Book Review Saturday: War and Peace Check-In

“We don’t love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good we have done them.”

War and Peace is intimidating. It is easily the largest book I have ever tackled weighing in at over 1000 pages. This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time but I’ve never had the courage to start. I stumbled upon a read-along on Instagram and joined the group. I had every intention of keeping up with the weekly readings, joining discussions, aka tackling the world and Tolstoy in one fell swoop. How am I doing so far? Miserably.

To be clear, I am still reading War and Peace. I’m honestly enjoying it. I can see why Tolstoy consistently ranks in the top authors of all time. His descriptions are unmatched in most literary works. The amount of characters can be overwhelming. At the suggestion of another reader I began to keep a list of each character with me as I read and it became easier to keep things straight. I was still feeling defeated and falling behind quickly. The book is so large that it is difficult to hold up while reading in bed, and the post-it notes that marked where I should be seemed to keep staring at me saying “failure, failure, failure.” I don’t like to be defeated. I decided to try a new tactic and downloaded the free Kindle version to try it out. This is the one time I will admit the Kindle version is better than the book. I started flying through the pages. I didn’t have the dreaded post-it notes staring at me and I could stop reading without feeling guilty.

I’ve learned quite a few things while reading this book. It’s okay to fall behind. I am busy. I have a life and it consists of work, graduate school, running a blog, taking care of my house, finding time for me and still seeing my boyfriend in between. There aren’t any more hours in the day just because I need to read. This was honestly the first time I let myself slow down the pace and just enjoy the fact that I’m accomplishing something that most don’t.

Joining a read-along is excellent motivation. Even though I am behind, without joining this read-along I would have given up a long time ago. It’s like a book support group. I would recommend this approach to anyone who needs that extra push to tackle a classic, or enjoys discussing books with others. I would love to host one in the future, but I’m just happy to be a part of something bigger than me. My TBR piles are always growing and it’s nice to know that other people out there enjoy reading as much as I do.

Stay tuned for another War and Peace check-in. Do you have a classic that you’ve been scared to start? Have you ever joined a read-along? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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“We never got away- how should you? Seemed to be written on every headstone.”

Let me start by saying, this is my very first Wharton. I planned on reading “The Age of Innocence” but chose this as a shorter route into her writing. Ethan Frome is a classic that didn’t quite hit a classical note for me. It’s dark but not dark in the gothic-esque way that appeals to me. It’s very short and lacking a lot of depth. Ethan is married out of a sense of duty to a very infuriating woman. In fact, his wife irritates me to no end. If her mouth is open she is complaining, being unkind or just flat out manipulative. It is no shock that he turns to her cousin for solace when she is sent to live on their farm. Ethan and Mattie, who do not even venture to kiss until they are agreeing to commit suicide instead of part ways, make an almost too easy couple for me. It’s not that I expected this outcome all along but it’s just not a wow factor for me. It’s been done. Although, I’m sure in 1911 this subject matter and her writing was a bit ahead of the times. Without spoiling the entire outcome, the ending does provide some justice to the story.