In my spare time you will most likely find me with my nose in a book. I have always love to read. When I was a child I would read under the covers with a torch long after my parents switched off the lights. I love coming home from a long day with that longing to get into bed with a good book. It makes me so happy! I have a true love for history books and any war story so in today’s round up of my latest reads, four of the six are war stories so if you have a similar affinity for history books and war stories, you will love these books! Please let me know if you’ve read any of these titles and leave any other recommendations in the comment section below!
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. It showcases the run up to and the duration of the second world war from the eyes of two children: one a blind French little girl living in Paris with her father, the other a German orphan with an aptitude for science and mechanics who is given the opportunity to attend a prestigious school but taught the Nazi ethos. As the Nazis invade Paris, families try to flee the city in order to protect themselves but this often means leaving everything they have behind. This is quite a gripping story which makes it a real page turner and often left me holding my breath. I couldn’t wait to clear things off my to-do list each day so that I could rush home to stick my nose back into this book. I highly recommend it!
Girl At War by Sara Novic
This is a Croatian war story also told from the eyes of a child. Ana Juric lives in Zagreb with her parents and younger sister. When it becomes apparent that her younger sister has a medical condition that can only be treated in America, the family leaves home and travels to Sarajevo to have her transported by the Red Cross. On their way back to Zagreb the family is stopped by rebels. Ana, abandoned and alone, is exposed to the true horror of war, the reality of which she will carry with her into adulthood. This is a story that will stay with you for long after you have finished the last chapter and for good reason.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
If you have watched the Starz series “Outlander,” you might already be familiar with this story. Now that the second world war has come to an end, Claire Randall and her husband, Frank, take a trip up to Scotland to rekindle their romance after having spent the duration of the war apart. While Frank is researching the history of the area with the local vicar, Claire wanders through the fields collecting flowers when she hears a loud buzzing noise coming from a pagan ring of stones. Curiosity piques and Claire touches the stone which transports her to the year 1743. Faced with the dangers of highway men, an imminent war between England and Scotland, unfamiliar territory, a foreign language and uncertainty as to whether she will ever be able to get home to Frank, Claire draws all her strength to fight for survival. This is the first in a series of books that will lead you to fall in love with a red headed Scot named James Fraser and will also have you brush up on your history of the Jacobite rising and the battle of Culloden. It’s such a great story and full of unexpected and suspensive twists.
The Secret Rhonda Byrne
My sister read The Secret years ago and I was never really interested in it. In fact, I would go so far as to say I was completely sceptical. Recently, however, I came across a girl who emanated peace and positivity and she spoke of the importance of focusing on the law of attraction and positive frequency in life. She mentioned that she had read The Secret and she started changing the way she focused her energy and how it made her conscious of maintaining a positive frame of thought. I thought to myself that if she has changed from being a stressed-out to completely at peace, I should finally give this book a read. I was still extremely sceptical while I was reading the book but I must say that there are certain elements that definitely have the potential to have a remarkable effect on your life. I have implemented the steps I chose to take from the book in my life and it has made a huge difference to my stress levels. If anything, this book is successful in making you conscious about your thoughts. Once you are conscious of them, you can train them and you can project these into the rest of your life. The only criticism I have of the book is that it is only focused on thoughts changing your life and neglects to mention all the hard work that is required after you have realigned your thoughts in order to achieve all your goals. While I think that is quite a large oversight, I still took away a huge amount from this book. I would definitely say this is worth a read. It’s not a long book so you’ll fly through it quickly but it’s important to take the time to let it all sink in as you do.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This is the true and personal story behind the HeLa cell line originating from Henrietta Lacks. This book is fundamentally a comment on medical ethics and it exposes many terrible injustices within the American medical procedures over the past 70 years. It exposes numerous civil rights issues of the 1950s when black men and women were subject to poor medical treatment and vulnerable to experimental treatment due to unsatisfactory education. The question of consent to medical treatments and experiments is central to this story. Henrietta Lacks suffered from fatal cervical cancer and during the course of her treatment, a biopsy was taken and it was discovered that her cells were capable of rapidly multiplying and did not die. Upon her death, her doctors quickly obtained more cells from her body to continue monitoring and experimenting with her cells. Her immortal cells have, today, travelled around the earth, to the moon and have been used for the polio vaccination, cancer treatment and numerous other experiments. They have been instrumental in many scientific breakthroughs and have made millions of dollars in the medical and scientific industries. Soon scientists were trying to track down her children to conduct tests on them and their cells, again without their consent and often under false pretences. While the medical industry has profited more than can actually be quantified, the Lacks family has received no compensation for the cells and struggle to afford medical treatment of their own. This is an incredible book which will open your eyes to the legal issues surrounding human tissues and the rights attached to them.
East West Street by Philippe Sands
Ryan bought me this book for my birthday. For those of you that don’t know, I did my masters degree in International Law so you can imagine that I have a great interest in war and human rights. East West Street is a non-fiction book which focused on the Nuremberg Tribunal’s prosecution of war crimes on an international level which had never before been done. “Crimes against humanity” and “genocide” became crimes for the very first time in history and individual leaders were prosecuted for these crimes. Sands has gone back in time to discover more about the origin of these two crimes and the two legal minds who introduced them to our legal system. He explores their lives, their history, the social circumstances, their strengths and weaknesses which provide more insight into their arguments that these separate crimes should be included in the charge sheets of the Tribunal. Sands has also developed a third pillar of his investigation, one personal to him, which provides the reader with another dimension of background into the historical changes. This book is so well researched that I would have to say it is one of the best books I have ever read. Sands has mastered the artistry of weaving story telling into his legal research and exposing the reality that the background of an individual can be instrumental in the focus and shift in legal progression.