~~~~~~******~~~Happy Holidays! Hope you have the company you enjoy, and plenty of love!~~~******~~~~~~

I’m doing the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and you should, too! You could always start it next year, who’s to stop you? (Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)

book riot

To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try out.”

Last book of the challenge!

  • Read a biography (not a memoir or autobiography)

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad; M.T. Anderson.


This book is a biography of the composer Shostakovich.

It’s a terribly sad story, full of heart-wrenching sorrow and unimaginable loss. When you speak of dead in the millions, it boggles the mind. But that is what happened to Russia, which first suffered under Stalin’s reign of terror, and then under the German invasion. It focuses specifically on the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, who wrote a symphony for the city he loved so much, which was sent to the USA as part of the war effort to connect the two Allies. His life is incredibly rough, as a person on the edge of ‘acceptable’ with the constant threat of being executed for some trumped up crime, and yet… there’s a sense of endurance and pride, in him and the others who faced the siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg).

Shostakovich does what he needs to survive and create, writing music even as the war rages on, and his seventh symphony brought hope to so many people. Music, the book argues, has a purpose–and was as much a part of the victory as the soldiers and aid. As much as there is fear, there is kindness. People help each other, survive, and turn their experiences into art. Scattered with pictures of art, people, and places, full of references to letters and newspapers, this book offers as complete a picture as is possible from a place where propaganda, misinformation, and threats abounded. You get a sense of the city as a whole, of its history, and a feel for the way people must have felt living through these events. Many were lost, but life, overall, went on, and the city was rebuilt. It stands proudly unbowed by its trials, while keeping a memorial for its dead.

An interesting read for music fans, especially of big orchestral pieces, and anyone interested in history should definitely read this book.

~~~~****And I’m done!****~~~~


About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

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