This week turned out to be a little busier than I’d anticipated, but it’s actually been very productive. In addition to completing some long-overdue household tasks, I have officially finished 20% of this year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge!
The first book I finished this week was Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, by Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph. D.
Please be aware that the following paragraphs discuss some aspects of warfare and PTSD. If you are uncomfortable reading about these topics, feel free to skip down to the next book.
Achilles in Vietnam is a very interesting book, not only because it discusses causes, symptoms, and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as it relates to Vietnam combat veterans; but also because it examines the combat experiences of various soldiers in Homer’s Iliad, and compares the military culture of Homer’s epic with the culture that existed for American soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Dr. Shay’s discussion of The Iliad focuses a lot on the character of Achilles, whose character undergoes probably the most dramatic changes throughout the course of the epic. Dr. Shay discusses how moments such as Agamemnon’s betrayal of Achilles, the death of Achilles’s closest friend, and his subsequent berserk actions affect him as a person.
Also included are anonymous stories told by some of Dr. Shay’s patients, all of whom are Vietnam combat veterans. They talk about being in combat, the loss of close friends, and the difficulties they have experienced since returning home.
I found this book to be a very powerful read, and one that I think is worthwhile for anyone trying to understand the causes and reality of PTSD. It is a difficult book to read, however, due to its subject matter. Dr. Shay actually begins with a letter, titled “Author’s Caution to Veterans, Their Families, and Their Friends” prior to the book’s introduction, which I would definitely recommend reading prior to diving into the text.
The other book I finished this week was Lost, by James Patterson and James O. Born. Lost is about a Miami PD detective named Tom Moon. Detective Moon is serving on an FBI task force, which is focused on stopping international crime in the city of Miami. After taking down a suspected human trafficker at the airport, Moon finds himself investigating a human trafficking ring with ties to organized crime in both Amsterdam and Miami.
I loved this book from the very first page! I’ve been reading Patterson for a relatively short amount of time (only a few years), but one thing that always impresses me about his novels is his narrative pacing. They’re always quick, exciting reads, and Lost is no exception. The main character, Tom Moon, is an enjoyable character to follow. He strikes me as the kind of detective that you’d want working your case if you were the victim of a crime. I’m really hoping that we will get more stories about Moon and his task force in the near future.
I’m very excited to have completed the first 20% of the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge so early in the year! I’ve read some wonderful titles over the past four weeks, and I’m looking forward to reading even more.
But before I dive into the rest of the Reading Challenge, I’m going to take a week to read purely for my own enjoyment.
I think it’s important to take breaks during the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge so you don’t find yourself burning out. It’s easy to get into the habit of reading simply to “fulfill a prompt,” which can take some of the pleasure out of reading. I try to take a break at the end of every month to keep myself focused on reading for fun, whether I need the break or not. But if you’re starting to feel like the Reading Challenge is an assignment that you have to complete…it’s time for a break.
Even though I’ll be taking a break from the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, there will still be an update next week (though it may look a little different than normal). I also hope you’ll visit The Unapologetic Bookworm throughout the next week to check out some new book reviews, as well as a special post about TBRs.