From Battling Dyslexia to Reading Anna Karenina
I have a confession, but first I want to know how many works of "classic" literature you have read? I’ll admit, I haven’t read many.
If you have been following along over the past few months, you might know this already, but if you are new to Bookworm with a View, you might find it interesting to learn that I didn’t read much as a child, and I certainly didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I often tried to write book reports using only the details found on the back cover. I have memories of writing these reports in grade school, and I recall how much I struggled to write a paragraph or two stating what I liked and disliked about a particular book.
Looking back on these memories, it would have been so much easier if I did the actual reading!
This sad story continues (but I can promise you it has a happy ending). Somewhere between sixth and seventh grade I was diagnosed with a form of dyslexia. This explained why it was hard for me to remember what I read! How was a young girl expected to enjoy reading when it’s the cause of frustration?
In the 70s, dyslexia was mostly thought of as transposing letters and reading backwards, so imagine how excited my parents must have been to find out that my retention level could only improve. After a few years of tutoring and being taught some tricks, I consider myself cured of dyslexia. I’m not sure if this is entirely true, but it doesn’t play an important role in my life anymore, and that is what’s most important.
This brings me to what I would like to discuss today: classic novels.
At this stage in my life, I am caught up on most of the classics that my friends have mentioned reading as a child/young woman. I have read everything from William Shakespeare to Jane Austin, and just last year I tackled Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. If you haven’t read it, I do recommend it, his writing is timeless.
Over the years, several of the members of the Omaha Bookworm’s have mentioned wanting to read Anna Karenina. Most of us own a copy of this novel, but haven’t found the time or desire to read such a large book. Many of us have reading commitments for book clubs and needing time to read for pleasure moves a book like Anna Karenina to the Someday List.
My someday has arrived: it’s time to read Anna Karenina! It’s only fitting that I include some friends to read along with me, so I have asked my book club if anyone is interested in reading this as our thirteenth selection. Taking this one more step, last week I sent an email to many of my friends asking if they might be interested in joining along, as well. I am happy to tell you that so many want to read along that we are going to discuss the book as it was written, in eight parts over the next several months.
After making the commitment to read the book, one must decide which version to read, and to be honest I don’t know if this varies a great deal, but I will be reading the Penguin Classics version (translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky). The Omaha Public Library has over twenty copies of Anna Karenina and several audio versions available, as well. One person reading along with us owns an e-reader and purchased a copy for less than a dollar. As you can see, the options are endless!
Would you like to read along with us? If you are interested, I will be blogging about it over the next several months, click here for details and please comment below! A book as weighty as Anna Karenina needs as much group enthusiam as it can get. We will discuss Part 1 (115 pages) late February.
As we prepare for this adventure in reading, let’s learn a little about Leo Tolstoy (from Penguin’s website):
Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on his aristocratic family’s estate south of Moscow. A young life of what he called "vulgar licentiousness" included studying for a degree he did not complete, traveling in Europe, and serving in the military. While fighting in the Crimean War in the 1850s, he wrote short stories that established his literary reputation. Tolstoy inherited his family’s estate, Yasnaya Polyana, along with 700 serfs, and settled there. In addition to his writing, Tolstoy immersed himself in the work of social reform, establishing a school for his serfs and trying to bring about the emancipation of all serfs.
Tolstoy married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862, beginning a long period of contentment; they had thirteen children. While managing his estate and educational projects, Tolstoy wrote his two greatest novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). In the late 1870s, he suffered a deep spiritual crisis and renounced his former beliefs and literary works. He embraced a rational Christianity that stressed humility, universal brotherhood, and the abandonment of private property. He tried to commit himself to chastity and vegetarianism.
Synopsis: Anna Karenina has beauty, social position, wealth, a husband, and an adored son, but her existence seems empty. When she meets the dashing officer Count Vronsky she rejects her marriage and turns to him to fulfill her passionate nature – with devastating results.
I hope you are interested in reading along with us. Several have read Anna before and will be reading it for a second or third time. I can’t wait to hear from the people who are reading this for a second/third time, I wonder if their view might change. I imagine reading Anna to fulfill a college requirement might be a different experience compared to reading it for pleasure.
This week I’m busy reading a few books: 1) an upcoming book club selection for the Manic Mommies Book Club and 2) Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I am enjoying (I need to finish this before the Slate’s Double X book club discussion posts later this month) and 3) Sunflowers by Sheramy Brundrick which I reserved at the Omaha Public Library, a historical fiction novel about Vincent Van Gogh.
What are you reading this week? Is there anything you just can’t wait to read?