January + February Book of the Month: Anna Karenina

What better time of the year to read Anna Karenina, possibly one of the most genius books ever written? The fact that it's one of the coldest winters is a definite bonus to get the right mood when you transport yourself to 19th Century Russia.

P.S. And since January Theme of the Month is Secrets...well, what can we say. We have great taste. 

Anna Karenina is a story of love and faith, betrayal and fate, purity and desire. This book will change your life and show you parts of yourself you never knew were there. Leo Tolstoy covers much more than Anna Karenina's passionate and misguided love affair with Aleksei Vronsky. Tolstoy's broad canvas is great enough to include analysis into women's rights, double standard, happy and unhappy marriages, religion, individuality, conformity, wealth, poverty, and parenthood. 

On nearly every one of the more than 800 pages of the novel are small, yet powerful, philosophical interludes of Tolstoy's philosophy of life. These interludes are so compelling and insightful of the human condition that they are still incredibly relevant today. There are few novels in history that have stood the test of time so well. 

TOC Book Club Questions To Consider

1. What were your initial perceptions about Leo Tolstoy as a writer? What were your perceptions about Anna Karenina? Upon reading the novel, were these perceptions false? 

2. "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," can be interpreted in a number of ways. What do you think Tolstoy meant by this? 

3.  It is unpleasant for Anna to read about other people's lives because she "wanted too much to live herself". Why are reading and living placed in opposition to one another? 

4. After Anna and Vronsky consummate their relationship, why does Tolstoy compare Vronsky to a murderer? 

5. In your opinion, how well does Tolstoy, as a male writer, capture the inner life of female characters?

6. Do you think Anna Karenina is the best title for the book? How would you rename the novel? 

7. What role does religion play in the novel? Compare Levin’s spiritual state of mind at the beginning and the end of the novel. 

8. Are there parallels between Levin's newfound happiness and Anna's descent into despair? 

9. What are the different kinds of love that Anna, Vronsky, Levin, Kitty, Stiva, and Dolly seek? How do their desires change throughout the novel?

10. While explaining her affair to Dolly, Anna says, "I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself". Does the novel present these two objectives as compatible or incompatible?

11. Why does Anna kill herself?

12. Is it Anna herself or the society in which she lives that is more responsible for her unhappiness?

13. Why are the consequences of Stiva's adultery so insignificant relative to those Anna faces?

 14. Why does Vronsky go to war as a volunteer after Anna's suicide?

15. Why does Tolstoy end the novel with Levin's musings about the nature of faith and his embrace of morally justifiable actions as the basis for the meaning of life?

As always, DM us, comment on the announcement Instagram post, email us or comment below with your thoughts during your reading and after you're done. We love hearing all you have to say!