Sunday, July 15, 2007

Attempting to Review Books

I have discovered many great books through the blogs of others so I thought I'd share about a couple of books I've recently read. However, as a precursor to this post, I want to warn you of a couple of things...

1) Except for the fact that I knit while I read, this post is entirely non-knitting related.
2) I am not a literary expert so you will only be getting my humble opinion versus an eloquent review of the books I present.
3) In considering my opinion, you should know that I am a woman of conservative moral opinions who also happens to be watching the Saturday Night Live that I tivoed last night while I write this. (I think it's always good to know the perspective from which the reviewer is reviewing.)

As I mentioned some time ago, my buddy Julie and I began this book some time ago as a plan to encourage each other to get into some of the classics of literature. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised... I really enjoyed this book. I am a great fan of historical fiction so I fell into this book quite easily. However while it was fiction, it was more than just a historians take on a moment in time, it was the highly intuitive and perceptive reflections of a very real man living in pre-socialist Russia.

Fyodor Doestoevsky had amazing insight into humanity. He demonstrates a remarkable understanding of human nature on both an individual and societal level. His characters are each representative of a prevalent attitude or perspective on the encroaching ideas of Marxism, socialism and humanism on Orthodox Russia. I'm sure there is much to this book that my limited understanding of these times kept hidden from me, but it was a fascinating and enlightening read in spite of this. At the same time, I'm sure it was an undoubtedly rich and provoking read for the people of it's time. (As much as I highly recommend this book, I must note my disappointment in the ending. Although, I must admit that I have a thing about endings... and since I have yet to be asked to write a classic piece of literature, my opinion here is most surely short-sighted.)

I have mixed feelings about this one. It was a quick, light read. Set in Africa, and based on the undercover work of the intriguing Mma Ramotswe, it drew me in, got me quickly through a sock (which is a plus), but then seemed to lose steam as it became a series of brief, easily solved cases. I couldn't help compare the sophisticated Mma Ramotswe to my new favorite lady detective, the abrasive, socially impaired Agatha Raisin who I just find so much more fun to read about. I knew this was the first in a series of books and by the time I was about 3/4 of the way through, I knew this would be the only one for me. However... much to my surprise... upon finishing the book, I immediately added the sequel to my Amazon list.

On deck...

Yes, quite a variety.
Agatha Raisin... Sure to please (and produce a sock or two).
Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elizabeth Elliot... Definitely needed.

Are You Liberal? Conservative? or Confused? ... I just started to read this one today and am already halfway through. It is a part of a series of "Uncle Eric" books in which the author attempts to make economics, law, and politics (and the flaws that lie therein) more readily understandable for the average person. While he is the first to admit that it is impossible to approach such subjects without bias (as is it to offer an entirely unbiased review), he attempts to shed some light on the ideals and goals of present day political parties and systems around the world in the simplest of terms. Politics made quick and fun... you betcha!

His own perspective is quite interesting in itself as he is neither conservative nor liberal yet instead steps outside the present notions of government and leans more towards a view comparable to that of our founding fathers. A view that sees government more as a necessary evil than a savior. I will surely have my sons read through his books in high school for a quick and easy course on economics, etc. and to encourage them to step outside the mold and think a bit more independently on some of these subjects.

So there you have it... if you've stuck with me so far.

And if you don't feel like reading, I most emphatically recommend the first two seasons of House on DVD... (You know... in case I haven't mentioned it before.)


Donna Boucher said...

I have noticed after reading a great book ie The Brothers and then reading a book from today's popular culture...they just can't and don't measure up.

Really the classics are great and weighty.

And the newbies are feather light, really.

I think the farther you get from your classic experience (just weeks really) the more you will be able to enjoy the fluff.

And I don't think it is bad to enjoy to fluff.

I happen to love the fluff.

But right after reading a weightier seems the fluffy stuff just seems too fluffy.

Do you know what I mean?

I am going to read Brothers.
Have you and your friend had much time to discuss the book together?

km said...

Awhile back my husband mentioned something about The Brothers Karamazov, he'd heard of it from an ESPN sportscaster, or in their magazing. Our worlds don't usually collide (him sports, me knitting) other than I knit while he watches sports. So, I shocked that I had read something about The Brothers on a knitting blog. We bought it this weekend (I get 15% coupons from Barnes & Noble...had to wait for that). We bought the audio version (unabridged) as my husband drives many hours for work each day. I'm next in line for the CD. I'll be sure to let you know what I think...especially since I heard about The Brothers here. I'm really interested in this book because of the other Russian novels that I've read, and because I've been there (1993).

And, Elizabeth Elliott is one of my all time favorites, but I haven't read that one yet either.

One of my favorite novels that I've read recently is Safely Home by Randy Alcorn.|19805|1001 I've been to China too, and what freaked me out about this book, was that although it was fiction, it was surprisingly real.

Wow...sorry about the long comment. Maybe I should have posted and sent you the link.