9. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
Oh lord, where do I even start with that question? Hmm. OK, so, I’m gonna be super morbid here and talk about a book I read in college. I was taking a class entitled Reading the Holocaust (or something like that. Pooky, can you remember? I know you didn’t take the class but you probably heard me talk about it?) and one of the books on the reading list was Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man. It’s a haunting account of Levi’s years spent in the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, and while it makes for a heart-rendering, upsetting read I really feel it’s a book that you should read given the chance.
Levi doesn’t exude emotion through his written words and that’s some of what makes it such an unsettling read. It’s very matter of fact, almost nonchalant, in its manner. I could spend hours debating the reasoning behind this. Perhaps Levi had to detach himself emotionally in order to move on with his life (yet this idea in itself is flawed as the circumstances surrounding his death are shrouded in secrecy. Many argue that it was suicide.) Perhaps the torture he endured was so regular he became somewhat immune to it and simply couldn’t write about it any other way.
Anyway, I’m going slightly off point here. It saddens me greatly that millions upon millions of people had their lives cut short in such a brutal manner (and it’s worth bearing in mind that even now genocides still occur far too often – mankind never learns from history) and I found that I had some kind an affinity with these people. I’ve never experienced anything that even comes within a millionth of a mile of what these people experienced, but I still feel connected to them. I don’t know why, I just do. I can’t explain it, but all I know is that I wanted to visit Auschwitz.
And a few years ago that’s just what I did. Words cannot even describe the emotions I was confronted with there. It’s something that has to be experienced. It’s like the walls of that godforsaken place absorbed the horror and agony experienced within and it’s these feelings that are projected upon modern day tourists. It’s heartbreaking, traumatic and sickening yet it’s a place that everyone should visit. Maybe then people would band together to ensure history doesn’t just keep on repeating itself.