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Krakow Market Square, Poland

Awesome Books: Two Worthy Reads

Read a book that makes your travel destination more meaningful. And, check out a book of books guaranteed to pique your interest.

One of our goals at Throomers is to provide you with fresh ideas for your spare time.  This includes informing you of interesting books, entertainment, wine, beer, travel, and one-of-a-kind experiences.

I have the task of writing a monthly column introducing and/or reviewing books across a wide spectrum of topics that you might find entertaining.  I like to read a lot during my ever-diminishing spare time; and having been to Poland and Romania a couple months ago, I thought it would make sense to learn a little more about the most depressing, heart-wrenching places I’ve ever visited, Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Lest We Forget

I always thought that if I happened to be in Poland, I had to visit the concentration camps.  And so we did —I’m still uncertain whether this is something everyone ought to do, as it makes for a very difficult day and runs the risk of putting a damper on your vacation. We felt it was important to see with our own eyes, these vestiges of our past. It is humbling to be in the presence of souls lost there. Even the very walls reek of the horrors wrought by evil minds. The experience was solemn and left us contemplative, and profoundly moved. I don’t regret going there, rather, I am better for it.

Owicim, Poland, – October 24, 2007: Dead Railway in Auschwitz – Birkenau Concentration Camp. Poland

So, I just finished reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.  The story is of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who was sent to the concentration camps and tasked to permanently mark his fellow prisoners. The book deserves the accolades it has received but, again, is very gloomy and not for everyone.  Please be aware of what you are getting into before picking up this novel.  However, it does speak of bravery and compassion, enduring love and humanity during this dark period in our history.

The author, Heather Morris of New Zealand, now living in Australia, met Lale Sokolov in 2003. The two became close and he described his life during the Holocaust to her. Morris penned his story which eventually became her first novel.

Book Lover’s Treasure Trove

The book, which was published this past October, is titled 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich. This masterful literary guide provides over 900 pages of notable books, including classic novels, beloved mysteries, children’s books, poetry, memoirs, acclaimed contemporary fiction, seminal works of cultural criticism, and much more.  The authors are diverse and span ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.  Brief, yet informed and thought-provoking essays accompany each title, giving the reader a sense of the work’s historical and literary context and the reason why the book is on the list.

 


Once published, the book became an instant hit, garnering starred reviews from top literary lists like Publishers Weekly, BooklistLibrary Journal, as well as from The Washington Post and many independent reviewers.

Here are just a few of the reviews …

Every so often, a reference book appears that changes the landscape of its area of focus.  In the case of reading and readers’ advisory, this is one such book … lively, witty, insightful prose … It might be wise to invest in several copies of this wonderful meditation on life lived with and enhanced by the written word.

____Booklist

If you’ve ever doubted that books were the greatest invention of all time, and that they carry within them our collective memories and dreams, as well as any semblance of intelligence we have as a species, pick up James Mustich’s 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die and start reading.

____ Ken Burns

As the owner of a 90-year-old bookselling institution, I am not easily fazed by 1,000 books, but Mustich’s literary bucket list stopped me in my tracks. His expansive scope is coupled with a delightful wit and a perfect eye for the surprise detail. Never again will you have to wonder what to read next. A book you’ll cherish for a lifetime!

____ Nancy Bass Wyden, Proprietor, Strand Book Store

About James Mustich

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die is the culmination of a 14-year project by the author. Previous work by Mustich includes the co-founded, highly acclaimed mail-order book catalog, A Common Reader, in 1986. After spending 20 years at the catalog’s helm, he became an editorial and product development executive in the publishing industry. In 2017, he became the founding executive producer of Barnes & Noble’s B&N Podcast, interviewing numerous notable authors. In his earlier years, he graduated from Princeton University and worked as a bookseller in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

Author photograph by Trisha Keeler Photography

Pick up a copy of 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die and/or The Tattooist of Auschwitz at your local bookstore, or online at your favorite bookseller!