Monday, June 15, 2009

Two Book Reviews

(Well, just got finished with two more finals, ...the preparations for which were the reason I still didn't rewrite my TV post.) I read two books this past Shabbat. One was "Five Things I Can't Live Without" by Holly Shumas, and the other was "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler. ...I KNOW! (Craig Ferguson reference).

In regards to the first book: It's a pretty 'fluffy' book, the kind which I wouldn't generally read, but once in while it's nice to read 'lighter' stuff.The book is about how a woman's "meta-life" (don't ask me!) threatens to ruin her relationship. She quits a job writing animal profiles in an animal shelter to write online dating profiles for people. She ends up doing a profile for a guy that she likes, which creates friction with her current relationship...but they work it out. I kind of like reading books like these because they have sort of a "realist" quality to them, in the sense that they convey the actual feelings that people outside of yourself have about the world around them, and the people around them. One thing I picked up while reading it was that, while not criticizing herself, it was evident that the character did things that might give others a feeling of being slighted, which is something she always overlooked. In the meantime, she portrayed her boyfriend as being not fully in tune with her needs and what she was thinking, and becomes overly self-conscious when he says things to her that the average person would consider benign. I guess that's at least somewhat representative of how most people see the world..
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On a religious level, I think it may be important to become involved in the study of relationships. The Torah is not explicit down to the last letter in regards to "what to do in a relationship", and just as the Torah would have you go to an expert in medicine to make your body healthy, and to go to an expert in architecture to make for you a building in which to worship, it would also have you read "relationship books" to discover the best means with which to get along with a spouse. No?

In regards to Hitler: Well, there's obviously a lot to be said about Hitler...as he was quite the interesting character. It's interesting to read about what an unassuming background he emerged from (especially if your only other book is "Five Things I Can't Live Without" by Holly Shumas). I obviously didn't read the whole book in one day, but there is one passage which I did read which stood out to me, and which I wish to mention here. Which is that Hitler actually started off as being the opposite of an antisemite. He stood up for the Jews who were being bullied by Christians. Yet little by little his opinions started to change. One of the tipping points for Hitler were the conversations he had about politics with his Jewish (Communist) friends. He was a great hater of Marxism and of the German Social Democratic Party in general (which he suspected was run by Jews. ..not different than it is in America). During his conversations with them (trying to convert them into German nationalists I guess) he came to realize that they had very sly methods of arguing their point, in which they were always right. Their constant snake-like argumentative tactics against the nationalist party infuriated him, and that is one of the first times he came to hate Jews.

The first thing I learn from that is: he seemed to actually be much more friendly towards Jews than his policies would suggest. But the lesson of this to me is that you never know when someone is judging your entire race or religion based on their interactions with you. It is always, therefore, better to be on the safe side and be as accommodating as possible, since there was a group of Jews in the past who, through having a conversation with an unassuming individual, sealed the fate of their people.

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