Welcome back to the Sunday Scoop!! I didn’t check in last week. I wasn’t finished with my two heavy Russian novels yet. Take a look at what I’ve been reading for the past two weeks. You can see that I like quite a variety of things. Let’s get started!
First I want to give a comparison between The Little Russian and The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov. Yes I realize that these books are about two different topics, but they also have a lot in common. Both books give us a lot of information about the politics of Russia from World War I to World War II. I found that The Little Russian was easier to read and that I understood it better. I do wish that The Little Russian had included a Russian word dictionary in the back. The writer was very good at placing the Russian words in the context so that you could work out the meaning, but I think that a dictionary would have been more exact. The Little Russian gives us a background about the progoms and the clashes between the red and white armies in Russia and much of this is mirrored in the Nabokov book. The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov was of course a book about Nabokov and how his life and works were influenced by politics of the time. I thought that the book about Nabokov was somewhat dry and that the first chapter read like a graduate thesis paper. I considered ending my reading experience with it several times. I am a glutton for punishment, once I start reading I rarely will quit a book. This book is also non-fiction whereas The Little Russian is a work of fiction. I found the last chapters of the Nabokov book a little more interesting. It was interesting that his book Lolita was originally published in France. He could not get an American company to publish it. Lolita is his most famous work and while I have read it, I have to admit I have not read his other works. I was also surprised to read that he was a professor at Cornell University in New York and that he wrote many short stories for the New Yorker Magazine.
I then read The Swallows of Kabul. I really enjoyed this book. It is a good look at life on the streets of Kabul in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule. There are public executions. Women are forced to wear the burqa (head scarf). There is a lack of happiness and music. There is a drought and many are dying of diseases. A police agent strikes a person with a club for laughing in the street. It gives you vivid images and shows us how the characters are affected. Musarrat realizes that her husband, Atiqu does not love her as she loves him, although she feels in her heart that he may find love and happiness someday. Atiqu is the jailer and he falls in love with a young woman prisoner. Musarrat performs the ultimate sacrifice for her husband. The burqa which is meant to suppress women and take away their power now becomes a tool of empowerment. Musarrat is dying of an illness and sacrifices her life in exchange for a prisoner named Zunaira. She switches places with Zunaira and is hanged. Zunaira goes free. She commits the ultimate sacrifice, her life for her husbands happiness. I felt that this story was beautifully written. The author was actually a male Algerian army soldier writing under a woman’s name.
The last book read this week was The Holocaust Scream. This is the biography of Rachel Rosenberg. She survived 4 concentration camps. It tells of how she was liberated by the Russians. Carl also survives the camps with her. It also goes on to tell about how she was placed in a displaced persons camp in Omaha, Nebraska. She was such a strong woman to survive so much pain. This book is written in the form of an interview, but it does not take away from the story at all. There were many new facts brought to life in this book for me. I have read many books about the holocaust, but each one has something new to offer. The aerial view of Auschwitz Concentration Camp resembles an animal confinement facility. There was a German ship, the S.S. St. Louis with 930 fleeing Jewish refugees that wasn’t allowed to land anywhere. I also never realized that there were so many SS female camp guards and how horrible they were. Rachel had also met the Monster Dr. Mengele. This is a short book and a quick easy read. It is packed full of facts and information without being dull or boring. I think that Rachel survived for a reason, to tell a story that everyone should read.
I am currently enjoying the book The Forest Lover. I like everything that I have read by Susan Vreeland so far. She has a very flowing writing style and is easy to read. Stay tuned for more thoughts on this book later.
Books on the Back Burner: I usually don’t pick romances to read, but I love anything about India and I love this cover. Oh boy still haven’t read my advanced reader’s copy of I Kiss Your Hands Many Times yet. Hmmm maybe this week.
Have you ever read a book just because you liked the cover??? Leave a comment below!!! I would love to hear from you!
- Lolita (readingthereel.wordpress.com)
- Nabokov and Homeland Security: How Russia’s Most Revered Literary Émigré Became an American (brainpickings.org)