One of the things that makes me most happy is when my students read a book I suggested. Upon returning from break a student told me he had finished The Hunger Games (okay, not necessarily the most spiritual books for a campus pastor to suggest). This same student was reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the story of Raskolnikov, a student who commits a horrible crime and faces the psychological punishment that comes with it.
This same student had purchased a Kindle Fire. There is much discussion about the growing prevalence of e-books and how this is affecting book sellers and reading habits and so on. In my own non-scientific study, one tremendous benefit of e-books is the introduction of the classics to people who may have never read them. I have enjoyed downloading free books by the likes of Dostoyevsky, Dickens and Austen. My sister and two of my students have also used their Kindles to get into old books.
One of those students plans to join me in reading Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace in 2012. She may not start it for a while as she is now swamped with assigned reading.
I plan to start it soon. For me, 2011 was a Dostoyevsky year and 2012 may be a Tolstoy year. First I read Crime and Punishment. Second was Notes from the Underground, a weird book in which the first half is a rant on the pointlessness of life and the second half is a tale of this underground man’s foray into society. Third was a re-read of The Brothers Karamazov which, upon my second go-through, became my favorite book of all time (sorry John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany).
I plan to read more Dostoyevsky in the future. But I want to move on to the other great Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy. So far the only Tolstoy I have read is his treatise on nonviolence, The Kingdom of God is Within You. War and Peace is on my Kindle and ready to start…though I am intimidated as it is about the longest book ever.
I have read about how these two novelists present different views of God and humanity. Dostoyevsky’s books are certainly dark with violent crimes and people suffering from their own psychological punishments. At any rate, I noticed this article today, “God who Writes Like Dostoyevsky“. It has me really chomping at the bit to get into Tolstoy and then maybe back into some Dostoyevsky again.