1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky
Well, I did it. I read The Brothers Karamazov. It was over 700 pages, but the type was diminutive and the margins were very conservative, so it seemed even longer. It was intended to be the first part of a trilogy- to which my first thought was "if you can't tell a story in over 700 pages, you need to find another story to tell." But, now that I've finished, I see that the story could have kept going, and I would have kept reading. Dostoevsky died several months after the first installation was published so he was unable to write the remaining 4,000 pages.
The Brothers Karamazov has been on my "to read" list for a while. I've been interested in it ever since I read Crime and Punishment several years ago. The Brothers Karamazov is good, but Crime and Punishment is riveting. So, if this post induces anyone to go pick up a Dostoevsky book, I'd recommend Crime and Punishment. Crime and Punishment, conveniently, is also about 400 pages shorter which may have some bearing on my preference.
The Brothers Karamazov is about- well, I mean, what isn't it about? It's 700 pages long, it's about pretty much everything you could ever think of except vampires- but, at its most basic, I think it can be described as a story about the embodiment of three philosophies- sensualism, atheism/ rationalism, and faith/Christianity- and their consequences as they play out within a family of three brothers and their father. But, obviously, a lot more could be said.
Parts of it were so fantastic. There are a few parts I plan to reread. But, overall, I'd recommend Crime and Punishment over this.
2. Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
On the other hand, I could see someone reading this post actually picking up this little book. It is a great, very short (even greater!) book on child training/discipline. I can't say that a lot of it was new information, but I still found it refreshing. My experience on child rearing is meager, but growing every day. There are plenty of books out there, and perhaps I'm not the best one for making recommendations because I'm still at the front end of parenting. But I found this to be clear, concise and Biblical. There were plenty of practical suggestions.
For example, one thing that I took away: Instead of being surprised and flustered when I see sinful behavior in my children, I should expect it- for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)- and prepare for it. One way to prepare is to clearly establish expectations. I've been making a concerted effort to let John know what I expect of him ahead of time. This worked out beautifully last Friday when we went strawberry picking. Before we went, I discussed at length that we only pick the red strawberries, and that we are not to eat them until we get back home to wash them. This is a very small example, but he did such a great job! He picked nearly 5 pounds of bright red strawberries by himself and didn't take a bite! I felt that I was able to help us both avoid temptations and frustrations simply by anticipating and addressing issues that might come up. Of course there were other issues that I failed to address ahead of time, like the one of him and his friends running towards an oncoming train. One thing at a time!
I'd definitely recommend this book.