My favorite genre has always been mysteries. I remember as far back as The Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. When I got my Kindle, I loaded it up with detective stories, thrillers and romantic mysteries. I finally needed a change.
Returning to books that were required reading in high school, I started with Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” The setting is nineteenth century Russia and the story follows a brilliant student who becomes a self-afflicted young man guilty of a premeditated gruesome murder. The reader follows his torment and misguided actions along with the impact on those who care about him.
Beginning this book was like the first time I walked on a treadmill in uphill mode, stretching muscles that had never been stretched, asking myself why I am doing this. I didn’t think I could stick with it but once I did, I became a devotee. The book is intense, dark and addictive as you follow unraveling thoughts enveloped in love, hate and fear. Unlike modern-day literature this form of writing takes you through a journey filled with long, winding passages of soliloquy. Imagine what readers from 1866, the year this book was published, would think of our 140-character society.
There was one line in particular that struck me: “He longed to forget himself altogether, to forget everything, and then to wake up and begin life anew.” I used to believe those longings were unique to me. Maybe if I had appreciated the classics in high school, I would have gained the perspective I needed to guide me through those early years. At the time, I just saw them as old books no longer relevant.
Better late than never, I suppose. Do you read classic literature? Any recommendations? Don’t worry. I won’t ask you for a book report 🙂