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Tomes and Tea Leaves

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Kismetology
Jaimie Admans
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History
Nicholas A. Basbanes
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
Anya Von Bremzen
The Mirror Lied: One Woman's 25-Year Struggle with Bulimia, Anorexia, Diet Pill Addiction, Laxative Abuse and Cutting.
Marc A. Zimmer, N.R. Mitgang, Ira M. Sacker
Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet
Stephen Manes
Sisterland
Curtis Sittenfeld
Flora
Gail Godwin
The Old Curiosity Shop
Charles Dickens, Norman Page
The English Eccentrics
Edith Sitwell, Richard Ingrams (Introduction)
Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak, Борис Пастернак Reviewing a classic is always difficult business. Most people are likely familiar with the storyline, if only from the Omar Sharif film. Pasternak tells the story of an elite doctor and his family whose lives are thrown into turmoil by the Russian Revolution. During the revolution Zhivago loses his connections to his family and his wealth. But weaving throughout this undeniably tragic tale is the real focus, Zhivago's blossoming relationship with a young woman, Lara. The two come in and out of contact during the war, due more to the vagaries of circumstance than to careful planning, knowledge, or ability to execute travel plans. What results is a deeply tender and moving relationship formed in the crucible of wartime. Pasternak had a clear political agenda in Zhivago, to show the cruelty and violence of the Bolshevik regime, and to highlight the dangers of a corrupted regime. The suffering and misery of the Russian people are clearly acute, and Pasternak presents a vibrant portrait of life in Russia at war. In many ways this reads like so many Russian classics-- deep moral themes, dense plot structure, and a brilliant recreation of environment. It's difficult to review a work of great literature, but I much enjoyed Zhivago. I got the message, I felt the pathos, and I soaked up the Russian environment. I absorbed every bit of this book that I could.