50 Books: Birdsong

Some of you may have noticed, this is not the promised book for this week. I was completely on schedule to be done with Anna Karenina this week, but during my weekend travels I ended up without any time to read. Normally I am a person who reads before bed, however as I was sharing a room, I couldn’t keep the light on. Instead of skipping a week of bookishness, I decided the quickly read the next book on my list, as I knew it was a very short one.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Where did I get this book and how many pages?

This book is available on Oyster, and is reported to have 88 print pages.

Have I read this book before?

No. I have never heard of this one, not even in passing.

What do I already know?

Not much. The cover says it is a modern play, and there appears to be a soldier and a woman there. My guess, based on these clues, is it is a wartime romance.

What do I think now?

This was a very short play, but I liked it. I don’t always like reading plays. It took me a little bit to get into the rhythm of the story, meaning things were slightly lost at the beginning. It was a story about a group of soldiers fighting in a war. It didn’t say which war, but they referenced speaking French and fighting Germans. I originally assumed that meant WW2, but a brief internet search told me it was actually supposed to be WW1. There doesn’t seem to be much beyond tragedy in this story. There is a soldier who loses a son, a soldier who lied about their age to enlist and isn’t doing well, and a commanding officer who is haunted by the memory of the love of his life, who left him many years earlier. It is a pretty dark story, but well written. I would like to see this play one day. I think it would be dark beautiful.

Should you read this book before you die?

Occasionally I have trouble when I come to this portion of the post. I feel as though I should always say yes, read this book. Someone else made the list. I don’t know who, and I don’t know why. There is no explanation as to why these books were chosen, or what makes them better then the billions of other books that have been written. Not every book I have read on this list has made a large impact on me; some have been just mildly entertaining. I’m not sure what I am supposed to get out of this. I’d like to know what put this on the list.

As a writer, I enjoyed the rhythm of the flashbacks and the way they told the story without telling the story. I liked the technique of the writing, but I’m not sure that I learned anything new. As a reader, I felt it did a great job of creating an image of war. It was horrible, and dark, but of course I already knew that about war. Again, not really a lesson.

I suppose that is the reason to read this book, to see what you get out of it.

Next week, I will be caught up, and we will finally see Anna Karenina, followed by Heart of Darkness.

Happy Reading!!

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