17 March 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Read This Before You Die and How Many Books at Once?


This week's Literary Blog Hop, sponsored by The Blue Bookcase, asks what work is it you must read before dying.  I spend most of my time recommending to other people what I think they should be reading--after all, it's my job as a bookseller to do that.  Not that I fancy myself a tastemaker or anything like that, but I do try to listen to every customer and synthesize their likes and dislikes to come up with the perfect book they should read.  Now I'm going to turn the tables on myself and make a recommendation to me.  Though I consider myself quite well read amidst English language literature, both classic and contemporary, I've read lamentably few works from other languages.  Therefore, I recommend to myself that I should read more so-called world literature, particularly the Russians, before I die.  I need to tackle Nabokov and Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.  Round them off with a little Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn. Maybe learn if there are any Russian women of letters I should know aside from Anna Akhmatova, who is the only one I can think of!

Clearly NOT my photo!

This week's Book Blogger Hop, sponsored by Crazy For Books, asks whether we read more than one book at a time.  Frankly, I can't remember the last time I only had one book going, and I suppose that juggling 3-4 books is pretty typical.  I've got the book-of-the-moment, the one I cannot put down, that I read each night before falling asleep.  The book I read at the breakfast table each morning--usually a work of nonfiction that is easy to dip into and out of for brief intervals.  There's the, ahem, bathroom book.  And at least half of the time I've got an audio book going in my car or there's a fanfiction novel I'm reading online.  I own an e-reader (technically it belongs to the bookstore but nobody else ever seems to want it) but I find I like it best when I'm traveling, so I don't have an e-book constantly going unless I am also on the go. 

23 comments:

  1. Lou Andreas-Salomé - interesting female Russian author - late-1800s. She corresponded with some of the great philosophers and psychologists of the time(Nietzsche, Freud, etc.) though she's rarely mentioned, of course.

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  2. Thanks, Adam. I should have known you'd be able to help out on that point. :)

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  3. You should follow Akhmatova with Tvsetaeva. And don't leave out Pushkin among the heavyweights. Did you know Jennifer and I first met in our college Tolstoy class?

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  4. Nice response! I'm really lacking in the Russian department, too. I love Nabokov, but he's the only one I've read (and a lot of his works weren't originally written in Russian) so yeah, I definitely need to get on that.

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  5. At the moment I'm reading a book called "The Dream Life of Sukhanov" by Olga Grushin & i'm loving it. this was shortlisted for the Orange award for new writers 2006 & has been described as- haunting, stunning, heartbreaking & Wonderful by the press, in fact, The Independent said"So good I felt like buying 10 copies & sending them to friends....Grushin reminds us of what makes the best of Russian culture soar to fantastic heights" hope this helps, as it's a beautiful tale with a proper Russian sorrow at its heart.

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  6. Not everyone can multi-task and nobody should. When it comes to book sure, I can't read four books simultaneously (or even two, for that matter!) but there are times I'll juggle as many as four books at a time depending on the subject matter, the urgency or more often both.

    The real trick to this is what KINDS of books to juggle. Hop on over to my blog and learn the method behind my madness - http://www.howardshermannet
    Howard Sherman
    http://www.howardsherman.net

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  7. The Russians are my love! Crime & Punishment is one of my favorite books of all time. Nabokov & Bulgakov are literally sitting right in front of me now--they're giving me the stink-eye 'cause they're jealous of Dostoyevsky. Try Tatyana Tolstaya--she has a collection of stories White Walls--a pretty NYRB paperback.

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  8. Coming through on the blog hop.

    I will read two books only if I am slightly bored with the first one!

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  9. I read more than one book at a time, sometimes three, sometimes five!

    I read varied genres, have a truly eclectic taste in books. Feel free to explore my blog, browse mt reviews.

    Here is my Book Blogger Hop/Follow Friday post!

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  10. I love world literature and do agree that the Russians are wonderful too. I also recommend The Leopard by di Lampedusa (Italian). Czech literature is also worth exploring after you are done with the Russians. Happy exploring!

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  11. Hi,

    Found you through the Hop and now following, too! You have a great blog and touch on so many interesting literary themes. Very much looking forward to reading your future posts!

    Take care & happy reading,
    Ms C
    http://www.coffeetalereviews.blogspot.com/

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  12. Hopping through. I'd go for the Russians too. Specifically Dostoevsky or Tolstoy. Or James Joyce.
    My Hop

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  13. Rich, I did not remember that you and Jennifer had met in a Tolstoy class. Thanks for the poetry rec!

    Mystica, I wonder at what point you stop reading the book you're bored with?

    Gautami Tripathy, I'm actually already a follower of yours.

    Kinna, The Leopard is the only di Lampedusa work I've read and I agree that it's great!

    Ms C, thanks for stopping by. I'll come check you out soon.

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  14. Hopping by, is there anything better than books and travel :) I love traveling, I'm just abysmal at blogging about it!

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  15. Interesting how many people (including me) chose Russian authors. I really had a hard time with Dostoevsky when younger, so never got to Tolstoy, which feels like a big gap in my reading today. I'm also curious about Gogol after reading The Namesake, but no one ever mentions him.

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  16. bookstop, it's funny you should say that. After reading The Namesake I picked up a book of Gogol's stories and read a few but I didn't make it through the entire book. He did seem a bit more accessible than the one Bulgakov I attempted, but I've never even opened to page one on the other great Russians.

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  17. Stopping by on the hop. I've read Nabokov and I must say he is fantastic. Simply a great writer.

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  18. True, most of us don't read enough of the Russians! It's been a long time for me, too. But I think I would try the younger generation of Russian writers.

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  19. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I also need to read more Russian lit "before I die".

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  20. I'm attempting the Russians, well, a Russian, Tolstoy, this year. W&P. Will I ever finish this book? Will I ever become dazzled by it? Or will it continue to be drudgery all the way to the end?

    Here's my post: http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-you-must-read-before-you-die.html

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  21. My friend loves Crime and Punishment more than anything ever, and basically all my Russian profs and TAs recommended Master and Margarita. The only stuff I've read though is Nabokov, and of the eight I had to get through, I'd recommend Pnin and Pale Fire (both originally in English). Pnin is hilaaaarious and sad, and Pale Fire's just different.

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Please, sir, may I have some more? (Comments, that is!)