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