I recently read Crime and Punishment as part of my efforts to read every book on Joan Didion’s list of books that are important to her. It took me about six weeks to read the novel, and in that time I also read two Daphne du Maurier novels to remind myself that fun books still exist. Crime and Punishment was not quite what I anticipated. I imagined a long, complicated story involving numerous Russian names and high-minded debates about the true motivation for crime and its consequences. I got the tricky names and the philosophical debates, but the story itself wasn’t all that complicated. The characters weren’t what I expected, either. The main character, the one who does the crime and receives the punishment, is Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, and he’s actually quite weird. I didn’t know how to feel about the story or the characters in it, and when that happens, I tend to focus on the words. The words in Crime and Punishment are also often weird, and sometimes a sentence will border on advice. Suddenly, I realized these gems were begging to be motivational posters.