Posted by: nedpelger | August 22, 2008

I’m Reading the Russians

“I’m reading the Russians,” he said, “in that dark voice people always use when they are reading the Russians.” So goes a line from one of Richard Brautigan‘s novels that I read as a young man. Being a weirdo, I wanted to know who these Russians were and why they gave people a dark voice. So I read some Dostoyevsky, some Tolstoy and a bit of Checkov. I came to really appreciate Russian culture, their beautiful buildings and their tough-minded approach to life. The photos below show some of the cool buildings they constructed in the 1700s and early 1800s (and give a sense of the times).

If those photos captivate you a bit, I encourage you to read the Russians. I’ve got a few of Tolstoy’s short stories that you can download here for free which I think you’ll enjoy. Just download a free copy of Joyful Living and you’ll find the Tolstoy stories:

  • That Whereby Men Live, p. 119
  • How Much Land Does a Man Require? p. 177
  • Where Love is, There God is Also, p. 219

My life has been forever changed by reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (helped me decide to ask Debby to marry me) and Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (made me understand that staying married was going to be difficult for me). I hope you try one of the Tolstoy stories above, or any great literature for that matter, and see what it does to you.

How does this affect your work as a Construction Supervisor? Reading great writing makes you think, improves your empathy and develops your people skills. As you grow as a person, your work side gets drug along.

As an odd aside, Richard Brautigan, mentioned at the start of this post, left the most creative suicide note ever. He apparently was looking out his window at the Pacific Ocean when he put a bullet into his head. He lay there for over a month till his severely decayed body was found. The note he left simply said, “Messy, isn’t it?” Life, and death, tend to be so.



  1. Famous last words from a female TV anchor in Florida:

    “And now, in keeping with Channel 40’s policy of always bringing you the latest in blood and guts, in living color, you’re about to see another first – an attempted suicide.”

    Then she shot herself in the head.

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