Book Reviews

One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

After reading Midnight in Siberia, I decided to check out a couple of famous books written by Russians. This book is inspired by a real experience of life in a Soviet Gulag.

What I Liked

The book is concise, to the point, and short. It’s almost like a Hemingway’s Hemingway novel. The language is stark, sparse, and tough. It matches the subject matter.

Like most historical novels, it provides a much better window on the actual experience of living in a time than any history book can. For example, large portions of the novel are concerned less with the bureaucracy, crimes, politics, and background and more with…getting an extra 200 calories worth of bread.

What I Did Not Like

The book may be concise, but it is heavy and dense. A lot happens in every sentence that really slowed down my reading pace. It’s not a light, breezy read.

I figured that I was in for a depressing read, but wow, is the book just awful. It’s one of those Brussel Sprouts kind of books – I guess I’m glad I read it…but also not? And I doubt that I’ll be recommending it to just anyone.


Never underestimate the powers of systems and what it will drive individuals to do.

The book was an extreme reminder of this quote that’s like “a healthy man wants a thousand things; a sick man wants only one” – it’s hard to imagine just how small anyone’s world can become when you don’t have enough calories or warmth.

By Nate

I'm Nate Shivar - I live in Atlanta and love exploring the city, outdoors, books & Internet. Read about me, my Now page, or my work.

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