Tag Archives: rereads

Peter the Great

One month later . . . I finally finished Peter the Great. This one’s for you, Ash:

Assassins did not frighten Peter, but there were creatures before which he trembled: cockroaches. When he traveled, he never entered a house until he had been assured that no cockroaches were present and his own room had been carefully swept by his own servants. This followed an episode in which Peter, as a guest at dinner in a country house, asked if his hst ever had cockroaches. “Not many,” the host replied, “and to chase them away, I have pinned a living one to the wall.” He pointed to the place where the insect was pinned, still squirming, not far from the Tsar. With a roar, Peter leaped from the table, gave his host a tremedous blow and rushed out of the house.

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Book Club: A History of Love

Sunday night we had our book club, and I finished a book for the first time in a while (still reading about Peter!). Funny how the moment I started writing about reading, my reading seems to have slowed considerably! Between work and personal commitments, time has been tight lately.

The History of Love was a re-read for me—I read it originally a few months before it was published in May 2005 to decide about covering it for work. At the editorial meeting, the point was raised that we had just interviewed Jonathan Safran Foer, so interviewing his wife the very next month seemed a bit strange. I remember agreeing that it was, but saying that if we wanted to feature the best book of the month, we should do it anyway. I had brought the galley home with me to finish because I had wanted to keep reading, and had finished the book in one night. It made me cry.

So I picked it up again with a bit of trepidation. Would it be as good the second time around? Would I cry? Yes, and yes. A History of Love is one of those books you think about long after you’ve finished it, because it has one of those endings that makes you re-evaluate everything that came before. It reminds people who like to read of why they read, of the pull of stories, the power of love and imagination.

a beautiful book

a beautiful book

Even if it didn’t do any of those things, it would stay in your head because of the vivid rhythm of its language, and its honest, complete portrayal of two lonely people who can’t help but keep reaching out to the world despite rebuffs and setbacks. It’s one of the best books I’ve read and highly recommended. Our book club discussion was one of the best we’d had in a long time, even though some people hadn’t finished yet. Reading over this, I realize it’s all visceral gushing and very little calm appraisal but if you can’t gush on your blog, where can you?

Book club also gave me the idea for two more posts, so hopefully there’ll be more frequent updates here.In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read, give this one a try. It’s on Google book search. Read the first chapter and you might find yourself heading to the bookstore.