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Archives > [February] All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr - Part 1

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message 1: by Laura, Celestial Sphere Mod (last edited Jan 29, 2017 06:49AM) (new)

Laura | 3823 comments Mod
We had a rather exciting voting process this time and the results ended in a tie. But that's ok, we just get to have two Books of the Month! The first winner is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This time around, there will be three sections, one at the beginning, halfway through, and the end. The moderators are asking for volunteers to write the questions for parts 2 and 3 of this selection. If you're interested, please shoot a mod a message :)

Moderators will begin the conversation but if you post an answer to these questions then please post your own question at the end. Then the person after you answers your question and posts their own. This will create a chain of questions/answers, much like the style of "Person Below Me".

For more information about the book of the month, see the Introduction post.

Part 1: Before starting
Part 2: 0-50%
Part 3: 51-100%

Part 1 Questions:
1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?
2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?
4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
5. Answer the question posed by the person above you!


message 2: by Bryony, Circumnavigation Mod (new)

Bryony (bryony46) | 1058 comments Mod
If I have time I'm hoping to read both the choices for February's book of the month and I'm looking forward to getting started with this one soon.

1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?
I enjoy learning about most periods of history but I'm probably most interested in twentieth century history, particularly revolutionary and anti-colonial movements.

2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
I'd probably be too scared! But if I did then it would be to a time when huge changes were happening, such as early twentieth century Russia.

3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?
I'm currently reading Wolf Hall which I'm enjoying a lot so far. It's not the easiest read as there is a lot of detail to keep track of, but it's very well written and enjoyable nonetheless.

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
I'm interested in both, but possibly more in the boy as I'm interested in how he came to be in the Hitler Youth - does he actually share its values? Was he coerced into it? Is he hoping to gain some kind of personal advantage from it?

And my question to the next person is: When you start reading a work of historical fiction, do you like to learn a bit about the period first (eg from a non-fiction book) or do you prefer to learn about it as you read?


message 3: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 9 comments 1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?
I find world war two the most interesting period to read about. I think because I still have grandparents alive who were teenagers and lived/worked through the war it's very relatable. It's still memorable history for some- albeit just!

2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
I'd definitely be too scared! Theoretically just after world war two perhaps... but, I I'm definitely too much of a coward.

3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?
I've just finished Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. It's great. It follows three women (a polish girl in Ravensbruck concentration camp, a female Nazi Dr in the same camp and an American socialite/heroine). It's also very historically accurate and heartbreaking/heartwarming all at the same time!

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
I'm also interested in both. The young boy is perhaps more of a unique perspective so maybe him. Everybody is human, so understanding peoples rationale (if any) for brutal and horrendous acts interests me.

When you start reading a work of historical fiction, do you like to learn a bit about the period first (eg from a non-fiction book) or do you prefer to learn about it as you read?
I usually prefer to learn about it as I read. Lilac girls made me so intrigues by Ravensbruck camp and the real stories, both prisoners and staff that I did a lot of research as I went along. My husband is a bit of a WW2 boff, so I often ask him things and he's happy to talk for hours!!

And my question to the next person is:

Are you reading this book because you like historic fiction, or is it more this particular story that has grabbed you?


message 4: by Rachel (new)

Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 2633 comments I actually read this book as part of my challenge last year, but I will participate as best as I can in the discussion from memory.

1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?
I love history. I actually considered double-majoring in history, but decided against it because I didn't want to take on too much at the time...kind of regret it now. I've always been very interested in Tudor England, and also in ancient Greece and Rome. I would love to learn more about the history of Japan and China.

2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
I probably would, but I'm also a coward when it comes to these kinds of things. I'd probably worry about getting killed in a war, or catching the plague or something!

3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?
One of the best ones I read in the past few years was The Nightingale. I loved it because it told a WWII story from a perspective I'd never seen before -- of French citizens during the German invasion.

I also really love The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I've read quite a few Holocaust stories over the years, but this was by far the best.

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
I don't remember being more interested in one over the other before I started, but once I started reading, I was much more interested by the young boy's story.

5. Are you reading this book because you like historic fiction, or is it more this particular story that has grabbed you?
It was a little bit of both. I like historical fiction in general, but this story seemed intriguing. I'd also read so many positive reviews of the book before I gave it a try, and wanted to see what the hype was about.

Also, I wanted to weigh in on the question prior to that one -- about whether I research the real history before I start to read. In general, I tend to read the book first and then "fact-check" it afterwards, by researching to find out which parts or characters were real.

New question:How do you think this story will be different from others set during the Holocaust?


message 5: by Silvia (new)

Silvia Turcios | 1071 comments 1. Which historical period do you find most interesting? I enjoy stories set in the 19th century, because there were so many changes in many fields.

2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?Definitely I would love time travel, but not really sure which time period I would choose.

3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing? I am not a fan of historical fiction, but I really liked The Book Thief and The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, however I suffered a lot with both ... and maybe that is why I am not a fan.

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other? I am interested in both, but I am a little bit more curious about what they have to say about the German boy.

5. How do you think this story will be different from others set during the Holocaust? Maybe because we will see the story from two different perspectives, and one of them is from a member of the Hitler Youth.

My question: What do you enjoy most when you read historical fiction books?


message 6: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 182 comments Like Rachel, I read this last year for my IRL book club, but I hope to participate from memory!

1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?
I love the old west (1850-1900, Western USA), and frequently choose to read books and/or watch stories from that time period.
2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
I would LOVE to time travel! I would particularly love to go back and visit with my grandparents and get to know them better; especially the one I never met!
3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?
I loved Gone With the Wind, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Children of the Promise series, Little Women, A Woman's Place - a bunch!
4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
I really preferred the girl's story, although I did find the boy's plot line interesting.
5. What do you enjoy most when you read historical fiction books?
I love learning more about historical events and seeing how they effect everyday lives. I feel like I learn so much more from them than I do from studying the time period in text books.
My question: What do you think the title refers to? Allegorical light or literal?


message 7: by Sam (last edited Feb 08, 2017 12:13PM) (new)

Sam | 316 comments I read this early last year, and I'm hoping to start re-reading it next week.

1. Which historical period do you find most interesting? Hard to say, maybe Tudor England, height of the Persian Empire, revolutionary USA, Mughal India... I find a lot of periods and places interesting!

2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
I would definitely time travel, but I'd probably go to future rather than back to the past.

3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?
I read The Women in the Castle which I thought was very well done and could be this year's All The Light We Cannot See or The Nightingale, I've also recently read and enjoyed The Signal Flame, The Essex Serpent, and Days Without End. And among my all time favorites are The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Burial Rites.

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
I've read it before and did prefer the girl's story overall, but I enjoyed both plotlines.

5.What do you enjoy most when you read historical fiction books?
The sense of place and time, and being able to immerse myself in a distinct culture and mode of behavior from the past.

*6. What do you think the title refers to? Allegorical light or literal?
I think the light is both: literal for Marie-Laure who is blind, but allegorical in terms of the metaphorical darkness encroaching during WWII and the hope and goodness and morality the characters must choose to cling to and protect in the face of war and destruction and darkness.

My question: In addition to historical fiction, do you also like to read history nonfiction books or biographies of major figures in history? Are there periods/people you prefer reading as nonfiction versus fiction, or vice versa, and why?


message 8: by Soarent (last edited Feb 09, 2017 02:45PM) (new)

Soarent | 10 comments 1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?

I always loved the renaissance. I think it was the start of a revolution in art and way of thinking.

2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?

I'd love to time travel. Being able to view the past in ways that could never be replicated would just be such a amazing experience. I think I would go to ancient Egypt since I love the mythology and would be interested in seeing the pyramids form.

3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?

I haven't read to much historical fiction so I don't have many to choose from, but when I was in middle school I read "My brother Sam is dead" and thought it was a great read.

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?

I think the POV of the boy will be a little more interesting since their is very little known about what these kids went through.

5. Do you think historical fiction is often side-lined in favor of other genres (I'm not thinking of any specific examples just your experience e.g. whether it's the way you can browse on a certain website or which genres are discussed in newsletters) making it less accessible? For example, do you actively seek out 'historical fiction' books, as a genre in its own right, or do you often come across them as a result of searching other genres such as crime, romance, etc? Hope my question makes sense!

I do think historical fiction is definitely "side-lined" a lot. I think since people learn in school so much about history maybe they aren't as interested in exploring it farther. Even though I have loved the books I've read in the genre I still always find myself going back to fantasy or sci-fi since its more of a dream world.

My question is:
For your life has any of your family been impacted by WW2? Any connection you notice between you and the story?


message 9: by Ali (new)

Ali (alide_08) | 213 comments 1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?
From my TBR list I like a whole lot of WWII, though I think it's getting a little old. I enjoy 1960s as well as Victorian England.

2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
I think I'd have fun in Paris in the 1920s and 30s. Besides then every other time period that interests me sounds a tad too dangerous.

3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?
I really enjoy Sara Waters as an author, Affinity was my absolute favorite and I recommend it to anyone who will listen.

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
Probably the young boy in Hitler Youth. Having read so much about the Holocaust I find myself really stunned and interested in the role of complacent or actively involved Germans.

5. For your life has any of your family been impacted by WW2? Any connection you notice between you and the story?
This question made me want to talk to my grandparents about WWII which is something I've never done. My family is from Portugal and we emigrated from there to the USA in the 1960s. None of my relatives served or were involved in WWII to my knowledge.

My question is:
Why did you pick this book and not the other option (Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi).


message 10: by Kelly (last edited Feb 21, 2017 12:15PM) (new)

Kelly Brown | 379 comments I am doing both BOTMs, and this is my second read, but my first choice. This was the one that I actually voted for. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for at least two years now, so it is nice to actually delve into it!

1. Which historical period do you find most interesting?
2. If you could time travel, would you? What time period would you pick?
3. Is there a historical fiction book that you really liked or found amazing?

(I answered the above in Homegoing part 1.)

4. The story follows two main characters, a girl who is blind living in France and a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Are you more intrigued about reading about one character over the other?
I am interested in both actually. I picked this book up because of the praise it got from fellow readers, so I want to meet both of these characters and see where their stories take me.

5. Answer the question posed by the person above you!
I am the wrong person to answer the question above me. I read Homegoing. I actually picked two besides All The Light, that if they won, I would try to read also, and one of those was Homegoing. I really liked Homegoing, so much so, that I think more than All The Light at the moment. And I am about halfway through.

I am not going to leave a question, with hopes the next person can answer Ali's!


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