Anna Karenina was really, really good. But as good as it was, it wasn’t an easy read. It took me the better part of 8 weeks to finish it, and I know many of you are still reading or have decided to move on to next month’s book club selection. If I wasn’t the one in charge of this book club, I probably would have done the same.
So, today’s book chat isn’t going to be about the story–though we can talk about some of the finer points if you like. (Anna = poetic justice.) What I really want to do is solve a mystery, and like the mystery of holey t-shirts, I’ll bet I’m not the only one to experience this phenomenon.
Why do I put aside reading books that bring me so much pleasure and instead compulsively devour books I don’t even like?
I really don’t get it. When I sat down to read Anna Karenina–and trust me, I approached it like I was doing homework–I quickly got lost in the characters and the writing. Every other paragraph had me thinking, applying.
Darya Alexandrovna had done her hair, and dressed with care and excitement. In the old days she had dressed for her own sake to look pretty and be admired. Later on, as she got older, dress became more and more distasteful to her. She saw that she was losing her good looks. But now she began to feel pleasure and interest in dress again. Now she did not dress for her own sake, not for the sake of her own beauty, but simply that as the mother of those exquisite creatures she might not spoil the general effect. And looking at herself for the last time in the looking-glass she was satisfied with herself. She looked nice. Not nice as she would have wised to look nice in old days at a ball, but nice for the object which she now had in view.
I couldn’t read for very long; I had to take breaks and mix it up with books that took little brain power. I’m not exaggerating when I say I have read 12 books since I started Anna Karenina. Each and every one was really bad, some of them teetering on horrible. But, boy, did I have no problem staying up hours past my bedtime to figure out if Clary was going to save the world! (The jury is still out, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say she does… in book six, which comes out in 2014. Preorder now!)
Cela n’est pas plus fin que ça, when you get a peep at their cards. I may be inferior to them, stupider perhaps, though I don’t see why I should be inferior to them. But you and I have one important advantage over them for certain, in being more difficult to buy. And such men are more needed than ever.
Does this relate to the studies suggesting the internet makes us stupid, impatient, unable to focus for more than 140 characters? I don’t know.
All I do know is that I finished Anna Karenina and after this post I am going to buy and read something really, really fluffy.
[images: Greta Garbo as Anna Karenina]