On my English Teacher, on Leo Tolstoy, and on Reading

 A Letter to a Hindu by Leo Tolstoy

A Letter to a Hindu by Leo Tolstoy from Goodreads

When I was 12, I had an English teacher who was passionate about reading – especially classics. He encouraged us to read classics and Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. 🙂 We were to submit one (maybe two, I forgot) book report(s) every quarter. I would read one Nancy Drew and one Hardy Boys every night.

I never got to submit a book report. Not even one of those.

My teacher, however, never gave me grief about that. He knew I was actually reading the books which was the point of the project and for him, that was enough. He let me get away with it (I think it also helped a lot that he loved my essays, that he knew I can actually write these book reports). He signed my clearance without a fuss and even gave me a very good grade – probably the highest in class – I was his favorite. Well, he was my favorite, too. He was like a grandfather (he was my deceased Mom’s English teacher, too, even mentioned her once in our class) and I admired him a lot. I, therefore, tried reading classics again (I already tried and failed (when I was way younger) but stopped because I didn’t enjoy it).

I remember reading some of Mark Twain’s works as well as George Eliot’s Silas Marner (my mom’s favorite book). I also read The Secret Garden and Heidi. Maybe I’ve read more. I’m pretty sure I did because every book he mentioned in class, I would look up in the library and read. However, I didn’t enjoy them so I stopped. What can I say? I was really more into Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and romance books.

Where Love Is, There God is Also by Leo Tolstoy

Where Love Is, There God is Also by Leo Tolstoy (from Goodreads)

Ten years ago, I tried reading classics again. I tried One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez. I almost chucked the book across the room. I didn’t like it.

This year, I’ve resolved to read a few classics. I figured if I can find some titles that are my taste then maybe I’ll finally be able to appreciate this genre. I browsed a few titles and I figured that maybe I can start with Leo Tolstoy‘s works. He had short works and I thought I can start with those… slowly but surely. LOL. 🙂

I chose Where Love Is, There God Is Also. This is the write up I’ve read in Goodreads:

Written by one of the world’s most famous and beloved storytellers, this attractively packaged book includes three tales: Where Love Is, There God Is Also, The Hermits, and What Men Live By.
Tolstoy is best known for his classic works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

There’s also a synopsis that you can read in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_Love_Is,_God_Is

I’m also going to read: A Letter to a Hindu. Its entry in Goodreads says:

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. [Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6682252-a-letter-to-a-hindu%5D

Read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Letter_to_a_Hindu

About this author:

Leo Tolstoy - photo taken from Goodreads

Leo Tolstoy – photo taken from Goodreads

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой; commonly Leo Tolstoy in Anglophone countries) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction. Many consider Tolstoy to have been one of the world’s greatest novelists. Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the 1870s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker and social reformer.

His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Source:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/128382.Leo_Tolstoy


I know it’s been 22 years since we were advised by my teacher to read classics, and I had no doubt I deserved my grade, but I still thought I should try reading them. 🙂 It’s also my way of remembering my deceased teacher with whom I owe so much. Thank you, Sir Emilio Giray, for everything. For being the best, for being kind, for making me love reading even more. And most of all, for being one of the first people who believed in me. For that, I can’t thank you enough.

For those who are interested in reading Leo Tolstoy’s works, some of his titles are free in Amazon – in Kindle form.

Happy reading! 🙂


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