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It is very hard for me (which I realize sounds terribly weak) to read of the suffering during WWII. I remember walking through Anne Frank's house in 1969, when I was 8 years old, and it changed my life forever.

As you said in your ending of this post, it makes petty annoyances in daily life immediately snap into focus.


I also agree with the last comment.
You wrote a throughtful introduction and I'm interested to read the whole post once you finished the book. Maybe it is good to know that it doesn't get worse towards the end. It stays the same all the way. No Mengele like experiments or any such thing. Still, it's horrible but the most horrible is the uncovering of the nature of man. That's so depressing.
I'm going to link this, take your time finishing.


I have several of Levi's books sitting un read on my shelves precisely because I know that while I want to have read them the actual act of reading will distress me so much I may not finish them. A few pages at a time is probably the only way forward.


I haven't read this Primo Levi, yet what you write reminds me very much of how I experienced Etty Hillesum's Diaries. She, especially in the beginning of her diaries - is writing about normal daily events, while I was very much aware of what is to follow. As in having bi-focal vision. And yes that changed my perspective on normal daily life profoundly.


I know what you mean about it getting more difficult to read books like this as you get older. I wonder if it is easier when we are younger because we have less experience of the world so it seems unimaginable and far away and we can think it is an exception. But as we get older and less innocent, it becomes easier to imagine and we can no longer believe it was an exception.


Belleza--It's very easy to get caught up in little annoyances, but I feel instantly bad about it when reading books like those by Primo Levi. It is hard reading WWII books--I agree!
Caroline--That's good to know. And he did survive, which is also good to know from the outset. I'm hoping that if I set a posting date I will stick with the book and not let it languish as it isn't one I necessarily want to pick up every day. But I will be glad to have read it.
Annie--I think I might not have picked this up had I not joined in Caroline's readalong--so, a good thing to be pushed along a little but hard going during the reading. And a little at a time seems the best way to approach it for me.
Catharina--I have Etty Hillesum's diaries--at least a book that has diary entries, which I have heard many, many good things about but which for this very reason I find hard to pick up. It's hard going into a book like that knowing the outcome.
Stefanie--I think you sum it up perfectly. It's easy when young to be hopeful and even a little ignorant, but now seeing so much terrible-ness in the world it is hard to take sometimes. You/I feel the weight of the world is very heavy sometimes.

Dorothy W.

I agree that it's important to read books about difficult subjects in order to learn more about them. I've been meaning to read Levi's book The Periodic Table at some point. I've never read Levi before, and since people have recommended that one to me, it makes sense as a place to start.


I agree that it is more difficult to read books like this as you get older. We have all of Prmo Levi's books and my husband has read them but I haven't plucked up the courage yet. I couldn't go to Anne Frank's attic either.


Dorothy--I'm not familiar with any of his other books, though I know he also wrote fiction. I'd be curious to see what his fiction books are like. I don't read enough history, so I am glad to be reading this--even if it is slow going.
Katrina--It's good I'm reading this--even if I don't automatically pick it up when I want to read a little of my book. I used to be able to read all sorts of books on WWII, but reading about what went on in concentration camps is especially hard!


I think Holocaust literature is the hardest to read of them all. I've come to the end of my time with those books - I feel like I've done my bit in a strange way, and don't have to read any more. Too much of it and you just shut off feeling anyway (like those awful charity adverts on the television - I don't know if you have them in America but they are so traumatic to watch that I will actually switch over, which can't be the point!).


Litlove--I'm finding this really hard to read, so I understand exactly what you mean. I wonder too if after a while you become inured to it and nothing seems very shocking anymore. Yes, we do have those telethons--I know they are for a good cause but I can also only take things like that in small doses.


I make a habit of reading this type of book - I still cannot say why ;-) I have this one in my reading pile and will get to it one day.... I recently read a non-fiction work about Hiroshima that was similarly devastating but ultimately essential reading of the period. (Glad to be visitng and reading blogs again!)

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