Monday, November 22, 2010

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

I had been very nervous about getting into this book because I have often found the Russian authors so complicated in their writing. I enjoyed this novel very much! Turgenev's development of Bazarov as a character was amazing. The novel was interesting to me because it deals historically with a transition time in Russia from a more authoritarian society to one where people question the past and what is really truth. Sets up the situation of why people of Russia would later embrace communism.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet

I really enjoyed reading this book set in Kuwait between the Gulf Wars. It is a interesting look at the contradictions that occur between faith, politics, and culture in the Middle East. This novel is especially interesting because of the many different cultures from all over the world that come together in Kuwait...especially for impoverished people who come there to work as domestic help and are treated less than humanely.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

While the topic was fascinating, this book was not as well written as many which have portrayed life as a woman (and this case, girl) in a conservative Muslim culture. Nujood was given to a man in his 30's to be his wife. The laws of Yemen and the Islam faith allow for such a marriage, but do not allow the marriage to be consummated until after the bride has passed puberty by a year. The courage and wisdom of this 10 year old girl to go to the authorities and ask for a divorce is inspirational...and has helped many other girls in the same situation to seek the same help. A very quick read.

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes

Probably the longest book I have ever read. I expected the story to be much more similar to the familiar "Man of La Mancha." The novel is clearly a historical masterpiece. Considered by many to be the first real novel in any language, Cervantes also standardized and unified the Spanish language. Even within the novel, Cervantes' characters continuously run into problems caused by people not being able to understand the various dialects found in 14th century Spain.

What an endearing character Don Quixote is. Even more so, I came to love, so much, his squire Sancho Panza. "Man of La Mancha" changes his character (and makes Dulcinea an actual character actively involved in the story--not true in Don Quixote). He is a simpleton, but so extremely wise and praiseworthy. For me, he is the real hero of the novel as he philosophizes about people, government, and what is really important and of value. Truly one of the most memorable characters of all-time in literature.

The novel just seems to go on and on with not a lot of progression of characters and storyline. I think that a person wanting to read Don Quixote should simply find a good abridged version of the novel. I am certain I would have enjoyed the book much better that way.