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The Librarian of Auschwitz: A Book Review by Veronica Jorge

February 22, 2022 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , , ,

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

by

Antonio Iturbe

translated by

Lilit Thwaites.

A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

Henry Holt & Co., 2012,

First American Edition, 2017   

ISBN 978-1-62779-618-7

Recently, I replaced my worn copy of Hard Times by Charles Dickens, a novel about the political and economic woes of the 19th century. Hmm. Sound familiar? He prefaces one of the themes of the novel by quoting the biblical phrase, ‘what a man sows, that he will also reap.’ The story unfolds with the ‘seeds’ that each character sows, and the consequences of what they reap.

But that’s a sermon for the pulpit.

My topic addresses the need for books. Replacing this book, and several others, required a long search to obtain the copies in the editions and hard covers I desired. Did I really need to go through so much trouble for a book? Were they worth that much to me? Yes!

Which reminded me of…you guessed it…a book; The Librarian of Auschwitz by the Spanish journalist and author Antonio Iturbe, and based on the true story of Dita Kraus, the little girl who risked her life for the sake of books.

Block 31 in the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp houses about five hundred children and several adults named counselors. Secretly they run a school and hide a library that consists of eight books which include, A Short History of the World by H.G. Wells, a Russian grammar, and a book on analytical geometry. Not exactly essential reading or something to risk your life for, yet that is exactly what they do. Dita is entrusted to hide the books in a different place each night because these books fill their greatest need: the survival of their minds and souls.

The story examines bravery, the causes people risk their lives for, and questions the importance of books. As the author examines on page 408 of his postscript, “Books can’t be used as weapons. They can’t fill a hungry stomach or quench thirst. They can’t cure illnesses, loneliness or prejudice.”

 Or can they?

The Librarian of Auschwitz, together with Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953), The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2007), ( the narrator in Zuzak’s book is Death, wow!), and the non-fiction book by historian of education Diane Ravitch, The Language Police (2003), to name a few, deserve our attention for they remind us of the importance of freedom of thought and expression. In addition, books can indeed satisfy our hunger and thirst for knowledge; they make good companions to ease loneliness; they open our minds to empathize with other cultures and curb prejudice.

Books are also weapons. To quote an often used phrase: ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ So, let’s keep on writing.

Iturbe concludes that humans can survive with just the basic necessities, but it is culture and books that make a complete person. Without them humanity dies.

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on March 22nd!

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2014: Why haven’t you finished that book yet? by Jina Bacarr

January 11, 2014 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
© | Dreamstime.com

The clock is ticking…

Tick tock…tick tock…

How many words did you write today? Why haven’t you finish that book yet?

We all torment ourselves with these phrases and then blame our lack of productivity on…

Twitter…Facebook…Instagram…kids…family…the Internet…not enough coffee.

It’s all about focus.

And finding that beautiful space in our minds where we can run free and create and write and write and write.

It can be as elusive as a butterfly.

But well worth going after, no matter what gets in our way.

According to experts, interruptions can put a big damper on our concentration and it can take about ten minutes to get the writing flowing again.

So the next time an email pops into your Inbox, or the phone rings, or someone yells, “Hey, Mom, are you busy?” know that it’s not your fault if it takes a few minutes to get back into the moment.

Then let the butterfly in your mind run free…

Best,
Jina

www.jinabacarr.com  
www.facebook.com/JinaBacarr.author
https://twitter.com/JinaBacarr
http://www.pinterest.com/jbacarr

In case you missed it, here is an 11-minute video with an excerpt from Chapter One in my novella, “A Soldier’s Italian Christmas” available on Amazon Kindle.

You can be sure I had a lot of interruptions putting this together, but I finished it!


A Soldier’s Italian Christmas: Excerpt from Chapter One from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

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