For the past two years I have been alternating between books written by a more modern author and then re reading, or in most cases reading for the first time, an old classic. It’s been working out pretty nicely so far. Lately I’ve been doubling up on old classics since I haven’t found too many modern authors that have kept my attention as much as I’d like them to. I am open to suggestions!
All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Eric Maria Marmarque is my recommendation of the week. Without getting too dramatic, this is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a ‘day in the life’ story of a young German soldier during WWI. And that is really all it is. There is not much to learn as far as the history of the actual war goes. Marmarque strips the story of anything truly political and focuses on what it is like to be a human being and have to put your life on the line for something you don’t understand. He was himself a young soldier in WWI and so this story is based closely on his own experiences and those of his fellow soldiers.
Even more interesting then the book is reading up on Marmarque’s life after this book was published. When Hitler took control All Quiet was destroyed and categorized as unpatriotic. Marmarque had to leave Germany, change his name and could not return. His own sister was put to death for his “crime” against the government when she was over heard speaking pessimistically against Germany’s chances of winning WWII.
It is a heartbreaking novel and not an easy one to read on the train, but one I think everyone should be required to experience.