Sunday, July 13, 2008

Travelling Books

This is a look at the very few books I bought for myself in Ukraine. It is really not an English speaking milieu, and I spent a lot less time looking at printed materials than I had anticipated. I was so busy looking at other things, and so tired in the evenings that I didn't read as much as usual, either. Still, I found a few fascinating books: a collection of Taras Shevchenko's poetry (he is the literary god of Ukraine), a guide to Soviet Kiev from the 70's (comparisons are very informative...), my picture book of stories from Ukrainian ballads which I bought the first day I arrived, and The Case of the General's Thumb, a new book by Andrey Kurkov, the It writer in Kyiv, whose Death and the Penguin I recently read. And then some touristy information, including a wonderful English map of the city which I am enjoying poring over. But that's about it. I know I'll be suffering from "I wish I'd bought that" syndrome for a while...

As for books I took with me, I ended up deciding on 5:

The Master and Margarita / Mikhail Bulgakov
I didn't quite finish it; I will be doing that soon, and then sharing my thoughts. This annotated site may help me.

I read this one quickly as it's very light. Left it behind for the next resident of my sister's flat, another English speaking teacher. Also to be reviewed shortly.

The Sister / Poppy Adams
By the time I finished the one above and read most of Bulgakov, as well as many Kyiv Posts and various other papers, I only got to Chapter Two of this very intriguing book. Must finish...

On the plane and on various evenings when I couldn't stay awake long enough to read much, this old favourite comforted me.

Empire of the Stars / Arthur I. Miller
I thought I might need some solid nonfiction. But newspapers did the trick for that; I only read part of the intro to this! It looks fantastic, though. I'll definitely be reading it sometime soon.

And I also loaded 10 books onto my MP3 player, of which I listened to half of Orson Scott Card's Enchanted. I am not a big audio book fan, but it was wonderful for the plane, especially the trip over, which was a redeye and thus had the lights off for half of the flight. I just have to find time to finish the book now that I'm back -- I just might pick up the actual book and read it myself.


  1. Annotated Bulgakov site! Yayy! I'll need that if I ever give Margarita another go.

    I'm hearing about Poppy Adams everywhere, so I'm looking forward to your thoughts on The Sister.

    And last but not least, my friend Susan (the children's lit prof) has been after me to read Enchanted forever! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I've got Death and the Penguin on my reading pile - as we're expecting a visit soon from my son's best friend with his Canadian-Ukrainian wife, I think I'll move it up the heap!

    I've been meaning to re-read the Bulgakov for ages, so thanks for the link, I've bookmarked it.

  3. Andi - isn't a great Bulgakov resource? I thought that "Enchanted" was a good choice for a trip to Ukraine, too. I prefer reading over listening, I've found.

    Geraniumcat - Death & the Penguin is great fun. Weird but entertaining. If you'll be talking to a Ukrainian-Canadian, try reading some Janice Kulyk Keefer! Her "The Green Library" or "The Ladies Lending Library" are both great.


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