Tag Archive | Crime and Punishment


This week I’m reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for the third time. Read it the first time in French and Russian Lit in college. Never had I ever read any of those authors before, and I was blown away. We also had to read parts of Les Miserables, which I loved also, but have never, ever managed to finish. The first two times reading C&P I read the translation by Constance Garnett. This time I’m reading the one by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. It’s a crackling, fresh translation, but then, any translation would be or would appear to be, because the story has a snap about it, drenched in a pathos that is somehow never wallowed in. This is the Dostoevsky writing I like, in C&P and The Idiot. Although I made it through them, I couldn’t stand Notes from Underground or The Brothers Karamazov.

Raskolnikov is relatable in the sense that from time to time we all struggle with this necessity and nuisance of having to have work and earn our daily bread. Most people, though, don’t resort to plotting murder and think of ourselves as secret kings or Napoleons above the law in order to get out of it. Incidentally, I’d forgotten Raskol’s first name was Rodion. Ugh. I’m glad he’s referred to by his last name most of the time and that it sounds like rascal. Despite being a murderer, I’ve always kind of liked him as a character. Now that I’m older, though, we’ll see if my opinion is the same.

This is a book in which character after character is given the opportunity to do the right thing, and they continually choose the opposite, at least at the beginning of the story. They do at least begin to do the right thing, but spiral downward, a very human trait. I don’t even remember whether Raskol turns himself in or not at the end, but am excited to find out. It’s also making me want to read both The Idiot and Little Dorritt again, which is by Dickens, but also about people in debt. If you’re looking for good, long stories to read this winter, check out the classics. So many are so, so good.

Winter Reading

winter sceneMy favorite thing about winter is burrowing down into comfy blankets and reading the dark and cold away. Cozy detective stories are best, but I’ll take a heart-pounding romance too.  Cold and snow can be easy to hate, but I like the weather for one reason:  clarity of thought.

Being cold (not too cold, mind) makes my mind awake in ways that it never can be in other climates.  Okay, maybe it’s actually that I drink more coffee than usual, but whatever the reason, winter is my best thinking time, even during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  It’s also the time I do my biggest load of reading, and often books that I wouldn’t think of touching during summer.  Here are some of my long list of winter reading for this year (I never get through them all):

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones — Been wanting to read this for awhile after seeing the imaginative Miyazaki movie a long time ago.

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol — Had to read this one in college and at the time I mostly skimmed it and would like to go back for a deeper read.  The topic seems fitting in this day and age when so many accusations fly around about citizens using dead people’s votes to make their own votes count twice.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe — The book that inspired Jane Austen to write Northanger Abbey.  Enough said.

Gaudy Night by Dorthy L. Sayers — Mystery set at a woman’s college in Oxford in the 1930s.  Works well on its own or together with the “bookend” Lord Peter Death (yes, DEATH) Wimsey mysteries Strong Poison and Busman’s Honeymoon.

The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord (Second Edition) — This is probably the most intimidating, as it often can be to really dig into one’s church and faith.  Also, studying matters of faith always challenges my world view, even if it’s only investigating the world view I already hold.  There’s something terrifyingly exciting about salvation.  It’s the ultimate story, the first story of the world, in my book.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg — This is an awesome winter read.  Smilla’s kind of hard to like at times, but it’s an enthralling mystery nonetheless.

Timber: Fire in the Pines by A.L. Sanderson — Ok, I have to put at least one romance on the list, and one about Lumberjacks set in Minnesnowta fits the bill.  Can’t say much about the story, as I haven’t read it yet, but the romantic hero’s name is Thor, yes, Thor, and Sarah, the female lead, ends up working at his lumberjack camp disguised as a boy.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dosteovsky — This is one of my all-time favorite reads.  Murderer Raskolnikov thinks of himself as a genius above the law, but the guilt of what he’s done claws at him the entire story.  Will he turn himself in or not?

What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen — This one I picked up on one of my long airport layovers a few years ago.  Haven’t seen it for sale since, but it’s a fun read even if it doesn’t really focus enough on the Alice solving the mystery.  Henry James, Jack the Ripper, Oscar Wilde — what’s not to like?

Scotland: the Autobiography by Rosemary Goring — All I have to say is this:  If you’ve never visited Scotland, especially Edinburgh and the Highlands, go the first chance you get.  The country is so atmospheric and chock full of story, it’s almost burdensome.

Tam Lin by Paula Dean — This book isn’t an easy read.  Based loosely on the Scottish ballad of the same name, the story follows college student Janet on her journey to battle the Queen of Faery to rescue her true love.  What the story really chronicles, though, is student life attending a small, Midwestern liberal arts college in the 1970s.  Though I attended college in the late 1990s-2000, many of the descriptions and moments the author describes still rang true for me.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle — Are there any better stories more suited to the fog, snow, and cold of winter?  Holmes is quirkier in the stories than he has ever been portrayed on film, and womanizer Watson cracks me up every time.