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July 22, 2010

Review: The Possessed

2010 Finishes: Books

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman
Genre: Literary criticism, memoir
Pages: 296
Raiting: 7.3

I love books about books and reading, so I was excited to read this, even though I haven't actually read all that much Russian literature. And this book certainly made me want to read more Russian books, so that's something. But overall, it was pretty uneven. I prefer my memoirs of reading to have a little more about the reader's life than this one did. Individual parts of this were interesting, but it didn't hold together as a book very well. It reads as though Batuman had half a book about a summer she spent in Uzbekistan, and some essays about Russian literature, and just combined them with a little connective tissue about her experiences in grad school. Each bit was interesting on its own, but somewhat unsatisfying as a whole. But I definitely want to read Tolstoy now!

(Note: There's some really gross [albeit interesting] stuff in the chapter called "The House of Ice." I'd recommend you not read it while eating dinner, as I did.)

Posted by Kat at July 22, 2010 01:00 PM
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