2014 is the 100th anniversary of the year that the Great War/World War I/the War to End All Wars started. To mark that anniversary, I am spending this entire year reading about nothing but World War I. I’m alternating fiction and non-fiction. Let me take a minute to try and explain why I’m doing this. First, I have always been interested in the war. I remember asking my European History teacher in high school to explain again and again why the war started. I never got it. I’m a person who likes to get things, so this has always bothered me. That’s the first reason: a desire to understand something that I don’t understand. What I’ve discovered so far is that nobody really understands the war. The consensus seems to be that it didn’t have to happen. This brings me to my second reason for undertaking this project.
Second, I like bummer books. I’m a generally cheerful person, but I read the most depressing books possible. A year of reading about young, idealistic people dying for no reason sounded like a great way to pass the time.
Third, I’ve been interested in undertaking some kind of reading challenge. My father has read and continues to read all of the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction (or novel, as they used to call it). He’s piecing his way through the National Book Award now. Like father, like daughter, I am trying to read within one theme too. I’ve gotten some of the suggested books from him, and I’ve suggested a few for him too. It’s something fun I can share with my dad.
I think those are the basic reasons. I would like to share some of the things I discover and find interesting in this blog. I plan to start in earnest on June 28th. Anyone? Anyone? The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary in Sarajevo, the event that triggered the start of the war. More about that later.
In the meantime, here’s a list of the books I’ve read so far. Incidentally, one of these came from our collection here in the library. I will also share more about the books in our collection as I work through this year. Without further ado:
We Did Not Fight: 1914-1918 experiences of war resisters edited by Julian Bell (this came from our collection)
The First World War by John Keegan (currently reading)
Please feel free to leave a comment with your suggestion for a favorite WWI book. You can play along at home. And, unlike WWI, we really will be done by Christmas.