Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Classic Literature: Epic Fail

I have a tendency to read crap.  Not quite such lowly fare as Harlequin romance novels, but your typical, run of the mill mystery, by the author who cranks out a new book every over month.

However, once in awhile, I get the urge to read something good.  Respected.  Classic.  And maybe, just maybe, it has appeared on Oprah's book club reading lists.  You see, I long to be well-read.  I'm an avid reader, just an avid reader of sub-par literature.

I used to be morally opposed to Oprah's book club.  I just didn't understand why just because the goddess of television recommended a book, said book had to immediately become a best seller.  Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe Oprah has crappy taste in literature?

But then last year I joined a book club.  Two of the books we read, Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, and East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, just happened to be former Oprah picks.  And let me just say-
I loved. these. books.

As a matter of fact, I so enjoyed these books, as well as others that my extremely well-read former roomie suggested to me, that I thought I would try and make my way through Oprah's book lists.

Enter Anna Karenina.

Why I thought Tolstoy would be a good place to start is beyond me.

I went to my friendly neighborhood library and checked out the only copy of Anna.  (I can see why there was only one copy...I don't imagine it's a hot commodity.)  I began reading, and realized immediately that a 130 year old book that has been translated from Russian is not an easy read.

The book was due back at the library before I knew it.  I, of course, wasn't done.  (Not only was it a tough read, it was also about a million pages long.)  So I renewed.  And kept reading.  New due date was upon me before I knew it...renewed again.  And again.  And so on, and so on, et cetera...

That was approximately six months ago.  And today is a monumentous day.  I have finally finished the book.

As I was reading, there were a few points where I felt as though the story was getting interesting.  Those moments were short lived.  But I held out hope that once I got to the ending, everything would come together for me, and the story would somehow make sense in a wonderfully wonderful way.

Turns out- not so much.

The main character turned out to be completely unlikable.  Early on in the story, I felt for Anna, since she was trapped in a loveless marriage and was then scorned publicly after leaving her husband for her true love.  But it turns out, nothing could make her happy, and I will admit that after her constant annoying tantrums, I smiled a little smile when she finally threw herself under a train.

The secondary characters didn't really have any point to the story at all.  So glad I wasted a thousand pages worth of my time reading about them.

Final thoughts: I CAN'T WAIT to get to the beach in two weeks.  I plan on reading at least five books of pure crap.

Oh, yeah...and screw you, Oprah.


  1. I wish I could agree with you and say, "Shut it, Oprah!" Fear of immediate retribution is the only thing that stops me. It's like screaming at God and then expecting a thunderclap. Unfortunately, out of all the books I have read, quite a few have had her stamp of approval, and I have to say I almost always agree with her. I have come to the conclusion that the fact that Oprah likes it doesn't make it good literature, it's just that Oprah's publicist knows what good literature is, and puts it on her "to promote" list.

  2. Good call on the publicist, Amanda. And so far, no horrific atrocities have befallen me after blaspheming the almighty Oprah. I am looking very carefully before crossing the street, though.

  3. I love that Janet Evanovich series. hahahahaha :)



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