Tagged: Readalong

The Brothers Karamazov: Problematics’ Fav

When you find out Stalin had good taste in books and made hilarious annotations

Blurbs on classic novels are kind of, well, superfluous. While the contemporary blurb is rightly suspect, we understand why it’s there. But on a classic, what are we trying to do? Convince readers to give a struggling author like Dostoyevsky a try? A blurb from Sigmund Freud of all people on my Penguin Classics copy of The Brothers Karamazov confused me, but it also made me wonder if Dostoyevsky has any other famous stans, and hoo boy does he. But you can see why some of them didn’t get asked for a blurb. In order of problematic-ness:

  • Jonathan Franzen (not problematic despite his reputation). This actually makes a ton of sense if you’ve read Crossroads, which, like the Brothers K, is all about religion and lust and sensuality and guilt. Like Dostoyevsky, Franzen is planning at least one sequel; let’s hope that unlike Dostoyevsky, he’ll live to write them.
  • Nicolas Cage (beloved with a few problematic tendencies). An inspiration for this read-along, in fact. It’s too bad that Nic is too old to play Mitya now!
  • Hillary Clinton (??) This was just so random to me, and kept coming up in my search queries.
  • Jordan Peterson (problematic and annoying). Content warning: Jordan Peterson, talking about The Brothers Karamazov, does eventually get to an interesting point about beliefs versus action.
  • Stalin (problematic and evil). Apparently a lifelong book lover and prodigious annotator, but yeah, problematic doesn’t really cover it…

I couldn’t find the source, but I remember reading that Putin’s a fan too, so there’s that.

I’m not too concerned though. The Brothers Karamazov has been widely read since it was published 140 years ago, so it’s not that a lot of problematic people like it, it’s that a lot of people, period, like it, some of whom happen to be cringe, annoying and/or evil.

That said, I will need to come to terms with the fact that two of my personal all time favs appear on Peterson’s list of great books (Wuthering Heights and The Stone Angel).

The Brothers Karamazov: Choose your fighter

I’ve started reading ahead for my August read-along (I encourage you to do the same!) and immediately, the contrasting of the three brothers – one “sensual”, one “intellectual”, and one “spiritual” – puts me in mind of modern pop culture properties that encourage you to identify with one character above all others. From the babysitters club (I’m a Mary Ann) to Sex and the City (a Miranda), women in particular are encouraged to “pick a team” or “choose a fighter”. I’m intrigued by how this will play out with our Brothers K, especially with the narrator not-so-subtly telling us that Alyosha, the spiritual one, is the hero.

I’m more used to Dostoyevsky novels having one main character whose main characteristic is being depressed

But before you can choose a brother, you have to choose an edition to read. I touched on this in the announcement post, but now that I’m reading alternately from three editions, I can provide a little more guidance, especially the one I was sleeping on:

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The Full Monte Read-Along

I would have posted this much sooner, but I was struggling to find a good name for my momentous fifth summer read-along, in which we will tackle Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.

Count Along? Count Me In? No. Sometimes you must wait for the muse to show up.

The title is relevant too, because there are abridged versions out there. Do not be fooled. We are going FULL MONTE, people.

Image result for the full monty gifs

Large and in charge

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume III, Part III: Fan Video Appreciation Week

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

I was going to save this for the end of the read-along, but I didn’t find much to remark on in this section. Well, okay, two quick things:

  1. Helene tries to get out of her marriage to Pierre by… converting to Catholicism?? I thought Pierre was being a dick when he insulted Helene’s intelligence, but I’m sorry, that’s just dumb. Have you seen The Tudors? You need to get away from the Catholics, girl!

Henry VIII knows: say “nope” to the Pope


2. Pierre figures out a way for the letters in his name to add up to the same number in Napoleon’s name… so… he has to…. murder him… this whole plot has got me like:Moving on! Let’s talk about the world of fan videos.

I don’t even know if that’s the correct terminology, but I’m talking about videos one finds on YouTube, which are spliced together from TV shows or movies, either to celebrate the themes or relationships within that show, OR, to insert the creator’s own interpretation of what the themes and relationships SHOULD have been. Like… video fanfic? I became aware that this was a thing when I was searching for the theme song in Far From the Madding Crowd (wonderful movie, watch it!) and found stuff like this.

With a recent adaptation of War and Peace, there’s a whole world of this stuff to explore. Let’s get to it!

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part III: Hélène’s boobs destroy society

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Was I the only one surprised that this wasn’t a “Peace” section, given that Part I was all “Peace”, and part II was all “War”? The rest of the book seems to be mixed in this way. Maybe parts I and II were just Tolstoy easing us in.

Part III was a real mixed bag and I didn’t find a coherent pop culture parallel as I did in Parts I and II. However, I did notice two related themes that came up again and again:

  • the futile pursuit of things you can never really have, or at least, you can’t keep (youth, glory, status, beauty) and,
  • self-sabotage (marrying someone you know you don’t love, rushing into a battle you know you can’t win, everything Nikolai does).

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Reading in Bed Year in Review #3: Life Lessons

I tend to find these types of posts self-indulgent and preachy, but I also tend to enjoy them, so here goes.

Sometimes I feel a little inadequate when I realize that many of the bloggers I interact with have English degrees, are teachers, are published authors, or work in publishing. Who am I to blog about books, with my English 101 and bureaucratic job? But on further reflection, I’ve accomplished quite a bit this year, and might have something worthwhile to share. Maybe you are a new blogger, like I was three years ago, and don’t know where to start. Maybe you’ve been at this for a while and will nod your head (or disagree!) or maybe I’m just talking to hear the sound of my own voice. I’m okay with that.

Life Lessons for Book Bloggers

Edmonton Book Blogger-01It is possible to find an online community that isn’t all drama.  Over the years I have been part of (or lurked in) a few online communities and most are full of cliques and old grudges and drama. Entertaining for a while (sometimes for years in the case of a particular parenting forum) but eventually it becomes tiresome. Book blogging is not immune to drama, but I’ve found a wonderful group of bloggers who are truly here for the books. It’s great to have people to talk to, to drag to an author event or comment on your posts. It did take some fine tuning, but my advice is to seek out a local community, comment lots, and respond to comments. And use that unfollow button when necessary.

If you don’t like a certain type of blog event, keep looking. I used to give a strong side-eye to blogging events and memes and what not. Some of them see silly and just a convoluted way to get page views. But like most things, if you look hard enough, you’ll find something to suit! I went hard on readalongs this year. Readalongs appeal to me because they encourage discussion and getting to know other bloggers, and the updates are fun to write – gets you out of the rut of writing straight reviews. Here are the readalongs I participated in this year:
Moby Dick Read-A-Longwpid-oryx-crake-button-01.pngdragonboundreadalongbutton-01 (1)agnesgreyMoonstonemiddlemarch2

Go to events. If there are any author events in your area, do get out and experience them! The biggest change I made this year was going to readings and events. It’s another way of finding community and bringing it all to life. I went to everything from the basic Audrey’s basement event with coffee and cookies to a fancy wine & cheese to a panel discussion. Here are the events I went to this year: Continue reading

Moby Dick Read-A-Long: Sign Up!

Moby Dick Read-A-Long

Shout out to MS Paint.

Sharpen your spears…. in just two weeks, Reading in Bed will host its first ever read-a-long!

Why Moby Dick?

I was challenged by my brother in law to read Moby Dick before the end of the year. But, I don’t know, MD feels like a summer book to me (keep in mind I read Roxana on my honeymoon in Mexico, so I don’t really do “beach reading.”)

I also want to have fun with this and get to know some of my fellow book bloggers a little better. If we can inspire and encourage people to read a book they might have been intimidated by otherwise (I am super intimidated, by the way,) that would be pretty cool, too.

Isn’t Moby Dick long and boring and about a whale?Moby Dick cover

Well, yes. It’s 750 pages long, and is purported to not just be about a whale, but to have whole chapters that are literally ABOUT a whale, like, details of anatomy and whaling and what not.

But, it’s also regarded as the Great American Novel, and possibly the first postmodern novel. That’s pretty amazing, considering it was written a hundred years before anyone else wrote a postmodern novel.

I’m going in with almost no expectations. I’m not doing a ton of research or reading other bloggers, like I usually do. The edition I bought has no introduction. So let’s just jump in!

What do I have to do?

Ready to sign up? Great! Leave a comment on this post and you’re all set. Here are some things you could do after that, if you’re so inclined:

  • I’ll post every Monday with my thoughts on the chapters I’ve read and other random Moby Dick stuff. You could do that too!
  • Comment on other people’s blogs. You can refer back to this post, or my most recent post, to see who else is blogging. I don’t know about you, but getting comments is pretty much the best feeling ever, so spread the love around!
  • You can put a badge up on your blog -> see sidebar.
  • You can tweet about what you’re reading with the hashtag #MobyDick2013.
  • If you don’t have a blog, that’s okay! You can still comment and tweet. Or start a blog. Go crazy!

What’s in it for me?

At the end of it all, I’ll randomly select one of you to win a Moby Dick t-shirt (well, an gift certificate from Out of Print Clothing so that you may choose your own t-shirt.) E-Readers making it hard to show off how well-read you are? No problem. Let everyone know you’ve tackled that white whale. Just make sure you comment on this post, and participate a bit, and you’re entered to win.

I'm not above bribery.

I’m not above bribery.


You’ve got two weeks notice to finish up whatever you’re reading and find yourself a great paper or electronic edition.  Feel free to fall behind or read ahead, but I’ll try to post according to this:

I’m still not sure….

Here are some links about how to read Moby Dick that you may find encouraging:

Herman Melville

Herman wants you to sign up. Also, I saw a teenager with this exact facial hair the other day. DISTURBING.