I am trying to read at a slower pace this year and read books that are already in my house on or my Kindle. I read 9 books in January and two of those were books I already had on hand. The rest were library books (including an audiobook) except for The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which I bought for a book club I started locally.
Here’s what I read in January:
In The Baker’s Daughter, Reba Adams is sent to interview a German baker in El Paso about how holidays were spent in Germany. When she finally gets to talk to Elsie, she finds out Elsie doesn’t have happy Christmas memories, but just remembers life during the war. Both Reba’s and Elsie’s lives unfold as they grow closer, forging ways for them to let go of the past and learn to forgive. Elsie was a baker’s daughter with a sister serving as a breeder for the Nazis and a boyfriend who wore the Nazi uniform. Reba grew up with a father haunted by war, who then killed himself and left Reba constantly feeling his shadow over her life.
We have seen with our own eyes or on the news the unthinkable scenarios of terrorist attacks, earthquakes, fires and tsunamis. Is there a way to know how you personally would react in these situations? How can you train yourself to give you the best chance of survival? In The Unthinkable, journalist Amanda Ripley investigated how humans responded to major disasters and what they did that gave them the ability to survive. She looks at the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, hurricanes, being a hostage, a stampede, a school shooting and a plane crash all while exploring one particular factor that aided in people’s survival.
When a family member is required to report for work duty for the Germans from Slovakian Jewish families, Lale volunteers to go for his family. He quickly sees the cruel world he is trapped inside and decides to do whatever it takes to live and survive. His ability to speak several languages and his ability to be aware of what is happening around him, gives him the opportunity to be the camp’s tattooist – The Tattooist of Auschwitz. He tries to be gentle and offer some comfort while he does the job because it gives him extra food and protection, which he then uses to help others.
Lev spent his early childhood trying to find a way to live peacefully as a Jew in the Ukraine under the USSR. It was impossible. Around the age of 10, his parents embarked on a long process to emigrate their family out of the country with a hope of going to America. Israel was open for Jews to move to, but many of the Jews in the USSR were Jews by ethnicity only and they wanted to remove themselves from an identity that determined their schools, jobs, friends and fate. For Lev, it meant daily beatings at school. For his older sister Lina, it meant she could not become a doctor like she wanted but had to be an engineer instead. For his parents and grandmother, it meant being constantly on alert for the police who could come and confiscate or arrest for any reason they wanted. Even if it was a jealous coworker telling a lie – party came before everything in the USSR. He tells his story in A Backpack, A Bear and Eight Cases of Vodka.
If you don’t want your worldview challenged, do not read this book. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man tell the story of a man who would work deals on behalf of a company that would aim to help U.S. politics and entrench other countries in debt. He was paid to make economic projections that would justify enormous loans for a large infrastructure projects. Then, that country would not see those projections and remain in debt – economically, politically and militarily. As his conscience caught up with him by seeing the poor get poorer in these countries, he sought to tell the world the truth. Now, I question the true motives behind many significant historical events. It is an eye-opening book.
Siblings Without Rivalry is a great complement to How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen to Kids Will Talk if you are a parent of more than one child. It is written in the same format with the authors talking to a group of parents who go through one tip a week to help their children get along better. It was originally going to be in the first book, but there was so much material, it became a second book. The best tips come with making a concerted effort to make each child felt heard and treasured as an individual and to treat each child as a individual without comparing them. I highly recommend this book to parents. It is a very good resource!
Who wouldn’t want to make more money – especially doing something that particularly interests you? Side Hustle is all about finding ways to create a way to increase your income with another business opportunity. Chris Guillebeau goes step-by-step on how to figure out a good side hustle idea and then make that idea come alive and thrive. Some of the best stories in the book are people who take the side hustle from “side” to full-time and end up making money doing something they truly love.
In The Bookseller, Kitty wakes up from a vivid dream where she is married and a mother. Her real life couldn’t be any more different – she is a single woman who runs a small bookshop with her best friend, Frieda. The dream is hard to shake but it’s when she keeps going back to the dream again and again and again that it starts to mess with Kitty’s world. The only things tying the two worlds together are herself, her cat, current events and the city of Denver. The dreams take place just a few months into the future and seem to follow a set timeline. No matter what she tries, almost every time she sleeps, she goes into the dream world.
The sinking of the Titanic was avoidable, but the loss of life that night is tragic. The details of that fateful night have been passed on by survivors and compiles in the book A Night to Remember. Released in 1955, just 43 years after the sinking in 1912, the book tells the tale chronologically. The sinking changed the way ships communicated and how society worked in so many ways. It is a historical event that needs to be remembered by all generations.