Reading Down the House – February

Another month has flown by; here’s this month’s reading.

Continuing Dar’s challenge I haven’t been too good on reading from my list of books that I want to read down. Being busy at work has meant I haven’t read all that much at all.

First book is from my list:

Emil and Hannah by Belinda Castles (and as a totally irrelevant aside, when I read the author’s name I start singing “We Got the Beat”) took me longer to read than I expected. Started last year but had to keep putting it down. Rise of Nazi Germany, WWII, treatment of unionists and Jews. Enough said. You know it is going to be sad. And this period of history makes me quite ill. So it was not the book’s fault that I faltered through this. Just such a horrendous period! Man’s inhumanity and all that.

When it came to the Dunera Boys story, I cried. Had to put the book down. We are inured, though not immune, to the horrors that the Nazis did to other humans. But when we read of the horrible treatment inflicted by the Allies to civilians, and to those who actually opposed Hitler, it just makes for uncomfortable reading. The Dunera story is, as Churchill said, deplorable.

The book is an epic, spanning decades and continents. Love, human dignity and human desire to make this world a better place win out. A great read.

When times are stressful, do you have a comfort read? A book you turn to for a bit of escape? One that is quick and easy to read?

One of my comfort reads is any of the Little House books. OK, they are written for little children, but that makes them so easy to read. I’ve read them all many times. My first set fell apart so I bought a new box set last year.

One rainy Sunday this month I read Little House in the Big Woods. I love the idea of self-sufficiency but know it is bloody hard work. And I love to fall asleep to the image of being snowed in – never having been snowed in, like never being self-sufficient, I can take the image without the pain of hard work.

Is there anyone who hasn’t read Laura Ingalls Wilder? Mmmm. The other Little House books are calling me but I need to get into my book club book and my Reading Down the House list. (The box set is like The Ring from the Hobbit – I can feel its power calling me, physically.)

And the last book this month was my book club book: Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson. What a lovely book! Reading it on a train trip this month, I had to put it down, as the tears started to well up.

What’s to love about this book? The gentle sadness. Mr Wigg’s love for his wife, his family, his grandchildren, his trees. The descriptions of fruit trees – I learnt a lot, and as you know, I love learning new things quite incidentally while reading fiction. The lyrical style. The descriptions of the creative force.

Just beautiful. A sweet tale. Jo, if you’re still dropping by, I think you will love this book.



7 thoughts on “Reading Down the House – February

  1. I really like your book reviews, L. The first book sounds very heavy going. I didn’t know about the Dunera incident, strangely enough.

    I like the question about ‘comfort reads.’ I read Young Adult fiction to wind down. I’ve also read and re-read “Alive” by Piers Paul Read.

    • There was a miniseries on TV, The Dunera Boys, a few years ago about the Dunera “shipment”. Not a pretty incident in British history. Amazing that they forgave their treatment and many of them went on to support the Allies’ war effort, many of them being scientists etc that had escaped from Germany as they were Jewish, with a few unionists and political opponents of the Nazis. The novel does have a lot more than the Dunera. Moments of joy with lots of sadness.

      I have never read Alive. Survival stories are too scary for me. And too long winded. Give me the magazine article length version.

  2. I ADORE the Little House books. They are one of the few books I will reread. As a result of those books, I tried to talk my parents into “pioneer days” several times as a child (you know, no electricity, no newfangled machines, etc. – sounds lovely, no?). And I was always indignant when they’d say no. They were obviously killjoys. I vowed to have one every week as a adult . . and have had exactly 0 since moving out. I wonder why . . ?

    Gotta love the thought processes of 8 year olds. 🙂

    • Is this daggy? One of the reasons I want to visit the US is to see the places in the Little House books; to do a tour of them and retrace her steps! I sooo wanted an attic bed like in the TV series.

      • That sounds cool. There’s a book about a woman who did that, My Life as Laura. And out west, there are reenactment trips/sites where people pay to pretend they’re a pioneer for a certain amount of time. I’d do it 🙂

  3. I just looked up the Dunera story, too – how sad! Locally, our immigration museum shows that ships of Jewish refugees were simply turned away from ports all along the east coast of North America and refused permission to land. Several had to turn back to Europe which resulted in their capture and deaths 😦

    The go-to re-readable comfort book for most of my generation was Anne of Green Gables and its sequels. For me, though, I like to go back to earlier childhood and read Winnie the Pooh or Paddington!

    • Love Anne too, but never got past the first couple of books. I just re-read all the Pooh books this summer. I do love the Paddington Bear sensibilities and might just re-read them too when I need some more comfort reading.

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