Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov

Through the Cracks is a review series focusing on the ones that got away. These are timeless classics that everyone has read—everyone, that is, except the reviewer, who is finally getting around to reading a book which somehow fell through the cracks and trying to see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.

lolita

For the longest time, I didn’t want to read Lolita. And not for any of the reasons you’d expect. I am pretty hard to rattle, and I never considered a tale about a middle-age man’s sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl something I couldn’t handle. It was something else. Something about isolated snippets from the book I had come across by way of a Graduate school lesson on slacks and stresses in prose, or a writer friend reciting for me one of its many eloquent passages. The writing style always struck me as upper crust, elite, ultra-intelligent, private school educated…in short, the essence of everything that makes me truly insecure. Approaching this book was akin to approaching a middle school lunch table where I knew I wasn’t wanted. Give me tales from the good old working class, or junkies even. I could delve into the reasons for this, but I’ll spare you the details of what I really should be paying a therapist to suffer though. Suffice to say, this is the honest reason it has taken me this long to read Lolita, silly as it may be.

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I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Through the Cracks is a review series focusing on the ones that got away. These are timeless classics that everyone has read—everyone, that is, except the reviewer, who is finally getting around to reading a book which somehow slipped through the cracks and trying to see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.

I RobotI love reading, I love science fiction, and I have a deep appreciation for the “classics.” I don’t just appreciate them theoretically (as some might), but I’ve taken the time to read the vast majority of the books on any “classics” list and I’ve read most of the famous science fiction, old and new, from most niche lists made by avid sci-fi readers. With some classic sci-fi authors (like Heinlein), I’ve read not just their most famous, but a staggering number of their books. Yet how did it happen that I’ve never read I, Robot by Isaac Asimov until just now? And not just this book, but never before anything by Asimov?

Funny enough, I’ve always had it in my mind that Asimov was boring. Yes, many people say that regarding a large number of general literature classics which I’ve later found to be thrilling and deeply enriching, so why would I be worried that a classic sci-fi book about robots would be boring?
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War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

war_and_peace.largeWAR AND PEACE was one of those books I had wanted to read for bragging rights more than anything else. I think most people will agree that committing to, and getting through this massive tome (around 1500 pages in most versions) is an impressive accomplishment in itself. However, about 20% of the way through, I found myself truly enamored, totally drawn into this complex and incredibly well-scripted story. I didn’t expect to find myself sympathizing with, and even relating to(!), characters from a time so distant and a culture so removed from my own. This book is about the human experience, about love, life, death, and everything in between. The struggles and puzzles we face as humans, from the meaning of life to the fragility of relationships, from the existence of God to the search for True Love, are the focus of this epic drama. Continue reading