This summer (which I define as being from June 1-August 31) I wanted to read the whole of War and Peace. I spend nearly all of May picking a translation. This is a fraught decision since people have serious opinions on which translations are worth while and which are total crap. I didn’t want to read the whole darn book only to have people cast aspirations my translation.
I ended up choosing the Maude translation which has been newly revised and edited by Amy Mandelker. And, I sprung for the hardback cloth bound version because, well, because it had what appeared to be a regular sized font. Look at how beautiful it is!
Umm, well, that picture doesn’t do it justice! It is cloth bound y’all. It’s soft. Which matters because it has been in my hands a lot this summer.
My plan was to read 15-20 pages a day. Here is a copy of my plan.
I was also reading this book as a buddy-read which I highly recommend. Not only does it help to hash out the people and the plot with someone else – because there are a lot of people to keep track of – but it is just lovely to have someone else to gasp with and complain about the characters. My buddy and I have had the best time chatting about the characters, the swirling drama, and the shocking relevance of many of Tolstoy’s observations.
It is now September 1 and, while I planned a triumphant post about how I read it all in one summer (can you hear the smugness?), I’m not done. More importantly, I’m not upset at all about not being done. Which is a HUGE thing for me, type-A book reader extraordinaire.
I’m actually surprised but how different the actual reading of this book has been from my expectation of reading this book. Digesting it more slowly and enjoying the story wasn’t really a consideration for me when I started reading. I was going to chop it all into little bite-sized pieces and conquer it! I was going to show everyone how easy it was to read a massive book!
But, oh, this book. This book deserves to be read slowly and savored. If I had followed my plan, it would have been like one of those grinding walking tours of famous places – no time to look, or to feel in the moment, just check off the boxes and get a picture for instagram! It would have been a waste.
I am on page 712. Just roughly half way through. And, honestly, while I cannot wait to keep reading, I really don’t want it to be over. It is a wonderful reminder to me that reading is meant to be enjoyed and the fun is the experience of the story, not just the ability to say, “I did it.” I have no specific plans on when I will finish the book but I know one thing, I will be sad when it is over.
Tell me, please. Have you ever thought about reading War and Peace?