Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Book picks for Veteran's Day

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.

And since tomorrow is Veteran's Day, I thought we'd take a look at a few great books written about war. I'm not a big fan of "war" books, but there are stories that take you beyond the horrors of the fighting and show the human quality, a kind of behind the scenes look at war....

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival by Mitchell Zuckoff... From the publisher: On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search and rescue missue became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on the B-17 survived. With the weather worsening, the U.S. military launched a daring rescue mission, sending a Grumman Duck amphibious plane to find them. After picking up one member of the B-17 crew, the Duck flew into a severe storm, and the plane and the three men aboard vanished. In this thrilling, true-life adventure, Mitchell Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing crashes and the fate of the survivors and would-be saviors. He also recounts the efforts of a modern-day adventurer, Lou Sapienza, who worked for years with the Coast Guard and Commander Jim Blow to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight and recover the remains of its crew.

It amazes me sometimes the stories you never hear about until someone decides to write a book. I had never heard of this crash in this frozen wasteland, but I am so intrigued. That and the fact that the conditions were so harrowing that one rescue mission crashed and the other disappeared entirely makes this even more mysterious, and makes me want to read about what happened. This is on my TBR list! Published by Harper Collins this past April, Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival is available in HardcoverKindle Edition and Nook Book.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand... From the publisher: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Laura Hillenbrand is a fabulous writer. I absolutely LOVED her book Seabiscuit, which told the story of the racehorse with a heart, Seabiscuit, and the behind the scenes look at horse racing, which I could have cared less about, but once I opened that book I could not put it down and it still remains one of my favorite books today. Her WWII story, Unbroken, has gotten rave reviews and again tells one story that may have remained unknown to us had not someone decided to share it. This is on my TBR list. It was published in 2010 by Random House and is available in HardcoverKindle Edition and Nook book.

Night by Elie Wiesel... from the publisher: A candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel's survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Elie Wiesel's Night is a slim 148 pages, but it's not the length of the book, but the impact that the words contained in this account of being in a Nazi death camp that have made this an important piece of literature. Originally published in 2006, there is now a new translation offered in the newest edition from Macmillan, available in Paperback , Kindle Edition and Nook Book.

If you're looking for fiction, don't forget Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally, a novel based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industralist who saved more than 1000 Jews from the Nazi death camps.

**UPDATE...Fellow book blogger Booksync, who has a wonderful blog called Books in The City, shared You Know When The Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon as a recommendation for Veteran's Day reads. She writes,  "it is a collection of short stories each about life on the base when men are away fighting or just after they return. It was a really interesting perspective on the sacrifices military families make in addition to the soldier." Thank you Booksync for the recommendation! On Amazon it has earned 4 1/2 stars from over 100 reviews! Here are the links for the Paperback , Kindle Edition , and the Nook book.

Weekly Recap... This week on Chick with Books, for Memoir Monday we highlighted An American Bride in Kabul by Phyllis Chesler. The harrowing true account of falling in love and being whisked off to a foreign country, and suffering from the cultural differences. If you missed it, Here is the Link to read all about it.

And then on Thursday I put up the video made by about three dozen authors attending the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in New Orleans. the authors all read from Lane Smith's children's book, It's a Book, and then through the magic of editing, they put it all together so that each author was reading parts of the book as we followed along. Lane Smith's book is wonderful. It's a simple book about the beauty of an actual book with three friends, a Jackass, a mouse and a monkey. Jackass is internet savvy and can't quite understand how a book works, but eventually Monkey straightens him out. To watch the video, click on this link.

Book News... If you haven't heard, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is coming to the big screen! Keep your eyes open for the release in your area this month! The previews look wonderful! And the book? Well, the book was great! Here's the synopsis from School Library Journal...

"Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves." –Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

*KINDLE BARGAIN BOOK ALERT... If you haven't read the The Book Thief yet, you should! Right now, it's available on Kindle for just $2.90! Here is the link to The Book Thief to grab that bargain price! 

Do you enjoy books on war? Fiction or nonfiction? Hope you enjoy the book selections this week! And to all of our Veterans... Thank you for your service!

Happy Reading... Suzanne


Booksnyc said...

A few years ago I read You Know When the Men are Gone - it is a collection of short stories each about life on the base when men are away fighting or just after they return. It was a really interesting perspective on the sacrifices military families make in addition to the soldier. I recommend it on Veteran's Day or Memorial Day.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Booksnyc! Thanks for the recommendation! I like the idea of a short story collection. I'm going to share it on the blog.

Suzanne Yester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carla said...

I have intended to read Book Thief for a long time and just haven't picked it up.
I don't really search out books on war but I read some based on the story line. I thoroughly enjoyed Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage. And also Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton.
I think in fiction I just put it in the background of the story, and I know it's there but I'm concentrating on the characters.
I hope to get to all 3 of the other books you mentioned.

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