Monday, July 8, 2019

Not Your Usual Summer Reading

That's not totally accurate. I did read a couple summer-type books so far. I enjoyed this one:
 It's not great literature, but it is well-written and it kept me reading. Then I dove into this one:
Once again, I hate a book that almost everyone else liked -- or even loved! I thought the plot was dull, the main character was dull, the whole thing was dull. Worse, I felt it was quite a white-washing of daily life in the Soviet Union. Only highly placed party officials lived and ate like the main character.

And I am all about history. Next, I tried these two:
I am completely baffled by the success of The Friend. Boring! I didn't get very far. But I did like 1917, which looked at that era through the lens of Lenin and President Wilson. The author is clearly a Republican and made some opinionated remarks I disagreed with, but I'm OK with that as long as the facts are straight and the author is honest about their politics.

I recently finished Stranger From Abroad, which is about philosopher Hannah Arendt, who is one of my idols. Unlike the books she writes, it is very readable.

Secondhand Time and Between East and West are about Eastern Europe. (Note: Hannah Arendt grew up in the Eastern European city of Konigsberg, now Kaliningrad, which is part of Russia.) Why this fixation on Eastern Europe?

I'm going back! A week from today I fly to Riga, Latvia. I'll be splitting my time between Riga and Vilnius, which is in Lithuania. My grandfather had some memories of the Old Country -- Lithuania -- so I've always wanted to visit. He was from Taurage, but I'm not going there. It's off the beaten trail -- and there is nothing left of the Jewish shtetl. There is little enough in Vilnius, but at least there is something. 

Riga and Vilnius are incredibly gorgeous, so I'm excited about seeing them and drawing them! I am going alone so I can geek out on art and history without worrying about inconveniencing anyone else.

14 comments:

  1. Have a fantastic trip! (I was one in the loved camp for A Gentleman from Moscow... sorry!)

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  2. I totally agree with your assessment of A Gentleman in Moscow. I hated it. I am a retired English teacher who reads a lot, but I can't understand the appeal of this book.

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  3. Have a wonderful trip! It sounds very exciting. I could not get into the book The Friend. I am currently listening to Where the Crawdad's Sing - I love the way the author describes that part of the country but the story is a little slow.

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  4. Have a wonderful trip. Safe travels.

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  5. Have a wonderful trip! You'll have a wonderful time. (I adored both Gentleman in Moscow AND The Friend. Oh, well. . . it's a good thing, actually. Taste in books is as varied as people -- and there is room for all!) XO

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  6. Nothing like a summer trip! We look forward to seeing your artwork!

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  7. How exciting!! I have had a pen pal in Riga for over 25 years. He is a teacher and for the most part paints a very bleak picture of life in post soviet Latvia. His postcards show a very beautiful city though.

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  8. Oh gosh - sounds like a wonderful trip - enjoy!! And, I'll be looking forward to seeing some of your sketches!

    I loved a Gentleman in Moscow and Crawdads to me was boring. I read it, but it wasn't great. As Kym says, we all have different tastes and there is plenty of room for everyone. What a boring place it would be if we were all the same!

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  9. What an exciting trip!!! I hope you'll share some of your travel stories and scenery. I've been wanting to visit Austria and southern Germany where some of my ancestors lived.

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  10. Have a fabulous and safe trip. Now I know why I'm having trouble getting into A Gentleman....; it's this month's book club book so I gotta keep a-slogging. I read the Crawdad one, too, and think it's a sad story.

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  11. Have a grand trip. Hannah Arendt spoke at my college graduation...many moons ago!

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  12. Have a super fun and super safe trip!!!

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  13. Your trip sounds amazing. I hope you have an incredible time.

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