I have not been reading terribly prolifically since Lent ended and I’ve been able to go back to gaming and Facebooking, plus my wee one is ever more on the move and more and more to keep up with. Add that to new activities, and I’m probably pretty lucky I’ve done any reading at all!
I did finish one challenge book and wanted to comment on this month’s book club book as well!
For my Twenty-Ten challenge “pick your own category”, I chose books on addiction. I decided to start out reading Terry Williams’s Crackhouse: Notes from the End of the Line, since it was pretty short. Well, short it may have been, but man did it take me FOREVER to read. Terry Williams apparently had already written a book about the dealers in NYC and what their lives were like, so he decided to go to the demand side and see what it was like in a crack house, looking at the lives of the users. The house he selected was run by a guy named Headache, who at some point was quite successful as a businessman, and whose friends in the business world were still attempting to pull him out of the crackhouse, get him clean and sober, and help him get back to work and being a respectable business and family man. In addition, Williams profiles several other members of the crackhouse “family” and what they do to get high, including unsafe sex.
I really did not care for this book at all. I thought it was just totally boring. It was dry and dull and hard to read from my perspective. I didn’t care a thing about any of the “characters” in the book, and I just wanted to get to the end as quickly as possible. I gave it 1 star on Goodreads.
On the other hand, this month my book club read Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. This is a book that has been languishing on my “to be read” shelf for at least a year and a half, if not longer. I was really excited to be able to get to it, especially when I started it. Now, I was sick all last week, I’ve been sick now for 10 days. But the first day I wasn’t feeling well happened to be the day I started reading this book. My excuse the next day for staying up till 2AM was that I wasn’t able to breathe when I laid down, but in actuality, this book was so compelling, I read until I literally could not keep my eyes open any longer.
The story details Anna and Trudy. Anna is a young woman living outside a concentration camp in Germany, who does what she needs to do to survive and provide for her daughter during WWII, namely taking up with a high ranking SS officer whose eye she has caught when he comes to the bakery where she works one day. After the war, she marries an American GI and leaves Germany for good, refusing to answer any of Trudy’s questions, despite the fact that Trudy has a good many questions about her past. Trudy, who is now a college professor, begins interviewing German citizens to find out what their experience of the war was, and eventually is able to get some answers about who she is, who her mother is and what she did, and help her mother come to grips with her own fears and guilt about the past.
In book club, I think everyone liked the book, although with varying degrees of liking it. I found it compelling and exciting and interesting and horrifying by turns, and while I have no desire to read it or any other Holocaust-related books for quite some time now, I have to say that this is one of very few five star reads from the past year. I’m going to count it as one of my TBR selections so that I can get another one off the list. That has me having read 6 out of 20 books on that challenge for the year. Hooray! I’m getting there for sure.