Hi! For today, we have Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally, who will be talking about how she read outside of her comfort zone, and discovered WWII! Also, as a reminder, you can comment on this post, follow Cassi via Twitter and Bloglovin, and have that all count towards entries in the event's giveaway!
Hi Everyone, I'm so excited to be a part of this World War II feature with Val at The Innocent Smiley and Ely at Tea & Titles. This is going to be such a fun event with great reviews and discussions and I'm glad to be a part of it.
If you follow my blog then you may have seen my recent post talking about how I used to have book prejudices. I know we're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but what about by it's synopsis? In the past I have been really guilty of this. Thinking I wouldn't like a book without even trying it. I know that sometimes we can be totally right, and thinking that you won't like a book and not reading it because of that. This takes things a step further and says that you write something off completely based on past experiences or never trying it before. Now I'm not a very picky reader. I read basically anything. Adult, YA, Middle Grade. It doesn't matter. I have a favorite genre but I read all genres. But there are just certain books that I tell myself I don't like and won't read. Then in 2014 I broke out of my comfort zone and tried some books I didn't think I would like. I was pleasantly surprised by so many of those. On that list of prejudices I've changed is historical fiction set in World War II.
Why I Thought I Didn't Like It
Well for one thing, I thought that they were really repetitive. It sounds terrible to say but there really are just so many books out there in the world that focus on a very specific aspect of the time period. Now don't get me wrong, I think that is a very important part of our history and we need to talk about and reflect on it and fiction is a great way of doing that. But when I'm choosing a book to read, one about the Holocaust is not going to be my first choice. Why, you ask?
Well I don't like books that are sad on purpose. I'm a crier. I can't help it, I wear my heart on my sleeve. If I were a betting woman I would guess that about 40% the books I read make me cry in some way shape or form, maybe more. And I don't read sad books! Imagine if I did, that would be an even higher percentage. So many books about the time period and set during World War II I know are going to be sad. For one thing wars usually means people are going to get killed. Death mean tears, no way around that. And for another thing, the horrors and atrocities that took place are really awful. Just thinking about identifying with a character who is going through that struggle makes me sad.
What Changed My Mind?
Good question. Well I think it was a gradual realization that there are a ton of really great books out there set during the time period. And like I mentioned in my discussion about being book prejudiced, being close-minded like that can do us a disservice as a reader. So I slowly gave more and more, usually very popular, books set during the time period a try. And I tried to disperse them throughout my reading schedule as a change of pace from my normal reads. I do themed months so doing a WWII theme is not a great idea based on my perception of the repetitive nature of the period but one within a historical fiction theme works well.
The other thing I did was focus on books that were different from my perceived idea about books from that setting. Just like any other genre or subject matter there is a lot of different kinds of books. So I read books set on the homefront, books about soldiers and spies, books set in different countries, books about events you don't often hear about. These subtle differences made me realize that the period had a lot of great historical fiction offerings. Speaking of those offerings...
Books I Read and Loved
1.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The book that started it all off for me. It's very different from most WWII books and is just a super creative book in general. It's about a British spy plane crashing in Germany and the interrogation of Verity. The characters are great and the book is so interesting
2.) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is one that I previously avoided. I knew a lot of people loved it but I also knew it was going to make me sob. It did but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth the hype.
3.) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is similar to The Book Thief so I think if you liked one you will like the other. The characters are great and it's a book on the homefront which is nice.
4.) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
I read this recently and really loved it. It's about an event during the period that I had no idea about and found heartbreaking and so engaging.
Books I Want to Read
1.) Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
I've heard good things about this one and I like that it's an alternate history kind of thing and that it's also post war but still sort of about the period.
2.) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Now that I've read some Ruta Sepetys I want to read all her books. I know lots of historical fiction fans love this one so I need to read it.
3.) Front Lines by Michael Grant
Another alternate history kind of thing. But in general I love the idea of female soldiers and think it's a different kind of WWII book.
4.) Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
I loved Code Name Verity and own a copy of this book but the Holocaust setting sort of worries me a little bit.
How do you feel about books set during World War II? Which ones do you love? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. And thanks again to Val and Ely for hosting this event and including me! I can't wait to see more of the posts coming up.