A couple weeks ago, I conducted a poll on this blog concerning the next Russian novel I would read. The winner, as you’ll recall, was Doctor Zhivago, which won by a landslide. (Not really; I’ve just always wanted to type that.) I started reading the book and am part of the way in, and, shockingly enough, I just don’t like it.
I’m not saying Doctor Zhivago is a bad book. Maybe my Russian isn’t advanced enough for it. Maybe it’s just not the right book for me at this time. Or maybe it truly is badly written and has an undeserved reputation. (This latter point could be true: observe James Joyce’s work, which reads like the drunken ramblings of someone who didn’t know how to write, yet is revered by English teachers and academics everywhere.)
The point is, I have not been enjoying the book. I’ve disliked it so much that I have been avoiding reading in Russian for the past couple of weeks. I believe language learning should, first and foremost, be fun. Learning grammar was fun and reading news articles about Russian politics has always been fun for me. I read a few other Russian classics before and I loved them. I also read some more “popular” literature and enjoyed that even more.
I have decided to stop reading Doctor Zhivago for now. Avoidance of it is detrimental to my Russian studies. Instead, I’m going to read something more modern, maybe one of those science fiction novels about a war between Russia and NATO over Ukraine. Or maybe one of these alternate history books I found out about last night.
A part of me feels bad for being such a let-down about this. I was so excited to conduct the poll and even more excited to announce the results. But this project is just not working out—it’s actually been causing me a bit of anxiety—so for right now, abandoning it is the right thing for me to do.
Now, I’m going to go finish eating my salad—and start searching for a contemporary novel to read. Suggestions are welcome, of course. 🙂