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War and Peace Newbies Tag

Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is a classic I’ve always been curious about but I’ve never actually endeavored to read it. Fortunately, Laura @ Reading in Bed is hosting a read-a-long for especially for people who have never read this classic novel before. The read-a-long starts today and all of the details can be found on her blog here. Thanks so much to Laura for tagging me on Twitter!!

1. Have you read (or attempted) War and Peace? 

No, but it’s one of those classics that has always been on my TBR list.

2. What edition and translation are you reading?

I know that some people really research different editions of books before they settle on one, but for this read-a-long I didn’t really look into all of that in a lot of depth. I’ll be reading the Barnes & Nobles Classics edition solely because I bought it for a super cheap price. The pages are also wonderfully floppy– I mean, as floppy as a 1156 page brick can be. This edition is a translation to English by Constance Garnett.

3. How much do you know about War and Peace (plot, characters, etc.)?

Absolutely nothing, though from what I gather there’s some fighting parts and non-fighting parts.

4. How are you preparing (watching adaptations, background reading, etc.)?

Erm…. I’m not? I want to go into this read-a-long with as much of an open mind as possible, so I have done literally no preparation. I figure that if I need the help of a movie adaptation or background reading then I’ll just watch or read them as I go along.

5. What do you hope to get out of reading War and Peace?

Ideally, I would love to finish this read-a-long with a love of War and Peace and Russian literature in general. At the very least I hope to gain a better understanding and appreciation for Russian literature.

6. What are you intimidated by?

A few months ago I read The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which is the first and only Russian novel I have read up until this point. From this experience I know that I tend to get confused by the complicated Russian names of characters– I can only imagine how confusing a novel of this length could be!! I’m going to try highlighting the names of different characters in different colors as I read and see if that helps me keep them all straight in my mind.

7. Do you think it’s okay to skip the “war” parts?

It depends what you mean by “okay.” Would I skip the “war” parts? Probably not, because I’d like to experience reading the full novel. However, I think if some people want to skip the “war” parts then they’re perfectly fine doing so (so long as they later recognize that they’ve skipped these parts and haven’t read the full) novel.

Thanks again to Laura for tagging me in this tag and for hosting this read-a-long! I can’t wait to get started!!

Have you ever read War and Peace? Do you have any advice for reading this novel or Russian literature in general? Will you be participating in this read-a-long? Let me know in the comments section below!



23 responses to “War and Peace Newbies Tag”

  1. I read it in college. It wasn’t my favorite. That said, try not to let it intimidate you. Keeping a record of the names is a good idea. There are LOTS of characters.
    I think Crime and Punishment was the most friendly Russian novel I’ve read, if you’re looking to expand your reading in that area.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, thanks for the Crime and Punishment recommendation! “Friendly” Russian novels are always appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m finding the names a lot easier in W&P, compared to The idiot. Everyone in The Idiot had a million nicknames; so far, the characters here seem to go by one or two names as most. Like Pierre is usually just Pierre, sometimes Petya.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far I feel the same way, too! The Idiot was pretty confusing– at a certain point I had to look up a character list online because I kept getting them all mixed up. But hopefully W&P will be a little easier to follow!


  3. I read and enjoyed this one! It’s SO MUCH MORE accessible than Dostoevsky. Honestly, while there are a lot of characters, they don’t all have terribly complicated names. It’s quite an enjoyable novel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so great to hear!! I’m only about 20 pages into W&P so far, but it’s already much easier to follow than The Idiot. I’m looking forward to making more progress in it (hopefully today!).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I tried reading war and peace a few years ago but it was very boring and I skipped the war parts. I do think I was to young to read it however so I would like to try again in a few years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not a huge fan of “war” novels generally, so I’m intrigued to see what I think of that aspect of this novel. I hope you enjoy W&P more the second time around! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Toni-Emma @ Book & Bloom Avatar
    Toni-Emma @ Book & Bloom

    The first time I attempted War and Peace I was a little too young, and way too ambitious. I didn’t make it very far before I put it back on the shelf for ;another day’. Years later I finally picked it up again, and made it through. It’s definitely not my favourite, but I still enjoyed the experience.

    The names are definitely not as confusing as some Russian Novels, but recording them is definitely a good idea 🙂

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed it more the second time you read it! A lot of people have been saying that W&P is easier in terms of names than other Russian novels, which is such a relief to hear 🙂 Thanks so much!


  6. This was really interesting! Like you, I’ve had War and Peace on the back of mind for forever but never ventured to read it.
    It’s massive and unfortunately I haven’t had the time to invest in it, but I hope I get to do it in the future.
    Great tag! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it wasn’t for this read-along, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up so soon. It’s definitely intimidating!!

      Thanks so much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s so exciting that you’re reading War and Peace!!! I loved it so much when I read it last year- which actually took me by surprise (though it shouldn’t have) because I’d always viewed it as this massive endeavour and not as something I’d enjoy. Hehe yes, Russian names can be pretty tricky until you get the hang of them, but I think this one was pretty straightforward if I remember correctly (it may be my imagination, but Dostoevsky always seems harder cos he uses a number of different derivatives a lot). And I *love* the Idiot- what were your thoughts on it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so great to hear that you loved W&P!!! Usually it seems like people are lukewarm about it, so enthusiasm is always reassuring 🙂 I really enjoyed The Idiot, though I wish I hadn’t had to stop in the middle of reading it and pick it back up a while later (darn those exams…). It’s something I can definitely see myself rereading in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that’s good- I’m glad I could reassure you 😊 ahh I get that. It’s a wonderful book- the characters in it are some of my favourites!! And it made me fall in love with Dostoevsky!

        Liked by 1 person

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  9. So I’m one of those people that love War & Peace. I’ve read it three times, in three different translations. The first time I read it I was 22 and just looking to read a “classic” (probably to look “cool” on the bus or something). The 2nd time was a few years later when I heard the Garnett translation was the best. I read that and I fell in love, though, a few years after that, the Pevear and Volohkovsky (I probably butchered their names, sorry) translation came out and had rave reviews. I actually read their translation of Anna Karenina first and fell in love with it and so I knew I’d have to give their W&P a try and I was not disappointed in the least. This has remained my favorite translation and one I will go back to in another few years. There’s just so much there that is brilliant and wonderful and hits at the essence of why I read books. If the Garnett feels Jane Austen-like stuffy to you, try the P&V translation. I think it lighten the reading experience and, from what people say, brings it more inline with how Tolstoy actually writes in Russian.


  10. p.s. When you finish War and Peace, find the Russian-made film War & Peace from like 1960 or thereabouts. It’s like a 12 hour, 3 part movie. I watched it on a cross-Atlantic flight after I finished reading W&P last time. A great example of an adaption of a book to film… and totally impossible to do today!


  11. […] the huge cast of characters! the complicated story!). This summer I’m reading it for a War and Peace Newbie Read-along, which means that I have to keep up with our weekly reading amounts. I definitely won’t be […]


  12. […] War and Peace Newbies Tag […]


  13. […] of all of my actual required reading…). I was motivated to do so when I learned about the War and Peace Newbie Read-A-Long hosted by Laura @ Reading in Bed. It’s so much easier to read such a tome when you know that […]


  14. […] In A Lot of Other Things.” However, I finally decided to read it last summer because Laura @ Reading in Bed was hosting a read-a-long and I couldn’t […]


  15. […] read this alongside a few other bloggers that summer (see my read-along intro post here) and it made the experience a lot more fun. I genuinely didn’t expect to really enjoy this […]


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About ME, Holly

former english major, current twenty-something book lover, allergic to nuts. drop me a line at or on instagram.


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