Monday, August 6, 2012

Vacation Books

Even though I have been home from vacation for nearly a week now, I figured I'd still share with ya'll my book schedule over the course of our 13-day trip.  We went from Ohio to Washington, D.C., to Pennsylvania and back home to our boring state.  We stopped at my grandparents on the way out and, my Papa being really in to History (gee, I wonder where my dad and I get it?) and having lived through all my favorite decades, I always enjoy looking through the books they have available at their home.  I grabbed a book that looked interesting (and familiar) mainly because I couldn't find the two books I swear I'd grabbed before leaving.  While in D.C., I bought four more books.  I'm set for a few more weeks yet.
Before vacation, the last book I'd finished was Shirley Temple's autobiography and I was having a hard time finding something that matched the awesome of this book.  So I grabbed a book that's been on my shelf for quite some time now and...what I've read is okay.  So far.  (I'm not very far in.)  Here are the books I brought along on vacation:
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the 99 Steps
  • The Great Escape
  • Wreck this Journal
  • Rutka's Notebook
  • Edith's Story
  • Alicia: My Story
The first is that book that's been on my shelf for ages (or so it seems).  I'm really only about 10 or 20 pages in.  To be honest, I'm reading it just because I know there's a movie out there, and I really prefer to read the books first.
The second: don't laugh.  I like my Nancy Drew and I borrowed a handful from my grandma a few years ago and I've only ever read a few.  I wanted a good mystery, especially since I'd been accustomed to seeing a few episodes of Psych every day.  I've yet to start this one...
The Great Escape is the book I picked up from my granny and papa's.  Yes, I grabbed it because I recognized the title.  On top of that, it's a book about WWII and Lord knows I read so little on the actual war portion.  Again, I'm only a few pages in; I'm not big on war/fighting books.  Of course, this (for those who have not seen the Steve McQueen movie, like me) is more about a bunch of men and their any attempted escapes from Nazi POW camps.  The whole concept sounds cool.  I just have to get myself into it.
Wreck this Journal is a fun book I bought from the International Spy Museum in D.C..  If you haven't already, head on over there.  Talk about the coolest museum EVER.  I bought it because my friend, Ari, has the same book but in German.  (She was one of our foreign exchange students last year.)  Seeing her destroy a book looked really fun and a great way to relieve stress.  So there goes ten bucks.
These last three are the fact that I have no control over myself when I see books about the Holocaust.  I spent at least $30 and that was with lowered prices, thank GOD.
I learned about Rutka Laskier around May last year when I was fixing up my English 1 final project.  I was on a mini-quest to find her book, Rutka's Notebook, for a couple of weeks.  It donned on me that the Holocaust Museum in D.C. had to have it.  And that just happened to be the number one thing I wanted to see in D.C..  It took me three different locations in the museum to find this book.  I have to say: I was a bit disappointed in how the book turned out.  Rutka is coined "The Polish Anne Frank."  I don't know about the rest of you, but when I think of that I think of the style of writing; Anne Frank was a very mature writer.  Rutka?  Not so much.  Currently I'm at a loss as to why she is even called that, unless they are talking about the fact that she was most wrongfully murdered at such a young age.  The whole book is set up somewhat strangely as well.  Her diary (kept when she was in a Polish ghetto) is only about 60 pages long, so the other 50 pages are filled with background information on ghettos, Rutka's half-sister's finding of Rutka and her quest to find more about her, and some other information.  In the back there is a bibliography of Holocaust recounts.  A couple sound really good.
I read Edith's Story next.  (Yes, I'm reading these three by size.)  This one was much better.  Unlike Rutka, Edith (spoiler!) survives the war.  She and her brother, Jules, decide to go into hiding in order to avoid being transported.  Her other brother, Guus, had been sent off to live in America earlier in the book.  Before Guus was sent off to America, Edith lived with her brothers Guus and Jules, her father, her mother, and her maternal grandmother, Oma.  Only Edith and Guus survived the war.  It's really such a great, touching story. You truly suffer and feel for Edith.
Lastly, my favorite of the three: Alicia: My Story.  This story is so...fabulous.  Alicia is Polish, like Rutka.  However, what Alicia and her family go through is horrible.  While Rutka's family was all kept together in their first ghetto, Alicia's was not.  The opening paragraph to the book tells you everyone's fate right off the bat:
First they killed my brother Moshe...
Then they killed my father...
Then they killed my brother Bunio...
Then they killed my brother Zachary...
Then they killed my last brother, Herzl.
Only my mother and I were left.
The book is so engrossing.  I'm halfway through.  In 1944, everyone finally believes that Poland has been liberated and the war is over for them.  The exiled Jews had slowly started to trickle back in and BAM.  The Germans come back.  Freedom was so close, not only for Alicia, but also for the reader.  To have that freedom ripped away, no matter if you lived it or are reading it, was horrible.  Alicia is but thirteen and she'd already escaped death so many times and helped so many people.  This is, by far, one of the best Holocaust books I have read.  Personally, I would refer to Alicia as the Polish Anne Frank, not Rutka.

So with school starting in just nine days, I've got a book or two to keep me busy (if my hectic schedule doesn't take care of that.)  Hopefully I won't burst into tears while I'm reading instead of paying attention in Chemistry...


  1. I'm almost 21, but I still cant get enough of Nancy Drew. She has been my guilty pleassure since I was 10.

    1. Haha, I love Nancy Drew! Always a great series to fall back on when there's nothing else to read. :)