When I'm on vacation, I really like to read books about the places I'll be visiting. Right now one of my best friends and I are backpacking through Europe, which means tons of time on trains and lots of time for reading.
I read Night by Elie Wiesel on our way through Germany. It made the trip to Berlin a lot more meaningful because we were there for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall and saw lots of exhibits about WWII, the Holocaust and the end of the Cold War. The book is a very short, quick read, but a story that really gets to you. Wiesel, who lived in Auschwitz for a number of years toward the end of WWII, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his literary works, which raised awareness about the horrors of the Holocaust. Night is the story of his journey from ghetto to concentration camp to liberation. Definitely worth reading.
I was a little sad about my choice though because I think far too much literature about Germany focuses on WWII. I know it's something that we all shouldn't forget, but I really wish I could read something uplifting about Germany, especially because the country has become so much more than that period in time. Germany is by far one of my most favorite countries to visit, but I think there are still a lot of negative connotations associated with it. Does anyone out there have any great recommendations for a book with the setting in Germany that's not about WWII or the Holocaust? I'd love to hear about it if you have.
The second book I finished on this trip was Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. This book has been on my reading list for years, but I could never get past the first pages. But, with a trip to Ireland on my itinerary, I zipped through it in a matter of days. McCourt's Pulitzer Prize winning memoir details his early childhood and teenage years in Limerick, Ireland, where his family lived in poverty. McCourt is able to detail the horrendous living conditions of his childhood with a sense of humor that makes you almost want to laugh at the absurdity of the situation if only it weren't so tragic. Although this book describes a less than desirable existance in Ireland, it did make me want to go to Ireland immediately. The descriptions of the place and the people were vivid and colorful. And, of course, the accented dialogues throughout the book made me want to hear the accent for myself asap. I'm really looking forward to my trip there and will hopefully find a copy of 'Tis, the sequel to Angela's Ashes, while I'm there.
Will write again when I have Internet access.