War Through the Generations 2012 Reading Challenge – The Great War

This is the fourth year in a row that Anna and Serena host the War Through the Generations Challenge. Since this year is dedicated to WWI I chose to join them. I have quite a few books on my piles that I would like to read. I’m not sure how many I will read but I aim for 5.

Here are the rules

Books can take place before, during, or after the war, so long as the conflicts that led to the war or the war itself are important to the story. Books from other challenges count so long as they meet the above criteria.

Dip: Read 1-3 books in any genre with WWI as a primary or secondary theme.

Wade: Read 4-10 books in any genre with WWI as a primary or secondary theme.

Swim: Read 11 or more books in any genre with WWI as a primary or secondary theme.

5 books means I sign up for Wade. I may or may not read more but I’m pretty sure I’ll stay on this level.

Three of the books chosen are the first three titles of my Literature and War Readalong 2012. If you want to read along, please see the page for details.

Zennor In Darkness by Helen Dunmore

A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry

To the Slaughterhouse by Jean Giono

The other books that I will read for the challenge only are

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. It’s a children’s book and I’m very interested to see how someone writes about war for children.

Fly Away Peter by David Malouf. This is a suggestion from Kevin (The War Movie Buff). It’s a very short novel by an Australian author which seems interesting. I’ve watched a lot of Australian WWI movies, it’s about time to read an Australian WWI book.

Here are a few additional suggestions as my favourite war novels are all WWI novels:

Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Fornt. Probably the most famous one.

Pat Barker’s Regeneration TrilogyRegeneration –  The Eye in the DoorThe Ghost Road.

Jane Urquhart’s The Stone Carvers

Sebastian Faulk’s Birdsong 

Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon? (here is my review).

If you would like to sign up, more details on the challenge can be found here.

30 thoughts on “War Through the Generations 2012 Reading Challenge – The Great War

    • For the two or three additional ones, yes. My readalong has fixed dates but any other WWI book I will read, will be read whenever I feel like it. That’s the good thing in a challenge, you do, in theory, sign up for a certain amount of books and publish a list but you can read them whenever you feel like it.

  1. So glad you’re joining us this year! You’ve given me some good suggestions, as I haven’t put a reading list together for myself. I’m having trouble locating a copy of the Dunmore book through my library, but hopefully I’ll be able to participate in the first read-along.

  2. This looks like a wonderful reading challenge! Thanks for writing about it, Caroline. The new titles you have mentioned look quite interesting. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is one of my favourite books. I haven’t read Sebastian Faulks’ ‘Birdsong’ – can you believe that!

    • You are welcome, Vishy. Yes, it’s an interesting challenge and I can squeeze in the books that I didn’t want for the readalong.
      Birdsong has one of the most powerful endings ever. I’ve read it five years ago and it stayed with me. It will stay with me always, I think.
      But I loved the Regeneration Trilogy as a whole even more. It’s amazing.

  3. I could really join this as between your list of books I’ll be reading and my own list that I’d like to dip into, I should have plenty of WWI literature under my belt next year, but I am hesitant to plan something like this as then it sort of feels like I “need” to be reading the books rather than I want to (if that makes sense). I might still do so, but for now I think I will watch from the sidelines. I didn’t realize the Urquhart was a WWI novel!

    • I know what you mean but I never feel like that with challenges. The moment I have contributed something, I already feel quite pleased. I cheat by not always reading a) the books I said I would and b) the number I sgined up for.
      In this case I will becuase I will read my four and the two others are short.
      Yes, Urquhart is a bout those carvers who carved the Vimy Ridge Memorial, among other things.
      I want to read more Urquhart. She is a challenging writer, not an easy read at all but highly fascinating. Like most of the Canadian writers I have discovered so far (mostly writing in French though)

  4. I shall probably be reading Jules Romains’ Verdun and TE Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but it’ll likely only be coincidence. Other books might also turn out to be about WW1, who can say? – To be honest, it’s my least favourite war (a view, I think, shared by a lot of the combatants).

    • I’m pretty sure the combatants were not fond of it. There were not as many cases of shell shock during WWII.
      Which would be the “favourite war”, then?
      I’m most fascinated by WWI, in books and movies.
      Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of those chunksters. I haven’t even watched the movie Lawrence of Arabia, it’s equally long… I wanted to during this break but am more likely to watch Captain Conan now. Tavernier is good at WWI. Might turn out to be the palate cleanser (Richard’s term) I needed after My Blueberry Nights…

  5. Dangit. I just read Mrs. Dalloway and it would have fit in perfectly since one of the main characters is struggling with shell shock from WWI. Oh well. All Quiet is one of my favorite novels. Hitler banned it since it was too real and people wouldn’t want to go to war. Maybe if I make enough progress on my other challenges I can dip into this one.

    • Thanks, Novia, I should be able to do it.
      I did quite well this year, apart from the Murakami, well I read one novel but I wanted to read more.
      I don’t like wrapping up. No clue why.

  6. My favorite WWI-related novel is almost certainly Céline’s Voyage au bout de la nuit, but it’s been so long since I read it that I can’t even remember how much of the story actually takes place during the war. Maybe I should consider joining this challenge so I can reread Céline and read Hasek’s The Good Soldier Svejk with an audience that might actually appreciate a post on the two novels. Hmm. P.S. Could you please tell me what the url for your movie blog is, Caroline? Cheers!

  7. I have a particular affinity for books about the Great War (possibly as a result of being blown away by All Quiet on the Western Front, but I think my appreciation is older than that…). Unfortunately, there never seem to be very many – literature tends to focus on the second world war far more… Your list has given me some new ideas for WWI books and I’m looking forward to seeing what else you might encounter through this challenge.

    • That answers my question to your last comment. I’m generally also more interested in WWI but unfortunately, especially historical novels tend to be a bit repetitive. The ones I mention are very original. The Officer’s Ward is a book that should be very good as well. I watched the movie recently.
      It’s about facial wounds and I’m sure herad to read.

  8. The WWI book from an English point of view is Parades End by Ford Madox Ford. I hosted a read along on this a while ago and all who read it declared it among the very best novels in the world. If you read only one wwi book, consider it as your first.

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