Friday, July 31, 2015

July - This Month in Reading

For a combination of reasons, the main one being a very sad event, July was not a very productive reading month for me, with only 3 books read. I am still working on the foreign language books, however, and although I am still struggling a bit emotionally I do hope to have more entries in August.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife - Francine Prose

This book focuses on Anne's diary itself, and more specifically, how the diary came to become a bestselling classic. I had already read about this topic here and there in my reading, but I had no idea about the controversy surrounding the creation of the stage play based on the diary - that was all news to me, and it's a very strange and absorbing story. The author also talks about Anne as a writer, and about how her writing shows real development and talent during the time she kept her diary. I knew that Anne had made revisions to her own diary, with an eye toward possible publication after the war, but it was interesting to hear another writer talk about Anne's skill in doing so; how she handled characterization and details and showed talent.

One quibble - the author kept referring to the hiding place as "an attic." I realize that a lot of people use this term to describe the Achterhuis/Secret Annexe, but I'm a stickler for accuracy and it's simply not accurate. I wish she hadn't propagated the use of "attic" in this book.

All in all this is an interesting read and I enjoyed it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Inside Anne Frank's House: An Illustrated Journey Through Anne's World

This large-format coffee-table type book briefly takes the reader through Anne's background and the time before her family went into hiding, and then provides a wealth of information and photographs of the hiding place itself, as well as photos of the people who hid in the Achterhuis/Secret Annexe. It also provides information and photos pertaining to what happened to the Franks, van Pelses (van Daans), and Dr. Pfeffer (Dr. Dussel) after the arrest, and their ultimate fates. It also has lots of photos of Anne's actual diary and of some of her other writings, such as the stories she also wrote, and gives information about how the diary came to be published, etc.

I can't remember how I came to own this book, and it's strange that I don't remember ever sitting down to actually read through the text and really peruse the photos before now. It's a beautiful accompaniment to reading the diary, and would add a lot of detail for anyone who has an interest in Anne or even the Holocaust generally. Highly recommended.

One note: I wasn't able to discover a specific author's name for this book, but the introduction was written by the Executive Director of the Anne Frank House, Hans Westra, and I believe this book was put together by people working for the House, if not for the Anne Frank Foundation.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July Reread - Anne Frank Remembered - Miep Gies with Alison Leslie Gold

This book was written by one of the brave people who helped hide the Frank family and the other 4 people who hid with them, as evidenced in the subtitle, "The Story of the Woman Who Helped Hide the Frank Family." This book lends an interesting perspective to the story for those who have read Anne's diary, as it tells the same story but from a different perspective. I liked learning more about Miep, and about her life before World War II, and how she met her husband Jan (called "Henk" in the original diary translations), how she came to work for Otto Frank, and etc. It was also fascinating to hear about what her life was like during the war - how much work actually went into  supporting the 8 people in hiding - making sure they had enough to eat, keeping them safe, trying to keep their spirits up. This book also illustrates just how awful the last year of the war was for everyone in Holland, especially the "hongerwinter" (the "hunger winter") when food was so scarce that many people literally starved to death before the Allies were able to liberate them.

Miep Gies is someone I really admire. She embodies many of the qualities I value in a person, such as courage, perseverance, self-reliance, intelligence, and the ability to problem solve and think on her feet, etc. I wish I could be even half the person she was in her lifetime. 

This book is an excellent accompaniment to Anne's diary, as supplemental reading. Highly recommended.