Thursday, June 14, 2012

Not About Nazis

As you guys know, I don't read a ton of books for myself...and when I do, I prefer real-life accounts, nonfiction, self-help, scriptures, that kind of stuff.  There is so much that I don't know, so if I've got my nose in a book, it's mostly because I desperately want to know how to do something.  

One of my best friends in college has read everything ever printed and watched every TV show ever produced.  I don't know how she did it!  She is like a sponge.  I could give a million reasons for why I don't read with a passion like so many others do but I won't.  It's just how I am...or how I have been...always busy "doing" or "writing" or playing a sport...and not prone to sitting still to read a book.

Last week, while I was at the library looking for baby name books (smile) I spotted the book "Treasures From the Attic" on the shelf below the baby names shelf, and I became very curious.  It is a compilation of thousands of letters and family history information from the family of Anne Frank.  This collection was discovered by a family member in the late-80's/90's I believe.  And since I have always been drawn to reading original documents and such, I was drawn to this book.

It was so beautiful.  I loved reading the amazing poetry that members of Anne Frank's family (grandparents' families, cousins, etc.) wrote back and forth to one another.  I have always been a letter-writer, and I have longed to have that kind of interaction with members of my own family to not much avail.  But then again, who even writes letters anymore? (Cheery!)

Anyway, I had just read another memoir prior to reading this book (Angela's Ashes) and there was a stark contrast between the two families described in each book.  One family was poor in every way and ignorant on top of that.  The other family was loving to each other in every way, and had a love of learning and beauty.  It is no surprise that a family heritage like this could produce an "Anne Frank".  (Note to self.)

Halfway through reading "Treasures From the Attic", I realized that I really needed to read The Diary of Anne Frank (finally!) in order to get the full picture.  (Yes, I never read that sweet book either!)  Anyway, I really enjoyed reading the writings of the young Anne Frank.  I have always heard people talking about it, and from that I thought I knew what the book was about.

Surprisingly, the book had very little to do with Nazis.  (And thank goodness, they don't deserve the spotlight anyway!)  Instead, it was a rare look into the heart of a child becoming a young woman...and such a wonderful reminder of what I too felt and wrote about in my many journal entries when I was her age!  

As Eleanor Roosevelt writes in the introduction "These are the thoughts and expression of a young girl living under extraordinary conditions, and for this reason her diary tells us much about ourselves and about our own children.  And for this reason, too, I felt how close we all are to Anne's experience, how very much involved we are in her short life and in the entire world."

Because the book "tells us much about ourselves and about our children," I found it to be a very useful gift to me as a mother and as I work with the young women at church.  And I am thankful for it.  Oh, to someday meet the sweet Anne Frank!  What a gift she gives to the world.

Anyway, "Dear Kitties" of the world, as you have probably noticed, I have very little time for writing these days...and even less time to polish the thoughts that I do write!  Even now, the kids are starting to tear the house apart, and we haven't tackled any chores this morning.  Such is the life of a summer vacation mom!  Have a great day!  And thanks for reading!  

PS - I am by no means recommending the book "Angela's Ashes"...just so you know.  Although it was mostly enjoyable and heart-wrenching, the ending was especially degenerate  and proved why I don't waste time reading stuff that is so unenlightening...although at times it is hard to figure out which books are best until you've invested so much time into them!!


  1. our reading preferences are  in line...enjoy each moment with your little ones before the baby comes...

  2. Thanks for the warning about Angela's Ashes. I haven't heard of it, but it doesn't sound like one I'd enjoy. I wish I'd known everything that was in "The Help" before reading that. Urgh. I need to find a reading group! I'm glad you enjoyed The Diary of Anne Frank. It really is a fun little story.

  3. Glad you got a chance to read The Diary of Anne Frank. I think it was required reading when I was in high school. 
    At any rate, I loved it.


  4. I am ashamed to say that I am in the "haven't-read-Anne-Frank-but-assume-I-know-something-about-it" camp. You've inspired me. We have it in German and now I have an excuse to brush up on my German as well ;) I am similar with my reading habits - I read a LOT of actual accounts/non fiction/self help/gospel reads/scriptures. And a lot of children's books these days...

  5. I never had to read the diary of Anne Frank but I've always wanted too. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Jocelyn, if you get the chance, two other books that I highly
    recommend in relation to the holocaust are "The Hiding Place" and
    "Man's Search for Meaning". "The Hiding Place" tells the
    incredible true story of Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who risked her life
    to hide her Jewish countrymen/women. "Man's Search for Meaning" is
    the story and philosophies of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who was a Jewish
    concentration camp survivor. My all-time favorite quote comes from his book: "We
    who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the
    huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have
    been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be
    taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose
    one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

  7. I don't know why Hitler has come up in our family, but I thought it was about time to read some books about World War 2 with my soon to be 4th grade boy.  We finished Number the Stars and now we're reading Hitler's Canary.  Both books are about Denmark and he loves the excitement.  They're both fiction, so they seem not too realistic and scary as a non-fiction book might.  Not that this has anything to do with your post other than the Nazis!! :)

  8. The Diary Of Anne Frank is one of my most favourite books. I first read it when I was around 9 years old, and really enjoyed it, although I didn't thoroughly understand it until some years later. I remember starting up my own journal and writing letters to "Kitty"... My husband and I visited Amsterdam in 2008 and made a point to go to the Anne Frank Museum - I was so overcome with emotion being in that place. It was wonderful and yet so completely saddening at the same time. I can't believe I have never heard of "Treasures In The Attic", and will most definitely be looking it up!! Thank you :-)

  9. I recommend Corrie Ten Boom's book too - it really is fantastic! I've not read the other one - thanks for the recommendation Steve!

  10. Jocelyn ChristensenMonday, June 18, 2012

    The Hiding Place is by far my favorite book ever!

  11. Angela BusselbergWednesday, June 20, 2012

    I think sometimes the point of a good fiction book is to make you love it and hate it.  I think fiction helps us explore our more emotional & philosophical side (not that we always need too)   I haven't read that particular book though ;)  Hopefully you have better luck next time picking a book!

  12. Angela's Ashes isn't fiction...unless a memoir is considered fiction...ha ha!