As light snow swirls in a heavy wind, I try to imagine the vastness of Siberia, a place fraught with meaning and legend. Yesterday I finished Nicholas and Alexandra, Robert Massie's biography/history of the last decades of Russian Imperialism and now I'm embarking on one of my occasional theme reading binges. I bought Nabokov's Lectures on Russian Literature, lectures he gave when he was a professor at Wellesley College and Cornell University in the 1940's. I haven't decided which of the books in the lectures I will read, or re-read, but I look forward to imagining myself in the classroom with Nabokov.
I next plan to read Gulag, Anne Applebaum's history of the Soviet labor camps, a book that I've wanted to read but been terrified of. Historically it picks up where Nicholas and Alexandra left off, so I've decided to tackle it. Needing a quick break from the heaviness, I am now reading The Dogs of Rome, an Italian crime novel. (That a murder mystery is light reading gives you an idea of how I feel about approaching Gulag.)
Let's talk flowers for a minute. I really cannot pick a favorite, but if you made me do so today it would be the sweet pea. So delicate, so lyrical. Are they hard to grow?
As for non-Russian books, I've finished and recommend Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue, which you will love if you are a fan of Chabon or Jonathan Lethem*. If you haven't read Chabon before, I recommend starting with The Yiddish Policemen's Union or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I also recommend Dennis Lehane's Live by Night, my favorite of all his books, and one of the best non-genre, a/k/a literary, crime novels I've read.
*I've never laughed out loud as much as when I read Motherless Brooklyn.
This blog's been drifting a bit since I closed the store, and since I read so much and you seem to like when I write about books, I'm going to do so on a regular(ish)basis. Okay?