Discussion #5: The Brothers Karamazov

We are almost done! Only one more reading assignment 🙂

One of my favorite things about reading a book that has been around for this long is the huge variety of cover art. I am one of those people that will purchase a book entirely based on the cover art. I have even purchased a book that I already own if the cover was neat! Here are a few of my favorites for Brothers from around the interwebs!

This one is pretty trippy!

This one is pretty trippy!

This one is probably my favorite.

This one is probably my favorite.

Or this one.

Or this one.

This one's a little ominous.

This one’s a little ominous.

Now on to the discussion!

Question 1: What is your opinion about the interrogation of Dmitri by the police about his father’s murder? Why do you think the police decided to find him guilty/non-guilty (don’t want to spoil it:))?

Question 2: What do you think the significance of this second story line (introduced in this last part)? Why do you think Dostoyevsky went back to this plot and introduced so many new characters this late in the book?

Reading assignment: Finish the book


Discussion #4: The Brothers Karamazov

Murder most foul!

Well we are over half way done with The Brothers Karamazov and we finally get to some murder! We also get to some nasty smelly corpses, but that is the joy of Russian literature 🙂 I could not have planned the reading assignment better! We end on a wonderful cliffhanger 🙂

We are almost done! Don't let Judgmental Cat be right about you!

We are almost done! Don’t let Judgmental Cat be right about you!

I’m really enjoying the book so far! It’s a little hard to get through in places, especially when Ivan was telling Alyosha about all of the horrible child abuse incidences. I had to put the book down and walk away in the middle of that diatribe. However, once you keep reading you can find some wonderful gems of philosophy and Russian humor. My favorite line so far comes from Grushenka, “If you know too much, you will get old too soon.”  Have you found any funny/meaningful quotes in your reading?

Also, take a shot! A character referenced a book we already read. Dmitri referenced Hamlet 🙂

Now on to the discussion!

Question 1: What do you think the significance of the “ripe” corpse of Father Zosima?

Question 2: Do you think Mitya actually killed his father?

Reading assignment: Read books 9 and 10.

Discussion #3: The Brothers Karamazov

I think it’s safe to say, that here at The Sick Sad Book club, we are what you would call book nerds. When you’re in school, it’s something that can be used as fodder for the uncreative bullies, but as an adult, it’s something that is admired, at least in my head it is 🙂

I feel like this while reading this book in the break room at work.

I feel like this while reading this book in the break room at work.

As adults, we have the ability to order things we don’t need off of the internet without parents’ permission to flaunt our book obsession. Here are some of my favorite things that I have found for sale on the interwebs.

outofprintclothing.com They have it in men's and women's cuts.

They have it in men’s and women’s cuts.

http://www.zazzle.com/the+brothers+karamazov+mugs This is so becoming my new coffee mug at work!

http://www.zazzle.com/the+brothers+karamazov+mugs This is so becoming my new coffee mug at work!

Now on to the discussion! This week’s reading was chock full of philosophy so I only have one open ended question (sorry for the theology/philosophy flashback!).

Question 1: What are your thoughts on the philosophy/life lessons of Father Zosima?

Reading assignment: Read books 7 and 8.

Discussion #2: The Brothers Karamazov

First off, I would like to apologize on the delay of this discussion. I was on vacation and the internet at the beach house we were staying at was less than reliable. It was kind of nice being forced to unplug 🙂

I know you are jealous! I was as nice as it looks :)

I know you are jealous! It was as nice as it looks 🙂

While reading this book, I have been taking advantage of the public domain audio book (we have a link to it on the left). Obviously, the production quality isn’t the same as ones produced for a publishing company, there is an echo in the mics and you can hear some background noise at times, but they are really good for being a free service. I, for one, love audio books! I think it comes from my love of being read to as a little kid. There is just something so comforting about sitting back and being told a story. So, if you are a little short on time, or just feeling nostalgic, I definitely recommend the audio book link 🙂

Now on to the discussion! Only two questions this time.

Question#1: So, we have met some very interesting women in this story. What do you think of them? What do you think of the role that women are, and will, playing in this story?

Question #2: There is a very odd incident described between Alyosha and an army officer in the last two chapters of this reading. What do you think it means? Why do you think the author chose to include it in the story?

Reading assignment: read books 5 and 6.

Discussion #1: The Brothers Karamazov


So, we have delved into the first part of our first Russian novel. I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a more feared genre of literature. That is, coincidentally, one of the reasons that I love it!!

I think that my favorite aspect of modern Russian literature is the depth of character development. I know that the names can get a little confusing, mainly due to the fact that many of the characters have the same name, but once you get involved in the story it becomes easier.

I found this while looking around the internet and thought it was too good not to share!

I found this while looking around the internet and thought it was too good not to share!

I don’t think that Russian novels are all that difficult. It must be the length that gets people. But it does look pretty badass when you are sitting around reading a huge Russian novel in public 🙂

Now onto this week’s discussion!

Question 1:  I know that we have just started, but what do you think of the brother’s so far? Who do you think will be the protagonist? Is there going to be a villain?

Question 2: If you have read Anna Karenina, you are familiar with Stepan “Stiva” Arkadyevich Oblonsk. I can’t separate him and Fyador Pavlovitch in my mind; I swear they are the same character! Anyway, what are your general thoughts on the father? How do you think that his influence, or lack thereof, will affect his sons?

Question 3: Do you have any early predictions?

Reading assignment: Read books 3-4.

Discussion #5: Moby-Dick

We’re one hundred and ten chapters into this novel, and have yet to see the title character, Moby-Dick himself. There has been a lot of build up, which means these final chapters are going to include one epic whaling battle. Or at least that’s what I’m anticipating. It’s an adventure story, after all, there better be an exciting climax!

Anyway, I was poking around the internet and found that they recently turned this book into an opera, which is a very strange mash up of genres. Apparently the show was running at the Kennedy Center last month, and last fall was performed in San Francisco and had a PBS special. Check out this clip:

I wonder how they interpreted the whale and the gross oil harvesting on stage? I mean, I did see a theater performance of Singing in the Rain once where it literally rained on stage, but hopefully they didn’t go for any weird whaling special effects…

This is our last discussion before finishing the novel. I can’t believe we’re this close to finishing Moby-Dick! I’m pretty excited to add this book to my “read” Goodreads shelf 🙂


Question #1 – Queequeg nearly dies, then pulls through and goes on living aside his coffin. Did you think this is an omen of things to come?

Question #2 – In one scene, the crew finds a leak in the oil casks and needs to shore the boat, but Ahab refuses, saying he is God of the Pequod, and he has decided to go after the whale. He later changes his mind, and lets the crew repair the casks and without risking the loss of their entire haul. How did this scene effect your perception of the captain?

Question #3 – In this section, Captain Ahab finally meets another captain who has seen the white whale recently and is anxious to hunt the creature down. How do you think the final showdown between man and beast will end? Will Ahab get his revenge, or will nature prevail (dun dun dunnn….)?


Assignment: Finish Moby-Dick.


Discussion #4: Moby-Dick

While Moby-Dick may be considered a classic today, according to the critics at the time it was published, and the estimable Quinn Morgandorffer, it is nothing but a children’s adventure story. Whale dissections, cannibalism, offensive stereotypical colloquialisms – all child’s play! What adult would stoop to reading something so immature? So quit reading that silly novel, and instead let’s discuss a REAL American classic, a life-changing story and international best-seller of much better quality:


First printed in 1960, this literary masterpiece won the hearts of the nation with its tale of two young people and their various pets. It introduced the world to such gallant characters as the winking Yink who drinks pink ink and left readers in solemn meditation after posturing such philosophical quips as, “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

JUST KIDDING! Happy April Fools, everyone 🙂

I really tried to keep that going, but couldn’t come up with any good discussion questions for a book I haven’t read since my age was in the single digits. Also, don’t actually stop reading Moby-Dick – at this point, you’re nearly 75% finished with the book that most people never get around to reading! You should be proud of yourself. Only about two hundred pages to go! You can do it! Here are some actual discussion questions for this week’s reading:

Question #1 – This section talks a lot about the harvesting of the blubber and oil from a whale. After learning about the crazy lengths gone to for an energy source at the turn of the previous century, are you more or less concerned with how modern society sources its energy? I.E., do you think we will look back on the things we are doing now and realize we were doing the same harm as when we were slaughtering whales for lamp oil?

Question #2 – In this week’s reading we encountered a variety of whales – the large pod, the cows and their calves feeding underwater, and the extended descriptions of the older, nearly blind whale with terrible eyesight. Melville seems to be creating a lot of sympathy for the whale as a creature. Do you think this will affect how we feel about Moby-Dick when we finally meet him, as opposed to the way Ahab has described him?


Assignment: Read chapters 89-110.