June 17, 2011

I'm Reading Anna Karenina and Remembering the Timeliness of Great Books

I started reading Anna Karenina (see previous post) on Kindle and learned something right off:  there are certain things I want to read on Kindle (or any screen) and things that I most certainly don't.  Call me Old School, call me picky.

This week, I stopped by the Half Price books and got a great copy of Anna Karenina that is the right size and weight.  It's a big book and I don't want one that is cumbersome; I want one that is easy to flip back and forth when I want to go back and re-read something, and I need quality paper that can withstanding my highlights and note taking (yes, I'm one of those).  Usually, college-targeted versions serve me well, and that's what I got this time.  It's an oversized, quality paperback meant for students and I love it.

The eerie thing about reading Anna Karenina right now - and there are some eerie things - include it's opening sentence:

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Wow.  Love it, and it's so topical what with the daily news blast of Casey Anthony's trial, especially since the defense has just begun putting on their case.

The first few chapters delve into a man who has had an affair with the children's governess and now the wife has found out and is packing to leave (though we know she's really not going anywhere).  Suddenly there's a news break about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver - and the news that he's the father of their former maid's son. 

No, I'm not far enough into the book yet for Anna to appear on the scene.  She should be here any minute; Vronsky's just been revealed as Levin's rival for the hand of Kitty.

It's true, I know it already: this is a great read.  Is it the best book ever written?  I don't know that I can agree with that accolade yet ... but I know one thing: one of the keys of great books, in my opinion, is how they span the ages with truths that are as applicable today as the day they were written.  A great writer's wisdom is timeless and rare, I think.

Anna Karenina in the first few chapters is already resonating with the world I'm living in today.  That's a good sign.
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