Today is the birthday of the great Russian novelist Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881). If Dostoevsky’s big books have been on your “classics-to-read” back burner for awhile, make today the day you finally pick one up.
Though I started reading Dostoevsky with Crime and Punishment, you might prefer reading The Idiot or Notes from Underground first. Or, maybe you’ll want to start with the big one, The Brothers Karamazov, right off the bat; I’d be willing to bet it lasts you through the winter (or several years, if you’re me).
Once you’ve gotten that far, you might want to try an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s work next, such as the graphic novel The Grand Inquisitor. Or, perhaps you’ll want to take your reading in a more scholarly direction. In that case, a new biography called Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time looks promising, and Harold Bloom’s various critical interpretations are always winners. And, if you really want to get serious, you can visit our reference department and skim through a copy of The Dostoevsky Encyclopedia.
By then you should be able to impress your friends with profound discussions of “Dostoevsky and existentialism,” and if their eyes start to glaze over, you can take your newfound knowledge to another level by rubbing elbows with members of the International Dostoevsky Society!
Baby steps, you say? Ok, fine, but don’t squander Dostoevsky’s birthday reading something piddly — at least read one of his short stories or something.