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AskAlex #37

Another book question this week, which I love. Talking about books is almost as fun as reading them, so I do love when Reddit goes a bit bookish. Consequently, I’d love to receive some book questions from my readers, so do let me know in a comment if you’ve got one for me!

What book absolutely blew your mind?

For me, all books with deeper meanings that what you see on the surface are mind-blowing. The way that some writers can create whole second stories underneath the main thread is really inspiring and keeps you interested. Books that leave you with a lasting message or lesson really touch me and often impact my life.

I’ve been reading Maus by Art Spiegelmann recently. It’s the first graphic novel I’ve ever read and it has been a great experience. Maus deals with shocking, harrowing tales of the Holocaust told by animals representing the various groups -mice are Jews, cats are Nazis and Poles are pigs. It follows the tale of Artie the mouse who is writing a book about the war and its effect on the Jewish race. For his research, he questions his father Vladek -an Auschwitz survivor- on his experiences in the concentration camps.

Hearing such terrible stories about things that really happened to people during World War 2 has an effect, of course but there’s something about depicting the people as animals that gives it a different spin. Seeing the characters drawn as animals sometimes causes you to forget that the events being talked about actually happened to humans. When you realise that Vladek’s stories are true or near to true for so many Jews, it really hits home and you’re smacked in the face with shock and sadness.

On a lesser level, Animal Farm by George Orwell is also like this. It uses animals to describe a big historic event that affected so many people. However, using animals to re-enact it forces you to see it in a different way. The eventual reconnaissance that it isn’t just about an animal story, that the animals are metaphors for humans hits you in a way that other books just don’t.

I’d really advise everyone to read Maus even those of you who aren’t big readers. Due to the nature of graphic novels, they’re not full of chunks of text and description that can seem impossible to penetrate. I’ll certainly be reading more in the future!

 

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