#17 on the 23 Before 23

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#17. Take a University class I’m interested in, even if it doesn’t fit my degree [Completed September-December 2011]

This semester is all about taking courses that don’t fit my degree. I want to boost my GPA & the only way to do that is to take a couple classes that I just WANT to take so I can do well in them. There’s one in particular that I registered for that I’m extremely interested in & finally this week it started to truly peak my curiosity.

It’s called English Literature & the Holocaust.

A lot of people find the material too depressing to think about, let alone take a class dedicated to. But I am FASCINATED by this time period, and I have been for a long time. In the last couple years, I’ve read some really great fiction books (and some non-fiction) about the Holocaust which have only made me more intrigued by the whole thing.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s really REALLY sad. It’s depressing too & sometimes I’m like “what is wrong with me?” for wanting to learn more about it… I just can’t help it. So I’m embracing my interest this semester and mixing two interests in one. Literature and the Holocaust.

The class has 7 books to read and I’ve only read one of them. That alone has me super excited (like in a sad and sort of anxious way, the books sound REALLY depressing). I just know I’m going to come out of this class with a lot more knowledge on the subject.

Right now, I’m a little intimidated to be honest. I was assuming that I was going into this with a fair amount of knowledge on the topic, but I feel like all my classmates are about 23090 times more knowledgeable than I am about it. Luckily it’s not a prerequisite to know everything about World War II, I’ve just been feeling a little bit left behind in class discussions.

I really want to make an effort to catch up though. I’m so dangerously shy when it comes to speaking in class, but I know that I KNOW things about this topic and I want to do insanely well in the class… So I’m going to keep trying.

For now though, I’m in the class and there’s no going back. I’m taking it solely for the purpose of interest and I’ve got my fingers crossed that my passion in reading/writing/the subject will mean that I shine through on the assignments.

Wish me luck! 

Sidenote #1: Here’s my book list, in case you’re interested in reading more about the Holocaust as well:

1. Night by Elie Wiesel
2. The Black Seasons by Michal Glowinski
3. The Complete ‘Maus’ (2 Vols) by Art Spiegelman
4. Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi
5. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski

Most of these are non-fiction (apart from ‘Maus’), but if you’re interested in more fictional works you can check out some of my personal recommendations:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. Sarah’s Key by Tatianna De Rosnay
3. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Sidenote #2: I debated adding a photo at the end of this post, but I Googled ‘The Holocaust’ and not surprisingly was basically traumatized. So no photo, also do not Google ‘The Holocaust’ unless you’re prepared for some really sad images. 

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16 responses »

  1. The Holocaust really interests me, as well. We have a Holocaust Museum about 10 minutes from me and I went there with a writing camp one year. So sad but we need to keep learning about it. There are people who swear it didn’t exist so for that reason alone, we need to do all we can to keep the memories of the people who died because of this alive.

    I was going to take a class for fun one summer during college (it was a criminology class. I love stuff like that, ha.) but I would have to pay out-of-pocket for it and I couldn’t. Boo.

    I hope this class turns out to be a good one for you! Also? Dangerously shy describes me to a TEE when it comes to class discussions. I could never find my way in those. Bah.

    • Yeah paying out of pocket is really no fun, but I figured why on earth not? At this point I’ve got nothing to lose.

      I really do need to learn to join into class discussions though. I don’t know why I get so freaked out about them.

      PS: where are you hiding girl?! Are you avoiding Twitter or something?!

  2. The Holocaust, while a very sad time in the world’s history, is one that is very very interesting. When I was in high school I went to a luncheon with Holocaust survivors and sat with one woman who told me her story in a one on one conversation. It’s an experience that still stays with me.

    I read Night a while ago and (though you should be prepared for the depression, of course) it was a really amazing book.

    I also picked up The Book Thief this week at the library for the Forever YA book club this month, but I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    • I’m so excited (SO. EXCITED.) for you to read Book Thief. While I was in Greece two of my friends read it (and the same two both read Looking For Alaska, both at my recommendation) and I creepily loved watching their reactions as they made their way through both of the novels.

      I know you’re going to love it, especially if you enjoy The Holocaust, which I now know you do.

      That luncheon sounds really fascinating. Elie Wiesel gave a speech at my school last year and I MISSED IT. It may be one of my biggest regrets in University so far. Missing that.

  3. This period of history is tragic but also important never to forget the evil which can be done when voices of reason are not present as well as reading up on inspirational triumphs of the human will to survive in the face of evil. I once visited the concentration camp of Dachau (outside of Munich) and was floored by it.

    • I’ve seriously debated whether or not I’d be able to visit the concentration camps. I think maybe one day I will when I’m more knowledgeable on the whole topic (who knows, maybe after this class)… I can only imagine what it’s like in there though.

  4. Night is probably one of my favorite books I read in high school, regardless of subject matter.

    But I also just enjoy reading and watching and learning about the Holocaust. I’m glad there are other people with my same kind of morbid fascination!

    • I totally agree, Night is still hands down one of the only books I truly ENJOYED in the moment during high school. I also vividly remember so much of it, but at the same time have forgotten a lot of it. I’m excited (in a weird way) to pick it back up for this class next week!

  5. This sounds like a really interesting class. The Holocaust is an incredibly sad and tragic time in history but one that is so important to learn about. I’ve always been interested in learning about it as well. In college, my senior thesis was a massive paper that basically spanned 5 semesters worth of independent work. It was emotionally draining but I was able to meet some amazing people, including some survivors.

    • WOW. That sounds like an incredibly fascinating thesis! I feel like I’d have such an inspiring time writing it. It really IS so important to learn about and I’m really taking it to heart so far. I would love to meet some survivors, though I’m not sure what I’d say to them now that I think of it!

  6. I just read a book Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum that I thought was pretty good. It’s fiction, but she was one of the interviewers for Steven Spielberg’s foundation so she has a lot of information to pull from (not that I think you need any more books to read judging from the list). I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about how the class goes.

  7. Pingback: September: A Review « Press Play.

  8. Maus is actually non-fiction! In a contemporary lit class I’m taking this semester, we read Maus I and it was pretty phenomenal. If you like graphic novels, you’ll really like Maus!

  9. Pingback: Holocaust Literature « Press Play.

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