"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

First Quarter of 2012, Vacation, March Books

This month started with me and Andrew in Germany. Actually we traveled to Austria on the first, but we were in southern Germany until the morning of March 7. You'd think with all the time we had in the air (over ten hours just from Munich to Atlanta and then a short flight to Raleigh), I would have read lots. But I didn't read AT ALL. In fact, I only read a few pages the whole time we were gone and that was on the flight to Munich.  I did do something I rarely do. Watched a couple movies!  Andrew saw where Puss in Boots was offered on our little plane TVs and he wanted me to see it. He and Michael had watched it twice and he wanted me to enjoy it as well. So I watched it - and then another movie.  I watched Napoleon Dynamite on the way to Germany.  Fun times. 

So anyway, I got home from Germany and had to catch up on reading blog posts I'd missed from all my favorite bloggers. I also had to unpack, do laundry, visit my nephews (and kiss them!), divvy out souvenirs I'd bought for the family, get used to the six-hour time difference again...in other words, I didn't read much when we first got home.  And when I did get back into a reading mood, I was interested in books on World War II and Germany. Go figure.  Samer finally got me interested in something besides reading about Islam, Muslims and Arabs!

Can you believe three months of 2012 are now over?  I hope you've had a wonderful first quarter of the year!  Did anything exciting happen so far? We went to Germany (Nuremberg, W├╝rzburg, Bamberg, Munich), Austria (Salzburg, St. Gilgen, Mondsee) and the Czech Republic (Prague).  A fantastic trip.  Could not have asked for better weather or a more incredible host!!  Also we went last weekend to Myrtle Beach with Michael.  Two great trips!

In other news, Michael turned 10 (which I noted in February) and Zach will soon be a year. 

On to those books now ...

March Books

The Nazi Officer's Wife
by Edith Hahn Beer -- an interesting tale of how a Jewish woman survived the Holocaust by reinventing herself as "a proper German woman";  the Nazis were really good to THEIR women: they wanted them to breed many more pure Aryans so they treated them well (if you like being treated as good breeding material, I guess.)  good book to read after coming home from Germany

The Great Starvation Experiment by Todd Tucker  -- I really enjoyed this book much more than expected!  So interesting!

"In 1974, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of America estimated that about 70 percent of approved drugs had at some point been tested on prisoners.  With each disclosure, the public became less trusting of science and scientists. ... While the doctors maintained that their research was both necessary and ethical, the public couldn't help but notice that the test subjects almost always seemed to be among society's most vulnerable, like poor southern blacks, retarded children, the elderly, and the incarcerated." (pg. 197)

A few conclusions from the Great Starvation Experiment -- Keys noted that it "more closely duplicated anorexia than it did wartime starvation, in that conditions other than food intake, such as cleanliness and accessibility of medical care, were 'normal.'"  Plus there were no bombs flying over their heads like in war zones!   Also in terms of starvation "women seemed more durable than men" - this "data came from across the globe and was remarkably consistent."  Keys would later say this was the most significant finding of the study:  "The human body was very, very tough."  "Keys concluded that the human body was supremely well equipped to deal with starvation."  The mind, it seemed "surrendered first" yet still most of the men who started the experiment came out stronger than ever.  All went on to receive college degrees; among them they became college professors, school teachers, a college dean, an ambassador ...  (from pgs. 182 and 192)

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman -- If you like World War II stories, animals and learning a bit about life in occupied Warsaw, you should read this book. I appreciated learning about the animals and even the Nazi appreciation for some (did you realize they were trying to reestablish extinct animals that were native of their region?).  This book has some humor, lots of bravery and interesting facts about Poland.  I appreciate the many brave Polish people who helped others.  Oh yeah, the zookeepers in this book hid Jews at the zoo. 

Ridiculous Packaging by Karen Favreau -- I saw this 142-page book in the biography section of my local library. I saw the author had briefly worked in the local library system and thought the other title of the book - Or, my long, strange journey from atheist to Episcopalian, in two acts - made it seem a bit more interesting. Especially since I read a book earlier this year about an Episcopalian who basically lost her faith. Weird how that works. So I read this while we were at the beach, made a mental note to google the author (to see if I recognized her) and found out she's dead!  Died of ovarian cancer in July 2010 at the age of 41.  (The book was published in 2005.)  In the book, she told how she'd grown up Catholic in Massachusetts and later abandoned her faith. She lived a pretty hard life during her college years, and later - gradually - came back to faith while living in North Carolina of all places. She went to UNC-Greensboro, worked briefly in my county (which is why I decided to see if I recognized her) and for a longer time with the neighboring public library system.  I enjoyed her book and am sorry to read that she is now dead.  (By the way, I did recognize her.)

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder -- the story of Deo, a Tutsi from Burundi, as he flees genocide in his country, arrives in New York City with $200 and speaking no English.  Quite an inspiring book. I enjoyed reading about Deo's first days and months in the United States and what obstacle he encountered.  It made me more and more want to look out for strangers in my midst, especially ones who need friends and help.  May my eyes be open to those in need like Deo.  I am amazed by those willing to help - thank God for caring hearts.

What They Didn't Teach You About World War II by Mike Wright -- I found this at the library and really enjoyed many fascinating stories about WWII. The author covered such things as rationing, the role of women, the Holocaust, the treatment of POWs, the first nuclear test, submarines, weapons, censorship and much much more. I had fun sharing some of these things on Facebook as "any guesses" questions and trivia.


sanil said...

I'm so amazed by how many books you get through. Thanks for sharing about them!

This year is going by really fast. I have had a good three months. :) I hope you have too.

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Becky said...

Like Sanil I'm - as always - amazed at how many books you manage to get through!

The Nazi Officer's Wife: I'm glad that you agree that being "treated good" might be a truth with modifications when you are still being treated as breeding stock - but at the time definitely better than getting sent to the camps. I'm not sure if you've read about how Aryan women would actually get medals for having more children!

Ridiculous Packaging: So sad to find out she's dead :( Interesting story though!

Strength in What Remains: Sounds very inspirational. I always wonder if I'd have what it takes to help, how often we just pass by people, not daring to take a chance, or automatically writing them off without ever knowing who they are, or why they are in the situation they're in.

Susanne said...

Sanil, I'm hoping your next 3 months are even better! :)

Becky, actually I didn't realize Aryan women were so prized until I read this book. But I guess if you are trying to repopulate the planet with Aryan people, they are needed and should be rewarded for their child-bearing capabilities!

Sarah Familia said...

Would The Zookeeper's Wife be appropriate as a read-aloud for children? My seven-year-old's career ambition is to work at the zoo, and she's also conceived a recent interest in WWII.

Susanne said...

Your kids always seem wise beyond their years. How much do you shield them from horrors of the world because this was an ugly time in Poland and many of the animals were bombed and/or shot to death and otherwise mistreated by the Germans - and the author notes how awful it was to hear this because she loved her animals? On the other hand, it's great how she relates to them and cares for them and how her son had many zoo animals as pets. (Some of whom were also killed by Nazi soldiers.)

Maybe you could browse this and get an idea of the style of the book -- http://www.amazon.com/The-Zookeepers-Wife-War-Story/dp/039333306X#reader_039333306X

and see what you think. I found it at my local library so yours may have it. Read a chapter or two and see if it seems OK for your kids.

Candice said...

I'm so out of it with books. You're so good to read so many! What I "took" from your post was that the Puss in Boots movie was good (at least to Andrew and Michael) so I watched it with Nora after reading your post. LOL

We liked it :)

Susanne said...

Ha...that's funny! I'm glad you liked it. :)

Oh, if I had small kids, I don't think I would ever read. When I have Zach here, I can only read during his naps, but usually I'm online reading blogs or Facebook! :D