Being part of a book club is both good and bad, and it’s for the same reason: you read a lot of books you wouldn’t normally pick up. This month we’re tackling All Quiet on the Western Front, which the cover assured me is “The GREATEST WAR NOVEL of ALL TIME.” It seems hyperbolic, but at the same time I’m inclined to agree – not that I’ve read many war novels. The heart of this novel, although it does its best to hide it, is grief; grief that so many young men had to sacrifice their lives, and if not their lives, then their selves. How does the horror of war become so ordinary and yet remain so horrific? It’s beautifully written, and reminds me of nothing so much as The Catcher in the Rye: the quiet tale of huge emotion – something understatedly heartbreaking.
So let this be a lesson: books you think are going to be boring are not always boring, and sometimes classics are classics for a reason.