books you should read!

welcome to the first installment in an unending part series, entitled "books you should read!" i was loaning a book to a friend the other day--i had a specific one in mind but when i went to pull it off my shelf i thought, "oh man but there are so many i would love to give him!" i know that people can't read all the time or as neurotically as me (technically currently reading 12 books at the moment--i'm not saying it's a good thing), or that reading all these books will make everything better or that knowledge is the answer (though a good book will touch much more). still, there are a lot of really great books out there.

you see i am weird and i read 12 books at once. i don't know why entirely. it's funny because i never read hardly at all before college. am i making up for lost time? well i have several bookshelves full now and i wouldn't want anyone else to read every single one of those books, so i figured i would just highlight my favorites for you. i don't claim to be an expert or that i have some special authority because of how well-read i am. i'm not really that well read--just in a couple particular niches.

so, enough explanations and prefaces. prefaces are for books.


i figured if the first book i recommended was 800+ pages then it could only get better right? every other book i ever put on here will be shorter! unless i decide to put up les mis....

so let me present my favorite book of all time:

The Brothers Karamazov

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

the first section is a little hard to get into, especially if you are not used to russian literature (this is one of my niches). but if you work your way through it i promise you it will be more than worth it. you will be rewarded with a mystery story that is so much more than just that. you will discover vivid characters that represent the many facets of the human soul--you can see yourself in many of them and they will really stick with you. you find some of the most interesting and fascinating philosophy about humanity, christianity, and the church. and it's all on a very accessible level.

usually when i do this i will probably include some quotes from the book--but in this novel all the best passages would give away too much of the story, and i hate when that happens. so i won't do that. i strongly recommend the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, as they are the consensus best. even though it is a translation there are still many rich passages of moving language.

ok let me get a little literary on you here. one of dostoevsky's greatest contributions to literature is something literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin called "polyphony," that is, "many voices." dostoevsky was truly the first to write giving each of the character's ideas and viewpoints a true individual representation. therefore there are several sets of philosophies throughout this novel in particular and each one of them is given a fair voice, allowing them to truly conflict within the reader's mind without giving them easy judgments and characterizations on which is right and best. it is probably better described here. i'm not sure i read it that way--i think fyodor had a point to make and wasn't just advocating pluralism, but he also wasn't afraid to fully expand the opposing ideas and even show the contradictions in his own beliefs--dostoevsky was a very ardent christian. and it's interesting to see how dostoevsky is referred to as one of the first existentialists, but he is still very rooted in faith. for christian existentialism though you'll have to check out this guy. as for our buddy fyodor on all that, you will just have to draw your own conclusions when you read it!

and if you're not interested in all that technical/philosophical/literary stuff it is still well worth your time.

this is one of the few books i have read more than once, despite its length. i'm not much of a re-reader, though i would like to be more. i'm fully confident i will read it again sometime--probably when i am much older. but in the meantime i heartily recommend it to you.

this book changed my life. and you can't say that about very many books.


  1. umm i must confess that i brought my copy of the brothers karamavoz with me as a memorial to my brother luke and have fought to read it three times...it currently sits on my night table waiting for me to restart it as it has been too long since i last started it...and now i am energized to start it again! hope you are well...still waiting for the letter to arrive :)

  2. you have my interest peaked now..is it anything like crime and punishment? i wasn't a big fan of that but this story sounds good.

  3. the russians!!
    i like it when you talk about books.
    not that you don't get really excited about other things,
    but your excitement is palpable when you talk like that.

    i think that the whole 12 books at one time thing might help.
    oh and that whole english degree.

  4. I love this idea! I just added it to my reading list. Buuuut no promises that will be happening soon. I ashamedly am still trying to get through The Life You Save May Be Your Own. Dang it.

    p.s. I loved your comment about Valentine's Day. And you should know that the debacle was the walk...not dinner. So rest assured. haha.
    p.p.s. ROAD TRIP!