Sunday, February 13, 2011

Post #301: In Which I Discuss Living in Europe and My Penchant for Books, Knowledge, and Food (Updates)

(Post #301?  How did that happen?  It seems like it should say "#50.")

Kyle is on the night shift.  Which means I am on the night shift.  Which means I am exhausted all the time, and deprived of sunshine.  However, there are good things about the night shift.  Since I'm exhausted all the time, I do a lot of reading.  And when I read, I snack, so there is also a lot of good food and cooking going on.  Good books and good food make for a happy (if sleepy) bloggette. 

Recently I've realized that I am completely ignorant of European history.  Small town Kentucky schools don't tend to stress it in the course load.  Outside of a brief (and pitiful) knowledge of WWII, I know nothing about the background of the place in which I am living.  I'm on a mission to rectify this tragedy. 

This mission began when I finished a historical fiction: Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (courtesy of the night shift reading).  The book details the events leading up to WWI, and the effects of the war on five fictional (but realistic and well researched) families, each one from a different heritage involved in the war.  While reading, I realized that I only vaguely remembered brushing over some of the events mentioned in the book in high school, and as a two year English major I'd only taken one course in history in college.  It focused on early American history, which does me little good here.

Then I read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.   This biographical tale of Olympic runner and war hero Louis Zamperini earned five stars in my chart, and is the latest triumph of the sensational (and inspiring) Laura Hillenbrand.  This book gives us a quick glimpse into Zamperini's background before launching us into the war with him, facing down the Japanese on a B-24.  We see many near misses and close calls before Zamperini and his fellow airmen are saddled with an inadequate plane and tumble into the Pacific.  Three men survive the crash and drift on a life raft for over a month, narrowly avoiding being devoured by ever-present sharks and barely resisting starvation, only to be picked up by the Japanese and whisked into torturous POW camps.  Two of the three men survive the ordeal.  Hillenbrand handles the story magnificently.  She devoted a decade to researching and writing the book, and the care she put into the process shines in this engaging, detailed account of the persistence and perseverance of the human spirit.

I was much more familiar with the events of Hillenbrand's book, but it fascinated me, making me all the more eager to discover as much as I can.  I'm hoping to find a university-level text on European history, and supplement my learning with more memoirs/biographies and historical fictions.  (Any recommendations are more than welcome.)

I think the more I learn about this place, the more I will come to appreciate my time here.  So far the experience has been priceless, driving home my belief that despite what I've sacrificed to be here (closeness to dear friends and family, postponed education, etc.), I made the right decision.  Kyle and I are happy together, and I feel completely enamoured with the life I am leading.  I love that I can step outside our home, take a short drive and walk into castle ruins.  I love the feeling that I am surrounded by the history and culture of unknown times and places.  I have wanted to be in Europe since I knew it existed, and now here I am, not just visiting, but living in it.  It's a precious gift.

Honestly, I'm more excited to bring my friends and family here than I am to visit home.  You have no idea how good it feels to be able to say that...to feel as though I am home already.  To want to share how much I love this life with everyone back in Kentucky.  I can't wait to discover what each new day brings.  I want to make time stand still and soak everything in.  Most of all, I am so pleased to have a wonderful husband at my side to live it all with me.

6 comments:

  1. aw i'm so glad you're enjoying germany so much! it sounds wonderful.

    unfortunately, i'm just as ignorant about european history as you are, but i'd love to know which books you decide to read on the subject. be sure to post the good ones.

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  2. Will do! I have a friend back in the states who's a history major and I'm planning to hit him up for some suggestions.

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  3. Carrie, warms my heart to see that you are soaking up the adventure and wonder of your new life in Germany. Maybe the romance of the majestic vistas and castle ruins will inspire some novel writing. : ) So happy for you and Kyle and I know just what you mean about sharing your life and everything that you love with those whom you love.

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  4. Lyn, one can only hope... ;)

    A few of my friends are trying desperately to raise the funds to come here for the holidays this December, and I think my dad might be planning a trip sometime next year. My fingers are crossed! :)

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  5. Congratulations on your 301 post.
    Also read Armageddon by Leon Uris. It is an awesome book.

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  6. Elsa, I'll look it up. :) Thanks!

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