Archive | December, 2013

#26 All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

8 Dec
All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

Goodreads rating: 3.81/5 (128K+ ratings)

My rating: 8/10

First published: 29th January 1929

Genre: Historical Fiction, War

This book is not very long. It’s less than 300 pages and is broken up into short chapters, which makes it super quick to get through. It’s from the perspective of an early 20s man called Paul Bäumer, who is a German soldier who is convinced by his teacher, along with the rest of his classmates, to join the German army at the start of WWI. It details his experiences, along with his best friends’, on the front line, in training, and on leave.

I’ve read quite a few books that are set during wars, and whilst all are quite sad, none have ever got to me as much as this one. The level of detail about how Paul is feeling while sitting in the trenches on the front line, cowering from the shelling, and watching friends die while he starves, is incredible and devastating.

It was weird reading this knowing it was from a German soldiers perspective for two reasons – a) because I’ve never read a wartime book that was from a German’s perspective and b) I feel like I should be ‘going for’ the other side when reading these sorts of books as my Grandfather fought in WWII for the English side, and I’ve always felt like I should ‘go’ for England. Yet reading this book you totally forget that you’re reading about a German soldier. It feels like it could be any soldier in any war, and I felt sad for him regardless.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It’s pretty raw, and it gave me more insight into war (which was devastating). The book is well written, and the ending is just right.

Notable quotes

We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers – we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals.

When we went to the District Commandant to enlist, we were a class of twenty young men, many of whom proudly shaved for the first time before going to the barracks. We had no definite plans for our future. Our thoughts for a career and occupation were as yet of too unpractical a character to furnish any scheme of life. We were still crammed with vague ideas which gave to life, and to the war also, an ideal and almost romantic character. 

The soldier is on friendlier terms than other men with his stomach and intestines. Three-quarters of his vocabulary is derived from these regions, and they give an intimate flavor to expressions of his greatest joy as well as of his deepest indignation.

But the shelling is stronger than everything. It wipes out the sensibilities, I merely crawl still deeper in the coffin, it should protect me, and especially as Death himself lies in it too.

In the branches dead men are hanging. A naked soldier is squatting in the fork of a tree, he still has his helmet on, otherwise he is entirely unclad. There is only half of him sitting up there, the top half, the legs are missing.

“It’s queer, when one thinks about it,” goes on Kropp, “we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who’s in the right?” 

-H-

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WWW Wednesday

4 Dec

W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. 

TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

_________________________________________________________________________________

What are you currently reading?

I am just about to start And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini tonight! One of my favourite books of all time is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Hosseini so I’m really excited to read his latest, as I also loved The Kite Runner too.

And The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

What did you recently finish reading? 

I’ve finished three books since my last WWW WednesdayA Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque which I will be reviewing later this week. Take a look at the other 2 reviews to see what I thought of those.

A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next book on my list is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I’ve heard so many amazing things about this book so I can’t wait to read it.

thebookthief
I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these books, although no spoilers please for the ones I haven’t read yet!

-H-

#25 A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

4 Dec
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

Goodreads rating: 3.73/5 (438K+ ratings)

My rating: 5/10

First published: April – November 1859

Genre: Historical Fiction, Classics

The end was good!

I could almost leave the review at that. It took me FOREVER (as in 4 months) to read. Which for me is a very long time. I don’t think it’s taken me that long to read a book ever in my life. This was a) my first of the Classics that i’ve ever read, and b) my first Dickens novel.

Set in London and Paris, before and during the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities revolves mainly around a Doctor, Dr Manette, his daughter Lucie, her husband Charles Darnay, and barrister Sydney Carton. It literally is a tale of two cities involving these protagonists. The opening line is a very famous one, i’m sure you’ve heard it (even I had!)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

I found it really difficult to read for the first 3 quarters. I found out later that this is probably because the 45 chapters of A Tale of Two Cities were originally published in 31 weekly instalments. Which makes sense as the whole story – up until the last third – feels really disjointed. I couldn’t remember who was who, and it wasn’t until quite a way into the book that you found out how people are connected. I think I’ll need to re-read it one day now that I know the ending, which will probably make the rest of the book more enjoyable.

From what I’ve heard as I’ve been moaning to various friends, family members, and colleagues about how long it was taking me to read this book, this was not the best Dickens to start with. Many people have told me that Great Expectations is a better Dickens story – and I currently have that sitting on my shelf to read in about 10 books time!

Even though I gave this a 5/10 I would still recommend the story. The ending is absolutely perfect, and I’d recommend you read it solely for that reason.

Notable quotes

She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always. – Doctor Manette

The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.

I am desperate. I don’t care an English Twopence for myself. I know that the longer I keep you here, the greater hope there is for my Ladybird.  – Miss Pross

Far and wide lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but desolation. Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade of grain, was as shrivelled and poor as the miserable people.

Death is Nature’s remedy for all things, and why not Legislation’s? Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and sixpence was put to Death; the holder of a horse at Tellson’s door, who made off with it, was put to Death.

-H-

Teaser Tuesday

3 Dec

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: I am finally reading something new after 4 months, so finally have a new teaser! Currently reading All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. I’ve almost finished (I’m up to page 166/200), and so far i’ve loved this book. It has made me laugh, and also has almost brought me to tears. My teaser is from page 186.

It is this attitude that makes Tjaden gulp down his pea-and-ham soup as fast as he can when an enemy attack has been reported, because he doesn’t know whether he will still be alive in an hour’s time. We have had long discussions on whether this is the right thing to do or not.

All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

-H-

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