I have recently found Sandy’s blog You’ve Gotta Read This!, and I love it! We seem to have a similar taste in books, and I visit her blog daily. We decided to interview each other, to find out a bit more about the person behind the blog.
You can see her interview of me here.
1. How long have you been blogging for, and what inspired you to start?
I started blogging late last October, so I still consider myself to be a novice. I can tell you that last September, I would NEVER have imagined that I would have a blog…I was way too intimidated. My sister has one (mainly on indie and Asian film) and I’ve always been so impressed with her. In mid-October I mentioned to her that I wanted to belong to a book club, but I couldn’t find any good ones here close to where I live, and I was frustrated with the online ones I had run across. So she said “I would be so excited if you would start your own book blog, San. What do you have to lose? Even if mom and I are the only ones to read it, who cares?” I swear, I thought about it for a day, and I was seized by something that would be described as a religious fervor. My sister gave me a few tips, and off I went. And as I’m sure you can guess, I did care if only my sister and mom read it! It has become an obsession of sorts!
2. Which have been your favourite reads in your blogging history?
The Post-Birthday World – Lionel Shriver – I am obnoxious about this book. I tell everyone to read it, it made such an impression on me. Not only is Shriver an amazing author, the topic, a story about a woman who is faced with making a decision that would change her life and the delight in seeing how each option plays out, is something I know everyone has thought about at least once in their life.
Into That Darkness– Gitta Sereny – Another one that I’ve talked about no less than four or five times on my blog. I scribble the name down on slips of paper and shove them in people’s hands. It is dark, almost to the point you have to read it in small doses, but should be required reading for all mankind. Sereny, a journalist, interviews the commandant of the Treblinka death camp, and seeks to understand the why’s. The facts are ruthlessly checked and double-checked, and the truths revealed are disturbing.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – This most definitely will be one of my favorite reads for 2009. It was delightfully written, and I did not want it to end.
3. I have read some really interesting snippets about the Holocaust on your blog. Please could you let me know why this subject interests you?
The Holocaust is one of those events in history that many of us, as human beings, are naturally drawn to. It almost defies imagination how one charismatic person could lead so many otherwise normal people to commit such horrible acts, en masse, and inspire the rest to turn their heads. Adversely, stories of the strength of will and heroism under such dire circumstances are inspirational beyond words. That being said, I’ve always felt just a bit more connected to the Holocaust for a couple of reasons. First, my husband was born and raised in Poland…he immigrated to the US in the late seventies when the country was still communist, sponsored by a cousin that lived in Indiana. His family encouraged him to leave and make something of himself, to get away from the controlling grasp of communism. He has told me stories about his youth in a communistic country, his father’s leadership role in Solidarity and his grandfather that fought in WWI. But some of the most harrowing tales are of his mother’s experience in WWII, where her entire village was forced into a ghetto by the Germans (FYI, they were not Jewish). At one point, his mother, who was still very young, fell off the back of the wagon on the way to the ghetto, and was nearly shot until a neighbor pleaded for her life. At the end of the war, every single Jewish person had been killed that had lived in his mother’s village. This really hits close to home, you know? Also, because my husband’s parents and sister still live in Poland, we visit often, and have had the opportunity to visit Hitler’s bunker (the one in Valkyrie that was the location of the assassination attempt), memorials to the Warsaw uprising, and of course Auschwitz, just to name a few. There are literally hundreds of memorials of the Holocaust, abandoned bunkers, etc. strewn out all over the country. There is nothing quite as sobering as seeing all of these things in real life. The Holocaust haunts the Polish people to this day. My husband carries it around with him as well. I wouldn’t even want to try to count how many documentaries and WWII-based movies we have seen (some of them are even Polish ones that have been translated)!!
4. I often find it really hard to read about the human suffering, the Holocaust in particular. Do you think it is harder for you, as it is your husband’s ancestors who were affected?
After you read enough books and watch enough movies, it does tend to drain your energy. I have to stop after awhile! However, I would hate to claim that it affects me more than others. If anything, I just feel blessed that nothing did happen to my mother-in-law, and that I was able to eventually meet my husband. I also feel very lucky that I am able to better understand history through his eyes.
5. Can you recommend a Polish book which has a lighter subject matter?
Hmmm…well, that is a good question! I cannot speak or read fluent Polish (despite hours of beating my head against the desk trying to become one with my Rosetta Stone!) so I’ve not had many opportunities to read Polish literature. I tried once, at my husband’s suggestion, to read “Fire in the Steppe” by Henryk Sienkiewicz. It was about 17thcentury Polish swordsmen, and it bored me to death and I couldn’t finish it.
I have just finished an excellent book called “Death in Breslau” by Marek Krajewski…have a look at my review here. I wouldn’t call it light, but is the only Polish book I have finished!
Thank you for answering my questions! It has been really interesting, and I look forward to reading your blog for many years to come!