So, my wife and I were discussing my completely indiscriminate reading habits yesterday, and that, coupled with the memory of having watched Happy New Year, Charlie Brown a week or so ago, caused an inkling of a thought to spring from my scattered mind.
Hmm...there's a lot in that first paragraph, so maybe I should break it down a little.
First, my indiscriminate reading habits. Put simply, I will read anything. While I tend to enjoy things like horror, true crime, and mysteries more than other genres, I have also been known to read history books, literary fiction, children's books, teen fiction, Christian living books, Westerns, comic strip collections, books about donkeys – you name it! And, surprisingly enough, I enjoy almost all of them. Every now and then, I will start reading something that I simply can't get into, and will ultimately abandon without finishing it. But that's rare.
Secondly, the Happy New Year, Charlie Brown special that I watched. The plot is basically that Charlie Brown has been assigned the monumental task of reading War And Peace, a 1,000-plus page mega-novel, over the Christmas holidays and must give a book report on it upon returning to school. Charlie Brown, not unlike myself, is a slow reader, and he struggles with this densely written tome (a great word to describe massive novels like this one, by the way). Charlie sees his friends enjoying their Christmas break, attending a New Year's Eve party, and etc. while he sits on the sidelines reading his book.
[Aside: I've never figured out why Charlie Brown is the only one of all his friends – several of whom attend the same school he does – who has to read this book over the holidays. Maybe the clarinet-speaking teacher just hates Charlie Brown. Or maybe they've all been assigned the book, and none of them cares enough to actually complete the assignment (being the husband of a teacher myself, I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case). Or maybe the others all read the Cliff's Notes version and have already prepared their book reports. But I digress...]
Anyway, putting two and two together has got me thinking that maybe I should attempt – again – to read War And Peace myself. Why? Here are a few reasons (Disclaimer: I didn't say they were good reasons):
1) To be able to say that I read it. Sort of an avid reader's Purple Heart, if you will.
2) To finish what I started over 20 years ago. I first attempted to read this behemoth of a book when I was 12 years old. I got about 100 pages into it and gave up. I didn't half understand it anyway, and I had better things to do. Hey, I was 12! (Incidentally, this wasn't the only stupid monumental task I attempted during that time period. I also tried to read the dictionary from cover to cover, but I only got through the B's. I won't be restarting that one!)
3) I've always wanted to read something by Tolstoy. Yes, I am quite aware that Tolstoy wrote other, much shorter works, including a few novellas. There are lots easier Tolstoy works that I could start with that wouldn't cause me as much grief as this one is likely to, but...
4) I like a challenge. 'Nuff said.
So, here are the ground rules, and I'm telling you, so I can hold myself accountable. I can read the book from a physical copy (which I'll have to go out and buy, or rent from the library), or on the computer, or on my Kindle (public domain books are free – wahoo!), but I can't cheat and listen to the audiobook version of it. Not only will it be harder to quantify my page count (which I intend to update here as often as I read it), but it will also go much too quickly to be considered a real challenge.
Can I do it? I have no idea. But I'm game to try it.
Hey, I'll read anything, right? Here goes nothing!