally disturbed by what I read. I read them again in high school and college and was still disturbed, just in a different way. So, so so good.

Kate @ Daffodils said...

I feel like "The Book Thief" has been coming up a lot lately. I had never heard of it. Will defininitely need to check it out next library trip!

Molly said...

I just found your blog and LOVE the idea of this link-up. I am a huge book lover and adore talking about books and getting recommendations.

imlivinginadream said...

So I literally came home fast fast so that I could write up my post (delayed, because of school and whatnot) AND LITERALLY those are two of the books that will be on my list too. I think they are 2 of the most well written, influential, and important books to read about the Holocaust. Ok! I will try to go write mine now & link up later tonight! I'm late, booooo school :(

imlivinginadream said...

Okay so, yeah I didn't join in again this week. I'm so sad to have missed two in a row! School just takes a priority and my stress levels have skyrocketed this week so I just haven't been blogging.

NEXT WEEK THOUGH I'M BACK. Also, I was curious if I'd actually written a post about my fave Holocaust lit or not and I have, so I'm going to just share that with you again here, even though you've already seen it I think.

Also, I realized that I haven't read ANY historical fiction since last semester when I took a class about the Holocaust. As much as I enjoyed the course I think it was just an overdose of morbid. But there are a few more out there I wanna read. Okay here was the post:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/theatre/VIDEO+Cirque+Soleil+unveils+Amaluna/6412822/story.html

imlivinginadream said...

That was absolutely the wrong link... LMAO.

This is what I meant to post

http://imlivinginadream.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/holocaust-literature/

I'll stop hogging your comment space now.

Katie Price said...

I've always been drawn towards reading anything Holocaust related too. I loved the Book Thief, but have never heard of Maus (strange!). I will definitely add that to my list. The first novel in this genre I read was The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, and it is still my favorite.

{found your blog through KC, she's a sweetheart!}

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