Thursday, 2 March 2017

Reading my books - Memoirs of an Infantry Officer

Today, the second of March, is World Book Day so it seems appropriate to have a book review today.

I don't remember World Book Day when I was a child, I will have to look back and see when it started.  I just went and looked, it started in 1995, so no, it wasn't around when I was a child!!!  I think it is great idea and a great way to get children reading for pleasure.  In fact to get anyone reading for pleasure.  I am a great advocate of just reading, something, anything.  It doesn't have to be the highest greatest literature.  Surely it is better to read something than nothing at all.

My latest finish - which I confess I still have about 10 pages to finish but I will finish it today - is Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon.  Sassoon is a famous for his World War 1 writings.  He wrote poetry and prose and was an officer in the army during the war.  This book is part of a series called the Sherston Trilogy and this is the middle book.  I haven't read the other two.

This book focuses on the period from spring 1916 to summer 1917 during Sassoon's period at the Somme and then being injured and sent back to England.  It tells small tales of everyday life.  Some of which are truly horrifying and others which are those little amusing anecdotes of life, such as Sassoon purchasing a whole salmon in England and then taking it back to the trenches with him...  Can you imagine.

The book is actually written as a fiction with the main character being a man called George Sherston.  However, the facts are all real, the only things that are not are the names of the characters.  This is borne out by the fact that in later life Sassoon wrote his own account of his life and events mirrored those in the Sherston Trilogy.

In a way I felt that the book was rather akin to a blog.  Sassoon simply writes, this happened today and then this happened and then this, which is the way many of us bloggers write our own records or memoirs of life isn't it. 

The book was written quite simply with just the facts and details of life being shared, no opinion, no embellishment, just a tale of life and death as it was happening.

I found the book hard going I have to say.  This was for two reasons, one the subject matter, two the style of writing.  The subject was of course very hard to read about.  Although Sassoon is almost blasé about what is happening and simply records the facts, the facts are of course horrifying and terribly upsetting to read about so I could only take so much of that at one time.  Additionally, sometimes the writing, although of course very good, seemed to go on rather.  It made me think about my own writing and how I need to work on my style more.

So this brings me round to what did I think and what will be happening to the book next.  Well, I cannot honestly say that I enjoyed this book, but, I don't think it is a book to be enjoyed.  It is a book to learn from to experience what real life was like during that time period and looking at it from that standpoint it was a good read because I certainly learned a lot.  I will not be reading this book again and I will be returning this copy to the person who gave it to me because they said they would like to have it back again if I don't wish to keep it.  So back it goes which is a good thing.

You can find all of my other book reviews here or by clicking Reading My Books at the top right of the sidebar.

I hope that whatever you are reading today on World Book Day that it is a good book, that you enjoy it or learn something from it, or just enjoy sitting with a book.  Don't worry about whether it is great literature or not, just get reading!

Happy World Book Day!



  1. I am currently reading Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run." It's an interesting book, and I am enjoying it, but it has changed how I perceive his music. I preferred how I listened to the music before the book, so this is regrettable. Maybe once the book has been finished for a while, I can go back to the way I used to hear those favourite songs of mine.
    A huge positive of the book is that it has greatly inspired me to do more of the things that I love. I'm not sure why I needed encouragement in this area, but there it is.
    Books are odd in the way the change our minds about things, like how your mind took a turn into thinking about your style of writing while reading a book about WW1.

  2. I sometimes have trouble reading books like that. I have to be in a certain kind of mood.

    I love to read - I read a lot. World Book Day is after my time too lol. When my kids were little I encouraged them to read what interested them. I think sometimes we expect kids to read certain things or they have to read and then they don't always find the joy in reading. I always tried to read to my kids before bedtime (unless I had a part-time evening job at the time). I read them several of the Harry Potter books when they first came out. Quite a read! They loved them.

    As adults all three of them enjoy reading and I'm glad I passed my love of reading on to them as my mother did to me.

  3. Reading about war is always difficult, and for some reason reading about WWI is often just horrendous.

  4. It sounds like a fascinating read! I had no idea today was World Book Day!

  5. Enjoyed learning about World Book Day and the book you're currently reading. In honor of WBD I think I will pick out 5 books to donate and post about for tomorrow's 5-On-Friday. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Pretty good to complete a book you aren't excited about reading, but like you said, it was a book to learn from. It was also interesting to hear you compare it to a blog. I've been doing WW II books, and maybe should consider the first war. And I didn't know about World Book Day. Interesting.

  7. Yes, appropriate for World Book Day, although I didn't realise it had a day of it's own. So many things have "days" it is hard to keep up. Sounds an interesting book, though I don't do as much reading as I used to, but do read all sorts books & magazines that take my interest, hence I use our library a lot now.

  8. Hi Amy,
    I always have a book going. I enjoy reading, but mostly happy fictional type books that take place in warm beachy climates! Lol! I also enjoy cookbooks too. I know, weird. But I especially love cookbooks that tell history of where food came from and how traditions got started. I had no idea it was World Book Day. Thanks for giving me an excuse to sit and read when I should be cleaning house!


  9. I can understand why it wasn't an enjoyable read but I quite agree with your comment that some books are there to be curled up with a good read but are there for telling us uncomfortable truths.
    Lisa x


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