Posted by: deerharas | June 6, 2006


I seriously considered choosing a different edition of Anna Karenina as my “currently reading,” considering that this one so boldly proclaims “OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB.”  However, in all honesty this is the edition that I checked out from the Edmond Public Library, and I must say that nowhere on the cover of my book is Oprah even mentioned. 

In the spirit of honesty, I must admit that my motivations for reading Anna Karenina are anything but scholarly.  The first appeal is the name … Anna Karenininininininina … it’s fun to say.  The second, and by far the more significant appeal is the fact that it has been mentioned numerous times on Gilmore Girls.  Rory encourages Dean to read it because it’s one of her favorite books.   In her valedictorian speech, she talks about living in two worlds, one of books, in which she rode a sad train with Anna Karenina. 

Last summer I started Pride and Prejudice and after a hundred pages or so in, I still wasn’t into it.  I’ve heard that in the case of P&P, it might actually be better to watch the six hour Colin Firth miniseries first.  Who knows.  Anyway, this summer I have chosen Anna Karenina as my classic literature summer reading, and much unlike P&P, at 60 pages in, I am totally hooked. 

A novice reader, I have yet to read any Tolstoy.  I thought it would be difficult … a struggle to get through.  I haven’t found it so, but have rather been completely drawn in by his description of characters.  He writes people so well; you really think their thoughts and feel their emotions.  He puts words to your own thoughts that were never quite solidified.  And this all from 60 pages … I can’t imagine what I’ll think come page 817.

Anyway, I’m sure that my reading will spark a few Xanga entries.  In fact, I had intended this post simply to be a few thoughts on a particular quote, but I have obviously digressed.  Now back on track, here’s the quote, my thoughts, and a solicitation for your thoughts:

In describing one of the main characters, a man named Levin, Tolstoy writes, “He had heard that women often love unattractive, simple people, but he did not believe it, because he judged by himself, and he could only love beautiful, mysterious and special women.” 

Whoa … the honesty.  I think I might have said out loud, “That is so true!”  Now I’m making some sweeping generalizations, but it seems to me that women are much more likely to love men for who they are, sometimes in spite of their appearance, than men with women.  Think about it … how often do you see a very attractive woman with a not so attractive man?  It’s decently common.  But how often do you see an incredibly attractive man with an unattractive woman?  Hmm … I’ve maybe seen that twice in my life.  Some friends of mine have a game they play called “Who Wins?”  You look at a couple and try to figure out who is getting the better deal, totally based on appearance.  If the girl is more attractive, the guy wins, and if the guy is more attractive, the girl wins.  From what I hear, the guy almost always wins … and I believe it.

A few years ago, while going to pick up my brother from day care, my mom and I were listening to a radio broadcast of Chuck Swindoll speaking about marriage and relationships.  On a sidenote, he said that he had thought of entitling the sermon series “Peter, Paul and Marriage” which I thought was super clever.  Anyway, he mentioned what have been described as the differing needs of men and women, taken from the popular book “His Needs, Her Needs.”  I remember hearing the lists, and at the time, I was a little disturbed by the men’s side.  According to this book, the top five needs a man has within his marriage are:

  1. Sexual Fulfillment
  2. Recreational Companionship
  3. An Attractive Spouse
  4. Domestic Support
  5. Admiration

Does this sound like a prostitute/buddy/nanny combo to anyone else?  From my perspective, I was like, “Where’s communication?  Where’s connectedness?  Where’s intimacy?”  I mean, I was floored that attractiveness was that high on the list of NEEDS, not wants, and who are we kidding … number three is pretty connected to number one.  Anyway, according to the book, the top five needs of a woman within her marriage are:


  1. Affection
  2. Conversation
  3. Honesty and Openness
  4. Financial Support
  5. Family Commitment

Does anyone else see a major imbalance between the two sets of needs?  Maybe I’m having a hard time getting out of my own female perspective, but it seems to me that according to these lists, any woman will due for a man if she is attractive enough and can cater to his interests.  However, a woman needs a man with a brain, capable of complex thought and emotion. 


So I guess my real question is, how capable are men of seeing beyond the surface?  I take that back … how capable are they of disregarding the surface?  Now I’m not talking about dating or marrying someone whose appearance you find revolting.  But as a woman, I can say that I have been physically attracted to guys after getting to know them who I may not have been physically attracted to from the start.  I am one of the women Levin had heard about who could love “unattractive, simple people,” at least according to the world’s perspective. 


I have no idea who will read this, but if you do, and you have any thought one way or the other, I would be extremely grateful to hear it. 


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