Book #1 Of 2012: The Things They Carried By Tim O’Brien.

12 Jan

Though I have not set a goal to read a certain amount of books in 2012, I’m still planning to keep track of how many/which books I read and hopefully having the time to review each one. Yesterday, right before my media ethics class, I finished my first book of 2012: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Though it was centered around the Vietnam war, it was also a story of love, friendship, and it demonstrated the craft of writing that all writers should seek to emulate.

Here’s the synopsis found on the back of the book:

“They carried malaria tablets, love letters, z8-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated Bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.”

Okay, doesn’t that just sound amazing?! Well…maybe not to everyone. The Things They Carried was one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Even though I’m normally not a fan of war stories, this one was different. It focused on the human capacity of emotion. How much can one take before life just feels unbearable? What aspects of life can help someone realize that they have a life worth living? I think we all think of these types of questions, and this novel tries to answer them (though not directly, of course). I’d like to share with you my favorite few sentences from the book:

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better reason for why writers write. O’Brien hits the nail on the head. Writers write because it’s what keeps us going, it’s our oxygen, it’s the way we deal with the complexities and confusing aspects of life. We write, we write until the feelings are out, until the words are full of so much emotion that we feel lighter, until we can breathe a sigh of relief, until our readers understand….until, ultimately, there’s nothing more to say.


6 Responses to “Book #1 Of 2012: The Things They Carried By Tim O’Brien.”

  1. awarewriter January 12, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    The Things They Carried is a masterpiece.

  2. Stephen Zawodzinski January 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I love this book- we had to read it in high school and it still ranks as one of the best books I read before going to college.

  3. lolahbf January 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    It’s true what you wrote. All those times when I couldn’t express my emotions, I wrote and I could work it out from there. All those times I was depressed, angry, happy etc. . . I wrote. And the more I write, the more addicted I become 😀

  4. TBM January 13, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    I’ve been meaning to read this…thanks for the review.

  5. Karen (formerly kcinnova) January 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    I’ll have to put this book on my list. We have a new generation of soldiers coming home with difficult memories; perhaps reading this book will shed some light on what society can do to help.

    Thanks for your kind comment over on my blog!

  6. morelife4me February 17, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    i have put this on my personal list of books i want to read.
    thanks for the suggestion 🙂

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