I’ve been really enjoying the first reading challenge in which I’ve participated, which is for books about or set during World War One. One of the good things is that I feel obligated to write and post about each of the books as I read them, something which I often neglect, given the high volume of books I read and, well, my laziness.
However, while being lazy I am also somewhat anal-retentive. I’m trying to decide what’s next, the main criteria being books I already own and books that other participants in the challenge are not reading (some are following a list of suggestions, but I’ve already read most of those). Also, I don’t want to read all the same kinds of books for the challenge.
A Diary Without Dates by Enid Bagnold is a top contender for my next read; it’s been on my TBR for a long time, it’s not that long, and I have it as an e-book, which means it will be easy to quote from for my commentary. Also in electronic form, I have a number of memoirs that are less well-known; however, I’ve already read one soldiers’ memoir/recruitment vehicle for the challenge, so should probably look beyond those for now. I’d been considering Good-bye to All That by Robert Graves, but that’s another memoir.
So far as nonfiction about the War goes, I’ve been meaning to read Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth by John Garth for quite a while, too. I’ve read a little bit about Tolkien’s experiences, more of a summary, really, and I would very much like to further explore how his experiences in the trenches affected his depiction of Mordor (and I maintain that the Eagles in Return of the King are, in fact, airplanes). That’s not a small book, but there’s nothing in the challenge that says I have to finish it in a single month; in fact, I could be reading it concurrently with something else.
Another approach could be geographical. I have several books about fronts other than the Western, none of which I have yet read: Gallipoli by Alan Moorehead and Byron Farwell’s The Great War in Africa: 1914-1918 among them. The former is a small paperback and the latter is a hardcover…these things do make a difference, sometimes, in what I choose to read.
I keep track of my World War One collection at LibraryThing – feel free to have a look if you’re interested. Suggestions are welcome!
Here are my challenge reads so far:
War Horse (movie) – ok, not a “read,” but movies are considered okay
The Head Girl at the Gables, Angela Brazil (fiction from WWI era)
Holding the Line by Harold Baldwin (memoir, written during the War)
Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning by Jay Winter (nonfiction/social history and theory)