Friday, August 31, 2012

Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy

Oh my! For years I have picked up Anna Karenina in bookstores and libraries and thought of reading it, only to return it to the shelf, not ready to tackle the monstrosity. I finally succumbed to the pressure from one of my Classics reading friends who has been anxious to discuss it with me. Well, I am done!

Anna is a classic in style, in prose, in characterization, in societal and cultural issues of the day and in addressing love, marriage, jealousy, religion, depression and death. Tolstoy gives us real people with real problems and delves into their inner turmoil as they struggle to make choices. He shows us how these decisions affect each character individually and as a part of society.

One of the main themes throughout the novel is love in marriage. Tolstoy uses two characters, Levin and Anna, to compare and contrast marital love. While Anna is trapped in a loveless marriage and seeks comfort in another man's arms, Levin truly loves his wife and works to keep that love strong. He takes us along the path as each faces the consequences of their actions. Many other relationships are explored through these pages as well.

In addition, Tolstoy presents long and tedious expositions about farming and Russian politics. For me, this interfered with the flow of the story and required much persistence to "get back to the good parts." And although I hate giving away too much, I was frustrated to have invested so much into Anna only to come to that final decision of hers.

It was mostly good, I am glad to say I have read it, but it is long my friends.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Must Read Literature

Ever on the lookout for book lists, I found a new one that I thought was really cool:

Monday, August 6, 2012


by Bram Stoker

A few years ago several of my reading buddies were abuzz over The Historian, which at that time I didn't add to my "to-read" list. A few weeks ago, I was discussing with a friend that I was contemplating reading it now and her instant response was, "Have you read Dracula?" Well, no I never had and from her tone I assumed that must be read first. Since the timing was right, I decided to do the audiobook, and even though I loved listening to this story, as I was listening I kept thinking, "I wish I were reading this!" May be partly due to my lack of enthusiasm for the book I was actually reading.

Undoubtedly, you know the basic premise of Dracula, but in case you too have never read it, the book is written as a series of journal entries that give an account of the quest of Van Helsing and friends to destroy this evil among men. Even though I was listening to this story, I could tell that Stoker did a great job of distinguishing the voices of his characters, including the two women. He also portrayed the Count just as he was, a non-emotional entity, terrorizing generations of people, living off the blood of innocent victims and gathering a dedicated army of followers. No teen romance vampire here!

I liked many many things about this book: the strong female character, Mina Murray, the tough American, the insane asylum and Renfro, the discovery process of the group as they began to understand who Dracula was and how he must be conquered, the dedication these friends had to one another, to future victims and to God, and the presentation of the story through the perspective of each character. 

If you haven't read it, you should. And now that I'm cleared to read The Historian, it's going to have to go in the queue.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Bird Sisters

by Rebecca Rasmussen

If you read my last post, you already know how I felt about The Bird Sisters. And if you read my last post you'll understand that I had high expectations because it got rave reviews. And when I kept forcing myself back to read just one more chapter before playing 7 little words, I also kept wondering what I was missing since I wasn't so enthralled by this story. But I really just didn't care. I didn't particularly like the main characters, I didn't like what was going on in the story, I wasn't overly impressed with the writing style, the plot was slow, nothing much really happened and nothing much was really resolved, even though the author kept going back to wrap it up. When she finally did finish writing, I was glad to be done, but not really glad I fought myself to finish it. 

But, don't let my harsh criticism deter you.... many readers found it "a beautiful debut novel" (wonder if they read the whole thing). I know; I'm sassy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


It was a slow July for reading and I'd like to make several excuses, none of which is very good: heat, headaches, school prep, and several word games that keep distracting me. However, the main reason is because this month I have made poor book selections. The books I have chosen haven't been holding my attention, but I have begrudgingly stuck with them as I have no other pressing alternatives. If you've read a great book lately I'd love to hear your suggestions. 

And another diversion from my usual posts. I recently read a blog post by a "professional reader" asking how much of a book a person needed to read before they could say they read the book. I have always thought in order to say you've read a book you must have read the entire thing, but apparently I am way off base. This blogger, who reads and reviews books for a living, along with most of those who responded to his post, said that after halfway, you could consider it read! HMMMM, that explains a LOT! I have frequently wondered how certain books could get such glowing reports... now I know.