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message 1: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Anyone want to read some books from authors around the world?

I am starting in Russia and reading War and Peace. Sit back, read and travel around the world with me.

message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 53 comments I'm joining. I try to read War and peace for very long time and I can't finish it.

message 3: by Meg (last edited Jan 25, 2009 10:46AM) (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments It will be fun to see how many countries we can cover in a year.

Can you recommend one from Poland? Or a few and give us some choices?

message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 53 comments I think the classics will be easier to get. So maybe By fire an sword?

message 5: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Sure, we certainly do not have to read the same books, just keep track of the countries we are reading/have read. Hos does that sound? Also we can recommend a list from the country we are doing. I am open to suggestions.

message 6: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Let's agree to start with Russia. There are a lot of wonderful authors from Russia, or about Russia, if you want suggestions. Also if you want to generate a list, that might be great too. It might encourage others to join.

message 7: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments If you do not want to read War and Peace here are a few more suggestions, if anyone else has to add please do!

Gulag Archipelago - Solzhenitsyn (he just died so it might be a nice tribute)
Nicholas and Alexandra - Massie
Dostoevsky - Crime and Punishment, Brothers Karamazov, or The Idiot
Bernard Malamud (immigrated to America but his stories are about Russia other than the Natural) The Fixer, the Tenants, or The Assistant

message 8: by Ed (new)

Ed | 237 comments Mod
I'd like to tackle the Brothers Karamzov sometime.

message 9: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments How about now and join us in our trip?

message 10: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments OK for those of us who are going to Russia, let's have book titles in by Monday, ok?

message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim | 41 comments I'm in -I never read WAR AND PEACE so that gets my vote
good idea and will be fun

message 12: by Ed (new)

Ed | 237 comments Mod
sounds great!

message 13: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Awesome! If you belong to BOMC2 you can get War and Peace (new translation) for $10. I don't know what Amazon is charging. Also if you belong to bookmooch or paperbackswap you might be able to get it that way. And then, of course, there is the favorite bookstore.

Once every tells me which books from Russia that they are going to read we will set up the next steps.

So glad you all are joining!

message 14: by Melissa Rochelle (new)

Melissa Rochelle (melissarochelle) I've never read War & Peace either...maybe with a little encouragement I could actually get through it! The best part is that I already have a copy!

message 15: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Get your passports ready, we are on our way to Russia

message 16: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments My tricks for reading Russian classics:

1. A lot of the novels have many characters. I make a list with some information for each. This way when they pop up chapters later you will know who they are. If you are reading War and Peace, and have the new translation, they have 2 pages of characters listed.

2. I read with sticky notes. When something happens that I think is interesting or important I will write something on a sticky note and leave it on that page.

3. Don't get frustrated if you don't understand something, or lose some detail as you are reading. There is usually a lot of detail in the writing, as long as you get the gist you are golden.

4. Don't feel you have to read hours and hours a day. If you are reading a really large book, make small goals like 20 pages a day if that is doable. If not, go to 15 pages.

5. Remember, this is enjoyable and a great goal.

6. It is a good idea to know what period of history you are reading about. It adds to the story and understanding.

If anyone else has suggestions please feel free to add.

message 17: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Once you have picked a book, please post it and let us know what time period your book is taking place in.
Happy reading!

message 18: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments War and Peace

The part that I am reading is around 1806. Historically this is what I found:

\Arnold, J.R. & R.R. Reinertsen

The autumn of 1806 witnessed one of history's foremost military geniuses, Napoleon Bonaparte, at the apogee of his power. After easily defeating the vaunted Prussian army, the Emperor Napoleon occupied Berlin. The scale of his victories stunned Europe. He and his veteran warriors appeared invincible. Undaunted, the young Tsar Alexander sent his armies westward to confront the French. The ensuing collisions took place in Poland, one of Europe's poorest, most barren regions. Terrain, weather, and luck played critical roles. Then came a seemingly implausible reversal of fortune when an inexperienced Russian army, riven by command dissension, inflicted a pair of severe checks at Pultusk and Golymin. Napoleon's opponents rejoiced to see the 'Corsican Ogre' falter as he retired to winter quarters to lick his wounds. The Russian armies were not done. Flush with his success at Pultusk, Russian General Leontii Bennigsen assumed overall command of the tsar's forces and launched a surprise offensive. It compelled Napoleon to abandon winter quarters and begin a grueling campaign. Napoleon's brilliantly conceived strategic envelopment miscarried. A five-day all-out pursuit finally brought the Russians to bay on the snow covered ground of Eylau. Here over 140,000 French and Russian soldiers fought a terrible battle. They displayed surpassing courage and moments of inspired leadership, and committed costly blunders as victory trembled in the balance. The battle inflicted nearly 60,000 casualties, leaving thousands of dead and wounded littering the exposed slopes as frozen darkness descended. Then and thereafter, both sides claimed victory, but what was absolutely clear was that for the first time in his career Napoleon had met a foe capable of resisting his sweeping strategic thrusts and tactical flourishes. Using primary sources gleaned from libraries and archives in Europe and the United States, Crisis in the Snows removes the shroud of Napoleon's propaganda to portray the demoralizing reality of the winter campaign in Poland. Napoleon's Grande Armée is revealed not as a smoothly oiled machine but rather a war-weary force whose soldiers doubted that France's security required a march into Poland. Yet, when summoned to battle by a man who possessed a unique capacity to inspire French self-sacrifice, Napoleon's soldiers repeatedly displayed prodigies of valor. Previous accounts have relied upon German historians whose goal was to rewrite the history of Prussia's inglorious 1806 collapse, Bennigsen's self-admiring memoirs, or British propagandists. Russia's warriors have passed into history as walking muskets; stupid, inflexible, but brave and led by inept officers. Crisis in the Snows gives voice to the Russian experience during a pivotal campaign and portrays a very different reality. Well illustrated with portraits, drawings, paintings and maps, and supplemented with detailed appendices on the strengths and composition of the rival forces, Crisis in the Snows provides a novel interpretation of the 1806-1807 campaign that foreshadows the well-known disaster of 1812. Comfortably the best study of this overlooked yet fascinating campaign available.

message 19: by Meg (last edited Feb 08, 2009 08:54AM) (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments When I read a historical book I like to think about what else is going on in the world. Tolstoy wrote War and Peace around 1863 - 1868, which is when we were in the middle of the Civil War.

message 20: by George (new)

George | 8 comments No doubt he considered that a side show.

message 21: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments i have this challenge going in another group as well. So far, in the other group, we are in Kabul, Italy, Siberia, Japan and Russia.

I feel like I am talking to myself in here. Is anyone out there?

message 22: by Melissa Rochelle (new)

Melissa Rochelle (melissarochelle) Meg...I actually started following the Chicks on Lit War & Peace group...I'm still reading what you say here though! Thanks for all the info though! I have to admit...I never really thought to research the historical context. I guess I usually read books where I already know what's happening outside of the book...like John Jakes books. But with W&P, I know zilch! Thanks!!

message 23: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Great, I hope this helps.

message 24: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments I am back from Afghanistan! I am doing this post in more than one group, so if you have read this already, I am sorry.

Has anyone else returned from their visit?

The Bookseller of Kabul - Asne Seierstad
This book is a cultural experience about life in an Afghan household and life in Afghanistan in general. You will get great insight into the culture and the effect of war/communism on the country. It takes place in the 1980-1990's. There are many memorable quotes. For example "When the Berlin wall fell, Jihad will take cred for ending communism" and "Terrorists are false Muslims". In addition to the politics the way women are treated and their lot in life is just not to be believed. The way crime is handled and the poverty of the people makes this book a remarkable one.

message 25: by Jim (last edited Feb 18, 2009 10:41AM) (new)

Jim | 41 comments Hello from page 400 or so of WAR AND PEACE

I am listening to the book on CD
there are48 discs and I am on Disc 15 and it's great listening
Tolstoy is definitely the widescreen cinematographer
type of writer -

he gives such a panoramic view of Russia at that time and at the same time describes how real human beings act/are in surprisingly enough in war and peace time

I love all the characters
But I'm glad I wasn't there as I likely would have been one of the poor serfs plus outside of my Daughter, I don't think I'd be to into calling someone Princess all the time

great idea and the info on Russia in 1806 is great

I did read that Napoleon had 500,000 troops when he went to Russia and only 100,000 made it back (I also don't think I would have wanted to be a French soldier then either)

message 26: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments I am so glad you are listening to the book. I was wondering how that would be on audio. I can't imagine having 48 discs!

I love the character descriptions. The poor little princess with her little moustache. How sad! And Pierre, oh my. Did you get to the part when he became a mason and what that means? I had never heard of that societ and their influence in Russia.

And, I definitely would have wanted to be a Princess, with a huge fortune so I could marry who every I wanted.

message 27: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Well I am now commuting between Havana and Russia. I am still reading War and Peace and really enjoying it. Yesterday I started Waiting for Snow in Havana which is a memoir of a boy that was one of the 40,000 children airlifted out of Cuba when Castro took over. Very interesting!

message 28: by Melissa Rochelle (new)

Melissa Rochelle (melissarochelle) Oh wow...how can you read W&P and another book? W&P really takes up all of my reading time!

message 29: by Jim (new)

Jim | 41 comments I didn't get to the part about Pierre being a mason yet.

on disc 23 and W&P keeps getting better
I will be getting discs 25-48 this week

I wonder how long it took Tolstoy to write it especially since he and the Mrs had 13 kids
must have had an office for writing

for my local book club, reading THE TRIAL by Kafka

not quite as long and is a good break from W&P

message 30: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments I read that it took Tolstoy 5 years to write the book but he never felt that it was finished, nor did he think it was a novel.

I find the development of Pierre's character really interesting and can't wait to discuss him.

As far as reading War and Peace and other books at the same time. I am weird that way, I usually have at least 3 books going at the same time.

Right now I am in Cuba, with Waiting for Snow in Havana which I am enjoy very much. Also, just started the Alchemist which is in Egypt. I feel like a world traveler!

Melissa how far are you into War and Peace?

message 31: by Melissa Rochelle (new)

Melissa Rochelle (melissarochelle) I just read that Pierre is now Count B...and the downy-lipped Princess is in the country with Anatol's possible wife. (I don't remember everyone's name or how to spell them!) Do you happen to know what everyone is called Prince and Princess? I'm going to have to look that up...I'm guessing it's just the Russian form of Mr. and Mrs.

Occasionally, I can read multiple books...but only if one is a re-read and the other is brand new, but an easy read. I think W&P will have to stand alone in my attentions...at least for a little while longer!

The Alchemist...which one is that...is it the Paulo Coehlo?

message 32: by George (new)

George | 8 comments Meg,

Haven't read the Bookseller of Kabul yet, but I have read The Kiterunner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, both of which I liked quite a bit, although I prefer The Kiterunner. It's not as polished as the later work but I think the author felt that book more. I've never actually been to Afghanistan, but I was in Pakistan a while back with an NGO working with Afghan refugees for possible resettlement in the US. So the subject resonates with me and brings back a lot of memories. As for Egypt, I highly recommend the Yacoubian Building, the best thing I've read on modern day Egypt ever. It was a best seller in Eqypt a while back and a pretty good movie as well,if you haven't seen it.

message 33: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments George, thank you for the recommendation. I really enjoyed the Bookseller of Kabul and would recommend it if you can get it. It does give cultural information which I love learning about.

Yes Melissa The Alchemist is by Paul Coehlo. I am not sure about the derivatives of Prince and Princess or the Count. I can surely understand justreading one book, especially War and Peace which does demand a lot of your attention. I really find War and Peace outstanding for so many reasons.

I love the little princess with her moustache. He so lovingly describes her.

message 34: by George (new)

George | 8 comments Thanks, Meg, I'll have to give it a shot. Someday, you'll have to try the Carribean and give Edwige Dandicat, in Haiti, a shot.

message 35: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Oh I have read a few books of hers and I love her, but it was quite a while ago.

message 36: by George (new)

George | 8 comments should have known.

message 37: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments You are so funny!

Any other suggestions? We have so many similar tastes in movies and books.

message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim | 41 comments Meg

I did get to parts about Pierre being a Freemason.

I thought when You asked that that maybe Pierre had a reversal of fortune and was like a stonemason and that happened later in the book.

waiting on second set of discs 25-48 for W&P at library

so started listening to Villages by Updike

also now reading a book called Apocalpse etc where the author discusses how earthquakes have affected history - mixes archaeology and geology but only read intro so not sure where it's going

I don't think it's hard to read/listen to more than 1 book at a time if the books aren't too detailed/specialized/scientific/dense

I love part where Tolstoy around 600 plus talks about causality and what causes events - if interested/want to discuss it, I'll put it on section and see what You guys think

message 39: by Angie (new)

Angie  (angelitabonita) Hi all....I am new to the group. Thanks Meg for showing me this group by the way. I have decided to take the challenge and start reading a book from my own heritage called Waiting For Snow In Havana I've only gotten to the 2nd chapter but I think I'm going to like it.

It's a story about a boy growing up in Cuba right when Castro takes over. And i have read these kind of stories before but never one from a perspective of one of the more well off families.

message 40: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Welcome Angie!

message 41: by Jim (new)

Jim | 41 comments so is there a target date to get into discussion of W&P?

message 42: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments Well we can handle it two ways, one we can start posting as we go along, or limit it to the first two volumes to start discussion, or give a target date when to me done. which do you think would be more advantageous?

message 43: by Jim (last edited Feb 28, 2009 09:20AM) (new)

Jim | 41 comments the main determinant to me is not to get too far ahead of any one and discuss something they haven't read although I guess there probably isn't a surprise ending that could be revealed and spoil the reading experience for someone.

also there are so many things that can be discussed as the book is read that posting along the way would be the best since there's so much to talk about

so if everyone reading W&P would post or let You know where they are in the book, then discuss the book up to that point

I'm around page 1000 and what happens with the defense of Moscow

message 44: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments I am on page 660. I am sure ready to start discussing up to that point and I am still reading!

message 45: by Jim (new)

Jim | 41 comments what do You think of Tolstoy's characterization of women so far?

message 46: by Meg (last edited Feb 28, 2009 06:18PM) (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments You know I have been thinking about your question all night. I think the only strong woman in the book were: Anna Pavlovna the woman that was arranging the parties and had such deep feelings about some of the characters, mainly Pierre.

Other than that I think the woman are portrayed as very week and needy without much depth. I am amazed at their view of marriage and how that is more a way of money and place in society.

I was rooting for Natasha until she had her melt down and changed men and ended up a total mess. The princess with the little moustache was not developed enough to decide whether or not she had depth. She seemed humiliated by her husband and lacked self esteem. I am not that into Sonya's story so I don't know about her yet. Natasha's mother is useless.

However, when I read reviews, it seems that Tolstoy used his wife as models for his book. What is that saying about Tolstoy?

What do you think?

message 47: by Jim (new)

Jim | 41 comments Well I was wondering more about why the women would have been attractive to the men and how young Natasha, Sonya, Helene and Princess Maria were when the guys were hitting on them to get married.

Princess Maria seemed like she had control of what happened to her as she turned down suitors.

Also were the women getting what they wanted?
It didn't seem like they objected very much to what was going on.

Natasha was only 15-16 and her parents were around and agreed to what was going on and it seemed exactly like Meg said -- a business deal with the doweries etc.

(I read recently that arranged marriages divorce rate in India was only about 5-7% while non arranged was 40-50% - go figure
also this includes some Indian professional women in the US going that route
I wouldn't think it is as business like as in W&P times.)

I also wonder how much some aspects have changed as far as marriage since then

- in some states I don't think individuals have to be more than 17 to get married and with parental consent maybe earlier (my 13 yr old will not be getting my consent until she's at least 30)

I read somewhere that Tolstoy's wife was really smart and somewhat of a writer too
anyone who can have 13 kids and be a writer had to have some real energy and organizational skills. she'd get my vote as mother of the year(s)

also I read that Tolstoy in his later years apparently alienated all his family except one daughter

I guess if he kept telling his kids I'll take you for ice cream/the park after I finish wrting this book, the kids got tired of waiting and weren't too happy with Tolstoy as a dad.

I have about 15-20 post-its throughout the book so far highlighting parts I found interesting and will post some tomorrow.

I do love Helene's view of religion when she's wheeling and dealing men. If You got to that tell me what you think - it's very cool and funny to me.

finally I will never again think that a book that is 400 pages is a long book -
any idea what novel is the longest?

message 48: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments I will answer your post, but in the meantime,

I just googled your question:
Number One: In Search of Lost Time

In Search of Lost Time: Proust 6-pack (Proust Complete) by Marcel Proust

This novel, while generally published in several volumes is considered a single novel and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest novel.

I’m not sure of the exact number of words in the book, but according to Guinness it has a total of 9,609,000 characters (including spaces) which I estimate to be around 3,000,000 words or so (this estimate is due to Clarissa, which is over 1,000,000 words and about one-third the number of pages of In Search of Lost Time, but I'm bad at math so I'm probably off). This novel is approx. 4,800 pages in length.


message 49: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments I think the a woman's role in society in the early 1800's in Russia was to get married. If they were not wealthy, women were a commodity to bring money into the family (ie Natasha). If the woman was rich, she was very appealing to the men in need of money even if he were titled. I think that most of the women were satisfied with their role and actually enjoyed it. Also, I don't think that they questioned their role.

With the princess, the only other acceptable to role was to stay home and take care of the family which is what she chose to do. Of course if you are taking care of an aging parent(s) and they die you wonder what happens to their status then. Don't tell me! I haven't gotten past that.

There were some women in the world that were breaking from society and actually looking to have a profession. For example, some women wanted to write and would write under a male pseudonym in order to be successful, but evidence of that happended later in the century.

Did they get what they wanted? They wanted to be part of society, rich, attending balls, socializing they all aspired to belong. This was their way of belonging. What struck me was that people didn't seem to leave their house much either. when someone came to visit it was a grandiose thing.

message 50: by Jim (new)

Jim | 41 comments I think that later in the book the women to a certain extent are more aggeressive in doing things their way and Helene is very cool in how she does what she wants.

so why do You think the women play such a prominent part in the book and their thoughts/feelings are so fully explored in the book?

PS - I finished W&P yesterday so let me know where You are and I'll send some quotes/situations that interested me and would like to see what Your opinion is

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