I would like to recommend not just a book, but two authors from the past who write beautifully and whose stories are so compelling they grab you right away — Theodore Dreiser and Sigrid Undset.

Dreiser wrote “An American Tragedy” and “Sister Carrie,” books that look at the 1800s society when people were judged by their moral behavior in a way we cannot even comprehend in today’s do-your-own-thing world.

Undset is a Norwegian author, beautifully translated. Her novels are set in medieval times and illustrate how people had no understanding of science and believed that everything hinged on God and what was perceived as punishment for behaviors.

The three volumes of “Kristin Lavransdatter” show how she tortured herself for her “sins,” beautifully written with descriptions of scenery that make it an even more beautiful story. I so often read today’s novels and reach the end only to say to myself, “Why did I waste my time on that?” I decided to go back to these old novels and they did not disappoint.

Catherine Sjostrand, Andover

 

What are you reading? Send us an e-mail at books@startribune.com.