Essential Reading: March 2013

So the love themed reading month of February is done with. In the realm of fiction, hearts were broken; dreams were shattered; love was lost then found; and everything in between. In the real world, we move on to other books. But first, a rundown of my reading month that was February:

  • Journey into the Past by Stefan Zweig (3/5)
  • Fourteen Love Stories edited by Jose Dalisay Jr. and Angelo R. Lacuesta (4/5)
  • Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda (5/5)
  • This is Water by David Foster Wallace (4/5)
  • Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant (4/5)
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (5/5)

Also, I am currently in the process of finishing My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead so that will be carried over to March. Anyway, my essential reads for March were decided by their geographic origin and not because of their shared genre or subject matter. Ladies and gentlemen, my March essential reading are books written by Russians.


  • Tales of Belkin by Alexander Pushkin – The first work of Pushkin which discusses 19th century Russian life by interweaving five short stories about Russians from every walk of life. Belkin is presumably the scholar who collected these tales for scholarly pursuits. Published anonymously because Pushkin feared the Tsar’s censors.
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – A novel about the Devil visiting Moscow and life in Soviet Russia, it was written between 1928 and 1940 but was not published until 1967 because of the way it depicted Soviet Russia. Earned the ire of the government but also the praise of many critics.
  • The Queue by Vladimir Sorokin – A novel completely written in dialogue and tells the story of a gargantuan and serpentine queue for something that is unknown to those in line. Banned in Russia but was published in other countries such as France and the United States.
  • Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol – I was inspired to buy a copy of this novel when Logan Mounstuart, the protagonist of Any Human Heart, regarded this as one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. It tells the story of Chichikov, a man who intends to con a town.
  • We by Yevgeny Zamyatin – The first work banned by the Goskomizdat, a department in Soviet Russia concerned with censorship. It is considered to be one of the first novels that satirizes a dystopian future by taking it to hyperbolic heights. It inspired such works as Brave New World and 1984.

Aside from the Russians, I also have to read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief because it is the book selection for the month by our book club. Well, with the Russians, The Book Thief, and My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead all clamoring for my attention, I hope that I will all finish them this month. Good luck to me!

8 Responses to “Essential Reading: March 2013”
  1. I almost bought The Queue and Dead Souls at NBS Shang last Christmas, but since I’m collecting too many books, I decided to deprioritize NYRB Classics. (But I’m still going to buy Dead Souls for my classics club.)

    • I bought these two books separately. The Queue was bought because the plot intrigued me and I think it was the first NYRB that I bought. Dead Souls was because of William Boyd and his protagonist in Any Human Heart, Logan. Logan disparaged many writers including Hemingway and Nabokov but he regarded Dead Souls as one of the greatest works of the 19th century. 😀

  2. Monique says:

    Bulgakov! I remember that Aldrin filched the copy that I got for the white elephant swap 2 years ago. Haha. 🙂

  3. petersandico says:

    The Queue! I love that book! Reading it is a very unique experience. There are even a series of pages that are blank!

    • I just finished The Queue today. It was really a new experience for me and I liked it especially how I felt that I was eavesdropping with the conversations of the people in line.:)

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