War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Three

Welcome one, welcome all, to the third of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. I am happy to report that I have officially now read further than I did on my previous attempt to tackle this mammoth of a book – if nothing else, that’s progress, and we can call it a success even if I don’t read a word more. I mean, obviously I’d prefer it if I did read significantly more words and finish the entirety of the book but still…

You may have seen my previous weekly post summarising my week 2 progress, if not please do pop on over to it to see how it went. And for those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 3 went, which covered Part I, Volume III of War and Peace…

  • If you want an added level of difficult to your already difficult read, try reading on a Monday morning train ride into work when you’ve not had any coffee yet, feel like crap because periods, it’s hot and you’re uncomfortable, and then three chattering Scouse women sit down next to you and talk at a volume best described as “loud enough for the entire train to hear them”.
  • It’s Tuesday morning. I opened my book happily on the train – the SAME GROUP of loud women got on again in the carriage I was in. I swear this is a conspiracy so that I can NEVER concentrate on War and Peace. How dare people do such heinous things as talk to each other on public transport, ughhhhh.


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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Two

Welcome one, welcome all, to the second of my weekly progress reports proper for War and Peace. You may have seen my first post summing up how my first week reading Tolstoy’s tome went but, for those unaware, I’m taking part in the War and Peace Newbies Read-along, as hosted by Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I will be doing a short progress wrap-up/my thoughts so far on the book, very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence is what I’m trying to say. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 2 went, which covered Part I, Volume II of War and Peace…

(spoiler alert: I put gifs in this post to try to disguise the lack of content)

  • It’s Monday, it’s the second Monday of Wimbledon, I have a day off and frankly I don’t expect to do much more than sit and watch ridiculously fit people hit tennis balls at each other. And maybe bake a cake. Because my life is just that exciting. War and Peace, you say? What War and Peace? (Spoiler alert: I read none of War and Peace on Monday.)
  • Not entirely sure how I feel about the representation of Denisov’s lisp – it feels like it’s going to turn into cheap comedy??
  • I still don’t really understand what’s going on during the war. It just seems to be a lot of miscommunication or flat-out lack of communication… and people looking stupid because they didn’t set fire to a bridge or something and SO MUCH PETTY BUREAUCRACY and… I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING I’M JUST READING WORDS BUT THE WORDS DON’T MAKE SENSE.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week One

Welcome one, welcome all, to the first of my weekly progress reports proper for War and Peace. You may have seen my first post from last week but this is the real deal, week 1, actual words of War and Peace have been readFor those unaware, I’m taking part in the War and Peace Newbies Read-along, as hosted by Laura from Reading In Bed, and I will be making my way downtown through this chunker of a book over the next couple of months and, this time, I hope I will succeed in making it through to the bitter end (or at least past around page 200 where I gave up last time).

Every week I will be doing a short progress wrap-up/my thoughts so far on the book, very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence is what I’m trying to say. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s begin, with Week 1 which covered Part I, Volume I of War and Peace:

  • I work at a University Press and I buzzed a man into the building for a meeting – he spotted War and Peace on my desk (it casts a very long shadow after all) and said “Oh I approve!”. When I was like “oh thanks yeah I’m trying it again, I failed at page 200 last time, I’m not so great with the war bits because my history knowledge is pretty poor” he responded with “Nah I teach the Russians, it’s fine, just skim it if you need to and go along with it”. So I feel like that was vindication from (presumably) a professor in Russian literature to say I’m allowed to not get what I’m reading but just plow merrily on regardless. Thanks, random professor, I shall!
  • Short chapters – praise the lord for serialisation, guys, this makes getting through War and Peace so much easier. Plus, either the translation I have (the Anthony Briggs one) or the language itself is actually really readable, what a pleasant surprise!
  • Ok so we have a regular rowdy night on the town with the lads (I presume in modern parlance they would refer to themselves as “the lads” or “the boys” tbh). But are they dancing with an actual bear? That’s not a metaphor for anything? An actual bear? (Are you sure it’s not a metaphor?) So is that normal behaviour for drunken Russian aristocrats? I mean, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade here but wtf guys. Hey, let’s all party like the Russians in that case.
  • I already have to keep Googling characters to get a photo of who played them in a TV/film adaptation so I can keep them straight in my own head – please stop having so many extra/pet/formal names everyone! I came up against this problem with Anna Karenina too (another book I attempted and failed at reading), except it’s much worse with War and Peace because there are a bajillion characters. That’s the true actual factual number, I swear.
  • Vassily and the princess (Katishe? idek anymore) keep scheming to cut Pierre out of the Count’s will and to make sure it isn’t known he’s been declared legitimate by the Emperor and they just want the money from Bezukhov’s death and I bloody love it, it’s so catty and her and Anna Mikhaylovna squabbled over the papers they were tried to secrete and it’s practically slapstick at this point. I love how Anna Mikhaylovna can’t keep her nose out of anything, she might be my fave tbh.
  • I also watched the first episode of the BBC adaptation and I really enjoyed it and it undoubtedly influenced what I think of some characters, and confirmed my suspicions on other things.
  • I’m not a fan of the Kuragins, or of Boris, or of Dolokhov, or the Bolkonskys really.
  • I’m confused because I just find Andrey Bolkonsky kind of…. well, petulant. Like oh your life is sooooo hard, poor little rich boy. Idk, maybe it doesn’t help that I’m never very endeared to the dude who plays him in the BBC adaptation (James Norton) but I kind of assumed given that he plays him, that he’ll end up being the hero somehow. Ugh. Either way, I hope he has some character development because I’m mostly finding him unbearable, and not even in the good kind of way.
  • I am really endeared by all of the Rostovs and Pierre, and I still bloody love Anna Mikhaylovna, even more so after watching Rebecca Front just be amazing in the first episode. But let’s see if that continues once we get into the meat of the story, shall we?

And those, dear readers, were my oh so insightful comments about Volume I, Part I of War and Peace. I never said they’d be particularly intelligent so there we go, week 1 is now over, we move onto week 2 and Volume II, Part II of the book – and until next time…

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | It’s Go Time

Since we’re in this for the long haul, I thought I would introduce a weekly feature to my blog in which, every Monday, I will be looking back at how I’ve done in the past week with reading the one, the only, the mammoth that is Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For those unaware, I’m taking part in Laura from Reading In Bed’s summer read-along of the book which runs from the start of July through until mid-September.

Based on her posting schedule (Mondays too) I have come up with my own little schedule of what page number/chapter I should be up to by the end of any given week and (because I’m obsessive) any given day. That’s right, I busted out a spreadsheet, and even put some formatting on it so that it gives me a nice green box if I’m on track or ahead of schedule.

I’ve even accounted for when I’ll be away in the US for a week and calculated how much I’ll have to read once I’m back in order to still make it through to the end. A tad obsessive, you say? You may have a point. But also I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t keep on top of this every single day I will definitely fall behind very quickly – this way I don’t want to break the chain! (I’m a child when it comes to positive reinforcement.)

So this is what the general schedule roughly looks like for reading my edition of War and Peace and it doesn’t sound too horrendous does it?

As I said, I’ll be away in the US for a week towards the end of the readalong so I’m planning to either catch up the pages I missed in the week following or to make sure I’m enough ahead of the curve in these early weeks so that it doesn’t affect my reading progress. And no, needless to say I will not be taking War and Peace with me – it is a proverbial brick and I don’t think carting it about DC will endear me to it any more. 

Still at it stands I’ll be reading, at most, 24 pages per day which is very doable – whether I can keep up with what’s going on in the story itself is another matter entirely (especially when it gets to the “war bits”) so I’m sure I’ll need the support of my fellow readalong participants, Google, and maybe the BBC miniseries to keep me going.

So folks, until next Monday and my first progress report, let’s do this thing.

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TBR | Harry Potter Cosy Reading Night

Greetings witches and wizards, today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! Since that very first opening line “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” the Harry Potter books have gone on to sell over 450 million copies and have been translated into 79 languages. Not only have they spawned a series of blockbuster films and enchanted both readers and viewers of all ages, the series has had an immeasurable impact on an entire generation of fans who grew up with Harry Potter. I’d like to consider myself one of that number.

And it’s because of that that I will be participating in the Harry Potter Cosy Reading Night. For those unaware, to mark the occasion Lauren from Laurenandthebooks over on YouTube will be hosting one of her Cosy Reading Nights especially for all things Harry Potter – you can check out her announcement video here. Taking place on 26th June (today!) between 7pm-10pm BST, it’s a low-key readalong in which you make yourself comfy, get some snacks, and just READ! I very much enjoy Lauren’s Cosy Reading Nights because of how snack-based and low-key they are, so when I heard she was organising a Harry Potter one I was delighted.

This won’t be a very surprising TBR; given that it is a TBR for a Harry Potter related event that leaves a finite number of books I could possibly be reading. But tonight I have decided to go back to where it all began with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The first book has such a strong sense of nostalgia for me (it’s definitely a “cosy” read) and I get something new from it every time I (re)read it. As today is the 20th anniversary of its release it seems downright rude not to join in the Cosy Reading Night with the book that started it all. I’m going to try to make it through the entirety of Philosopher’s Stone – some quick maths (bear with me, it’s not my forte) suggests I’d need to read 223 pages in 3 hours, so that’s 74 pages an hour or just over a page per minute. That’s doable, right? Wish me luck?

Most importantly, though, I’ll be wearing my Harry Potter pyjamas, snuggling down with Philosopher’s Stone and a mug of tea and eating some lovely snacks, enjoying all things Potter for a lovely evening, and maybe popping into the #hpcosyreadingnight hashtag on Twitter. I encourage you to do the same and read along with us! And remember…

Are you joining in the Harry Potter Cosy Reading Night tonight? Have you participated in a Cosy Reading Night before, or a Harry Potter related readalong? Let me know in the comments and let’s chat all things Potter!

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Tag | War and Peace Newbies Tag

Folks, I’m doing something foolish – that’s right, I’m going to try to read War & Peace again. I tried back at the start of the year and failed after 220 pages… basically, I hit the war bit and had no idea what the eff was going on or who any of these people were and, well, that tends to put a girl off reading.

Now, as you may or may not know there’s a War & Peace summer readalong happening in the next few months and I’ve decided it’s the final push to get me to try again. I was enjoying myself when I was reading it bizarrely, but I just lost momentum and got stuck. I’m really hoping that the added moral support of a readalong will help me to push through the confusion and make it to the end this time (or at least to make it to further than I got before).

What has this got to do with Tag Thursday, I hear you ask. That is a very good question. In short: Laura from Reading In Bed has planned War & Peace readalong of her own especially for newbies to the Tolstoy tome – like me! It will be starting in the first week of July running through to mid-September (perfect timing for me) and she’s also created the War and Peace Newbies Tag so all participants can get to know one another. All in all, I think it’s a great idea so I’ll be doing the tag today whilst I’m her pledging my allegiance to the flag readalong itself. So, without any further ado, let’s get on with the tag…

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#readasoiaf | Progress Update

Well, since we’re over halfway through August I thought it was high time to share my progress in the #readasoiaf readalong challenge.

readasoiafprogFor those unaware, I’ve been meaning to read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series for years at this point and, whilst I was at university, the TV show blew up in a huge way and it seemed like I was the only one not watching it. (It’s kind of a running joke between me and one of my ex-housemates that I still haven’t “caught up” yet with the TV show, despite numerous occasions and plenty of time to do so.) Whilst I really want to watch the TV show (and I have a boxset of the first 4 seasons to get me going) I also feel like everyone ever says they will read the series at some point. I was one of those people… until I realised that if I didn’t just commit to the challenge, I would never actually get round to it. So, enter the #readasoiaf readalong, which came at the perfect time for me.

The concept is simple. Read a book a month, until October. It started back in June with Game of Thrones, then came A Clash of Kings in July, and in August we’re reading A Storm of Swords before we’ll move onto A Feast for Crows in September and A Dance with Dragons in October. Continue reading

#readasoiaf | Stating My Intentions

Yep, you guessed it, it’s time for ‘Emma signs up for another read-a-long despite the fact she has no sense of sticking power firm enough to last out the duration’. Otherwise known as: I need to re-read the first couple of A Song of Ice and Fire books before trying to get through the third again (I DNFed A Storm of Swords because *yawn* but deeply regret my prior laziness) so, since a readalong is happening, I might as well join in.

Because, if no one knows you failed to finish a book, you’re only disappointing yourself, but if someone else knows you’re committing to something then it makes it nigh on impossible to disappoint them. Or so I’ve heard. And that’s enough reasoning to make me think I should give the #readasoiaf readalong a go – well that and Kayla, one of the readalong hosts, made a pdf with circles for each chapter which you can colour in as you complete each. You know, to track your progress visually? It’s an excuse for colouring so that’s more than reason enough for me to jump aboard that bandwagon.

For those who are interested, there is a Goodreads group, the progress circle checklist I mentioned, and Lizlovesliterature’s announcement video which is where I first stumbled across the readalong.

File_000Basically, grab your copies of A Song of Ice and Fire and read one book per month starting next month and running until the end of October, like so:

June – A Game of Thrones
July – A Clash of Kings
August – A Storm of Swords
September – A Feast For Crows
October – A Dance With Dragons

The beauty is in it simplicity… I say ‘simplicity’, the books are anything but simple but hey, I like a readalong that’s low-key in its challenges, if not in its expectations of how many pages I’ll end up reading if I finish it.

We’ll see how long I stick with this one for.

Please do comment below if you’re planning on participating with the readalong or might be interested in dipping in and out here and there, maybe to read your favourite book of the series? Or, if you’ve read the series, let me know how you find the reading experience. (Back when I read the first two books last year I found myself pleasantly surprised by how quickly I could get through them, once I got into the storylines. I’m curious to know if this continues throughout the series!) Any more thoughts/comments/queries? Leave ’em below!

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