Andi’s Reading In Order Challenge is right up my alley – there is no end date, and the whole goal of the thing is to read through the books you already own in some type, ANY type, of order, to alleviate the overwhelming frustration that comes from an an out-of-control collection of to-be-read books. My participation in the challenge will be interrupted here and there with library books and the occasional book purchase (um, like today. New Pat Conroy. Raise the Roof, people. Raise the damn Roof!) but in general I plan to attack the this challenge by reading through books room-by-room, with the intent that eventually all of my books will end up, in proper order, in the book room, which I should really take a picture of and share with you at some point.
I decided to start with the books on my nightstand, of which there are several. I started with the book on the very top of the pile – Exodus, by Leon Uris. This is one of many books I have from my friend A., which is what happens when two friends love to read and you find yourselves perfectly happy spending an evening going through book collections instead of, say, the bar. A. ensured me I would love Exodus almost as much as she and I loved Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk, and she knows me well – she was right.
Leon Uris’ books is about, well, the exodus of the Jews to Israel after WWII. It is a broad, sweeping epic of a book that is driven both by tremendous characterization and history, and while it took me a hundred pages or so to engage with it (just like Winds of War, A. reminded me) once I started reading I didn’t want to stop. Reading Exodus was one of those reading experiences that really showed the missing gaps of my education and I kept turning to S. and asking him question like just how, exactly, did all the Jewish people get dispersed all over Europe? and Why is Israel constantly referred to as Eretz Israel? The best thing I can say about the book is it made me eager to read more – more historical fiction and more nonfiction, about WWII. I have two criticisms…the first is Uris’ overuse of exclamation points with sentences like Then the bombs came! And the Arabs were mad! and the ending…I found like after ALL THAT WAR it wrapped up much two quickly in the last two pages. I didn’t exactly want it to last any longer but I thought Uris could have taken some more time wrapping up the emotional strings he had left dangling throughout the whole book. That said, I would recommend anyone interested in WWII read first Wouk’s books, and then follow them with Exodus. It might sound trite, but it also gave me an education into the mindset of the Israelites, and gave me a significant amount more empathy for their current plight. My parents have always been somewhat opposed to the aid we give Israel but after reading this book I am determined to learn more and make up my own mind on the matter, which, really, one should do anyway, but I am probably a bit too American in my readiness to accept the opinions of the media over, well, rigorous study.
Four out of five starts for this book – it gave me an education, ignited my empathy and encouraged me to learn more on my own. One really can’t ask for more from a book than that. If it weren’t for the exclamation points! And the last two pages! this would be a five star book.