Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Vietnam War Reading Challenge: My Reading List

I finally broke down and spent an hour digging to find my collection of books on the Vietnam War to set aside for the 2010 War Through the Generations challenge.  Serena and I took an honors seminar on Vietnam War literature in college, so I have quite a few books on the topic.  There were a couple that we didn't get a chance to read in class that I plan to read for the challenge, and the others I hope to re-read.  I also have a few review copies dealing with Vietnam, and I'm looking forward to reading them.

Here's my list so far; of course, I might change my mind about some books, and I definitely will be adding more books to my collection.

Fire in the Lake by Frances FitzGerald -- This is a non-fiction book that goes into a lot of detail about the politics behind the war, etc.  I only read about half of it in college, as it wasn't the most exciting read.  But a decade has come and gone since then, so I think it's worth another try.

Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann -- We're planning this for a group read somewhere in the middle of the year.  We read this one in class, and let me tell you, it's graphic, intense, and very, very good.  A realistic portrayal of a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home by Tim O'Brien -- A powerful memoir about O'Brien's experiences during the Vietnam War.

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien -- Seriously, I don't think you can go wrong with O'Brien.  This one is about a Vietnam veteran turned politician whose wife goes missing, and it turns out that he might have been involved in a massacre like My Lai. (Warning: if you don't want to see graphic images, don't click that link!)

A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler -- A collection of short stories that we never had a chance to read in class.

Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien -- I'm going to buy this one to add to my library.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien -- Another one on my to-buy list.

The Circle of Hanh by Bruce Weigl -- A memoir, which I received as a Christmas gift from Serena.  She bought a copy for herself, too, so maybe we'll do a buddy read.  (What do you think, Serena?)

The Village by F.J. West Jr. -- This was a book my sister had to read in college, and she gave it to me.  I have no idea what it's about because there's no book description, and I sort of want to go into it blindly.  I'm someone who religiously reads book jackets, so I want to try something new.

I have a few review copies:  LBJ's Hired Gun: A Marine Corps Helicopter Gunner and the War in Vietnam by John Gebhart, Days of Valor: An Inside Account of the Bloodiest Six Months of the Vietnam War by Robert Tonsetic, and The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

And finally, I plan to re-read these poetry books:

Song of Napalm by Bruce Weigl -- Weigl came to our class, read from the book, then signed our copies.

Playing Basketball With the Viet Cong by Kevin Bowen -- Bowen also came to our class and from his collection of poems.

Full Moon Boat by Fred Marchant -- Marchant was our professor for the Vietnam War course and is known as one of the first Marine conscientious objectors.

Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa

The Girl is joining us for the challenge, too, and so far, we're planning to read Shooting the Moon by Francis O'Roark Dowell together.

Do any of you have a particular book in mind that I should add to my list?


Violet said...

What an amazing list. I've always wanted to read books on Vietnam war, I'll keep these in mind :)

christa @ mental foodie said...

I am doing this challenge as well - so glad to see your list in case if I can't find something I like!

I put together a list as well:

Julie P. said...

I'm still toying with joining your challenge! I really want to but I'm worried that I might not be able to complete it!

Serena said...

Good list and some of those are on my list too, but not Fire in the Lake.

We could probably do any of those Tim O'Brien books as read-a-longs or something...LOL

I'm going to have to borrow some of your books like, The Village by F.J. West Jr.!

bermudaonion said...

I haven't made a list but do want to read The Things They Carried. Hero Mama (or After the Flag has Been Folded as it's been re-named) is a good Vietnam book. I'm sure you'll totally rock at this challenge. Good luck to you and the Girl.

Linda said...

A truly remarkable book that I read years ago and cannot recommend highly enough: What should we tell our children about Vietnam, by Bill McCloud, a HS history teacher in Oklahoma. Please look at this book. It is amazing!

christina said...

Yay for this challenge! And so stoked that The Girl is joining in. I read that O'Roark book last year - hope you two enjoy it!

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Great list! I'm so excited that people will be exposed to Tim O'Brien in 2010; he's been one of my favorite writers for about 10 years now.

Stephanie said...

This challenge looks fascinating. What a terrific list!

Iliana said...

Good luck with the challenge. You girls came up with another good one. I don't think I'll be joining as I don't really have any books that have the Vietnam war as a background or setting but I'll be looking forward to your reviews! I may add some books to my radar no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great list. I have an award for you, by the way.

Darlene said...

I didn't post a list but I'll be reading a couple that you are - Tim O'Brien's books. I also found a few at my library that sounded quite good. I would have read Paco's Story but my library doesn't carry it and I didn't really want to buy it so that's why I bowed out of that one. Hope you enjoy your picks! I look forward to your reviews.

Michele said...

One of the books I really want to tackle for this challenge is the huge non-fiction We Were Soldiers Once and Young by Moore and Galloway. I'd also like to read McNamara's biography for a better understanding of the whole thing.

Oh, and I meant to tell you, if you want a copy of O'Brien's The Things They Carried, email me your mailing address and I'll be happy to give you mine. It's a used university copy, but no markings inside and in pretty good condition! ;)

wisteria said...

Great choices. I am putting my list together. I did some yesterday so I should have it ready soon. My episode with Mystery got me all messed up.
I have 7 so far.
Good luck with your challenge!

Kristen said...

I just came up with my list as well. You can't go wrong with O'Brien. He was writer in residence for a brief time when I was in college (not the semester I took the Vietnam class, ironically enough). He came and spoke to our Creative Writing class and critiqued all of our works as well. As I recall correctly, he didn't think much of mine. ::sigh:: But he is a wonderful writer himself and The Things They Carried is very powerful.

Anna said...

~Violet: I hope you get a chance to read them, at the very least something by Tim O'Brien.

~Christa: Great! Thanks for putting together a useful list, too. I believe Serena added your titles to the recommended reading list on the challenge blog.

~Julie: Hey, don't worry about completion. We just hope people learn something from their reading on the topic.

~Serena: I don't know if I'll get through Fire in the Lake this time around. I'm not going to push myself, just give it a try.

~bermudaonion: Thanks for your vote of confidence and the book suggestion!

~Linda: I'll look into it. Thanks for the suggestion.

~christina: Glad to hear it's good. Thanks!

~A Bookshelf Monstrosity: I discovered him in college about 10 years ago. I've long wanted to read more of his books, and I'm glad to have the chance now.

~Stephanie: Thanks! I hope you'll consider joining us.

~Iliana: Thanks!

~carolsnotebook: Thanks! How kind of you!

~Dar: I look forward to reading your thoughts on Tim O'Brien. In my opinion, Paco's Story is worth buying, but maybe not if you're not as into these kinds of books.

~Michele: Thanks so much! That's so kind of you! Serena has the We Were Soldiers Once book, and I hope she'll lend it to me when she's done.

~Wisteria: I look forward to your list!

~Kristen: I've heard nothing but good things about The Things They Carried. It's neat that you got to meet him. I would've been so nervous giving him my writing to critique!