I tell people that I’m reading War & Peace and sometimes I’m so surprised by the reactions I get. The most common one is “why?” And then there are some that say they’ve wanted to read it but it seems too big, too intimadating…too hard.
First of all to answer the why.
I read Anna Karenina back when it was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. And I discovered I love Tolstoy. I kind of collect Tolstoy quotes. And I really enjoy historical fiction. And a good challenge.
When I turned 35, I made a decision to get back to reading for pleasure. Growing up I was a reader and into my early 2o’s, but then when motherhood and wifehood and life took over I stopped reading for fun. And started reading about being a better mom, better wife, better Christian…better, better, better. Blah. Turning 35 was more of a turning point for me than any other age. It’s when I decided I wanted to be happier and have more joy. My New Year’s resolution right after my birthday was when I decided to get back to reading books just for the joy in them. I wasn’t sure what to read, but I made a decision to try to read some important books or important authors. I’ve never been quite sure what or who deemed them important and I didn’t have a list. I just wanted to read authors or books that I’ve always heard about. I also turned to Oprah’s Book Club for some inspiration. War & Peace is on that undefined list in my head.
Too big, too intimadating, too hard…
Sure it’s big. Sure it has a lot of long Russian names and the list of characters is lengthy. But it’s not hard really.
Think of it as a series all in one book. It’s separated into manageable pieces. Take a part at a time. I’m taking the year to read it. You can find my schedule here. It’s not much different that reading all the books in a series.
And it has it all. History. Epic family drama. Love stories. Social observation. Intrigue. And above all Tolstoy’s beautiful writings and amazing story telling.
I found a good post on Oprah’s site about How to Read War & Peace. Good tips.
Here are mine:
Don’t worry about all the names. The important ones will make connections as you read. Refer to a list of characters after you are familiar with some of families.
If the war and battle portions are not interesting to you, skip over them. I’ve only read one section of War so far but I found it interesting to know what Prince Andrei and Count Rostov where thinking and feeling the during the battles.
I’m just starting Part 3.