Friday, January 1, 2010

War Through The Generations 2009 WWII Reading Challenge: Completed

The first reading challenge that Serena and I hosted at War Through the Generations ended yesterday, and I want to thank the more than 100 participants who chose to read World War II books with us in 2009 for helping to make it a big success.  At the beginning of 2009, I had planned to make it a personal goal to focus a large part of my reading on WWII, and after discussing it with Serena, we thought it would be fun to create a resource for war-related books and host a different war-themed reading challenge each year.  After one year, we've collected hundreds of WWII book reviews from all over the Web and amassed a list of hundreds of WWII books to provide a starting point for interested readers.  I'd like to thank each and every one of you who've contributed in some way to these lists.  Although the site will focus on Vietnam books in 2010 (and we hope you'll join us; more information here), we will continue to add to these lists and hope you'll continue to use them as a resource.

Apparently, I couldn't get enough of this challenge, and I completed 32 books!  Here's my list with links to my reviews:

1.  10 Days: Anne Frank by David Colbert
2.  Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas
3.  The Holocaust: The Nazis Seize Power, 1933-1941 by Stuart A. Kallen
4.  Keeping Hannah Waiting by Dave Clarke
5.  An Obsolete Honor: A Story of the German Resistance to Hitler by Helena P. Schrader
6.  Coventry by Helen Humphreys
7.  Memory by Philippe Grimbert
8.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
9.  A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal
10.  Bloody Good by Georgia Evans
11.  Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
12.  Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel
13.  The Seventh Well by Fred Wander
14.  T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte
15.  The Wave by Todd Strasser
16.  The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst
17.  Our Longest Days: A People's History of the Second World War edited by Sandra Koa Wing
18.  Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli
19.  The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
20.  He Was My Chief: The Memoirs of Adolf Hiter's Secretary by Christa Schroeder
21.  Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson
22.  The Apple: Based on the Herman Rosenblat Holocaust Love Story by Penelope J. Holt
23.  Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with Rita Lurie
24.  Fire in the Hills by Donna Jo Napoli
25.  Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino
26.  The Sentinels: Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman
27.  Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen
28.  The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
29.  Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
30.  The Sky Rained Heroes: A Journey From War to Remembrance by Frederick E. LaCroix
31.  Night by Elie Wiesel
32.  Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French

The Girl also participated in the WWII reading challenge, and while she'd hoped to read 5 books and officially complete the challenge, she read 4, which I think is awesome for a 9-year-old.

1.  10 Days: Anne Frank by David Colbert
2.  The Holocaust: The Nazis Seize Power, 1933-1941 by Stuart A. Kallen
3.  T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte
4.  Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French


Choosing my top 5 was difficult because I read a lot of good ones, and all of the Holocaust memoirs in particular are important.  But here's my list:

5.  Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson -- An engaging, action-packed story of the Belgian resistance

4.  An Obsolete Honor: A Story of the German Resistance to Hitler by Helena P. Schrader -- A detailed novelization of the Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler

3.  He Was My Chief: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler's Secretary by Christa Schroeder -- An inside glimpse of the man who was Adolf Hitler

2.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows -- A charming epistolary novel that is realistic in its portrayal of the people of Guernsey during the Nazi occupation without being too depressing

1.  Night by Elie Wiesel -- A heartbreaking story of one Holocaust survivor's time in the concentration camps

That's a year of WWII reading in a nutshell.  And considering that I still have dozens of WWII books on my shelves, I expect to read more in the coming year.

What's your favorite WWII book?


Alyce said...

Congratulations on reading so many books for this challenge! It's so hard to pick a favorite WWII book. I think it would be a tie between The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.

Literary Feline said...

I am so glad you and Serena decided to create the War Through the Generations Challenges. And I'm pleased it's been such a big success!

Congratulations on completing this challenge--and for doing so with style! Thirty-one books is amazing.

Your daughter did very well too--give her my congratulations!

She said...

Congrats on reading so many! I am always amazed at how many different stories there are about the Holocaust/WWII. My two favorites specifically about the Holocaust would have to be Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo-- it's the memoir of a woman prisoner who was interred because of her help with the French Resistance. It's pretty heavy, of course, and splits some of the stories with poems.

The other would have to be Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The book tells of his story in the camps and how he came up with his psychological therapy, logotherapy. Being a psych major made this a favorite ;p

Have you read either of them?

Blodeuedd said...

You sure read a lot of books, congrats on completing.

I agree with Guernsey, that one was great, and I did like David Benioffs book too. So you can say I really liked almost every WWII book I read this year

Sandy Nawrot said...

I loved all my challenges, but this one had a special place in my heart. I think it was the first one I finished. You really hit it out of the park girl! I would wholeheartedly agree with your first two books, but I wasn't all that thrilled with Night of Flames. Doesn't it drive you mad knowing how many other great WWII books are out there?

bermudaonion said...

Congratulations to you and The Girl! (The Girl continues to impress me, I must say!) Vance read Night in high school and has been telling me for years that I should read it - it looks like he's right.

Kaye said...

The Girl did great!!! Totally awesome.

I liked the Night of Flames a lot too. Great book. Thank you for all the work you and Serena did on this challenge. you both rock!

Serena said...

WOW! 32 books! That's a lot. Congrats.

Iliana said...

Congratulations on finishing and hosting such a great challenge. I really regretted not joining but have been adding books to my wish list after reading so many reviews.

Good luck with the new challenge!

Mari said...

Wow, Anna! You did amazing. 32 books! Think you will get this much read this coming year?

Corinne said...

Fantastic, friend. Really, you have done an amazing thing with that challenge - what a great resource! I love that you had the Girl participate, I should see if mine wants to join me for a challenge!

I think, for me, The Book Thief was one of the most powerful Holocause books I've read. I also loved The Zookeeper's Wife :)

Kailana said...

I should have joined this challenge! You read a lot of great books. :)

wisteria said...

Congratulations on reading 32 books!!! Awesome!!!

Alas...I didn't complete the challenge. However, I did read quite a few. In fact, I don't think I reviewed all of them. I know I didn't. I'm so bad. Guernsey was one of my favorites and I didn't review it. I might reread it in 2010 and post a review. I will be joining your new "Wars" challenge. I hope you will let me as I failed miserably. I hope to do much better in 2010. Too much stuff got in the way this year. I'm better now.
Congratulations again. Great accomplishment!!!

wisteria said...

PS....I'm going to save your list of books. I think it is a great list to have and choose from. Thanks.

Stephanie said...

This is a wonderful list! I love the way you included an eclectic mix of kids', YA, and adult reading. What did you think of the movie Inglorious Basterds?

Marg said...

I am so pleased to see you rate Night of Flames so high. I thought it was a really good read too. Guernsey was one of my favourite reads for 2008.

Thanks again for cohosting such a great challenge.

Wanda said...

Awesome job Anna, both reading and co-hosting!

I still haven't read TGLaPPPS but look forward to sitting down with that one soon. My favourite book that I read for this challenge was 'Coventry' but like you, 'Night' tops my list of WWII literature.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you both did great on the challenge.

Monica (aka monnibo) said...

Congrats! That's a huge list. I really enjoyed reading your reviews even if I didn't participate in the challenge. I loved Guernsey and agree with Corinne about The Book Thief!

Anna said...

~Alyce: Thanks! I almost bought The Hiding Place at Wonder Book, but all their used copies were too beat up for my tastes. It's on my to-read list, though!

~Literary Feline: Thank you so much!

~She: Thanks! I haven't read either of them, but I hope to at some point.

~Blodeuedd: Thanks! I'm glad you picked some good ones.

~Sandy: I honestly didn't realize how many WWII books there were until I started the recommended reading list on the challenge blog. That list will always be a work in progress!

~bermudaonion: Thanks! The Girl impresses me, too...well, when she's not driving me batty! LOL

~Kaye: Thanks so much!

~Serena: Thanks! I have about that many more on my shelf, so expect to see me continuing the WWII reads.

~Iliana: Thanks! Glad you were able to get something out of the challenge anyway. Hope you'll join us at some point.

~Mari: Thanks! I sure hope so!

~Corinne: Thanks so much! The Book Thief is one of my all time faves. Hope to read The Zookeeper's Wife at some point.

~Kailana: Thanks! I'm sure we'll revisit WWII at some point. There are countless books out there on the topic!

~Wisteria: Thanks! You didn't fail miserably, and of course, you can join us again! And even if you didn't review all the books, they still count as having been read. :)

~Stephanie: Thanks! I found that some of the YA reads were just as engaging and powerful as the adult reads. I absolutely loved the Inglourious Basterds movie. It was on my Christmas list and my hubby bought if for me! :)

~Marg: No, thank YOU for participating!

~Wanda: Thanks! I thought Coventry was really good, too.

~carolsnotebook: Thanks!

~Monnibo: Thanks so much! And you deserve a big round of applause for all you've done for our challenge.