War and Peace without thinking of that one Seinfeld episode. Elaine makes a misguided attempt to ingratiate herself with a famous Russian writer (hilariously named Testikov) by telling him what Jerry had jokingly told her earlier: that the original title of War and Peace was War, What Is It Good For? Things don't turn out well for her after that.
After deciding 2011 would be the year I'd finally read War and Peace, it took me eight months to gear myself up to start, but here we are. I finally started it last night. When I wrote about War and Peace as my "bucket list" novel back in March, the advice about how to read the novel poured in fast and furious. Last night, I reviewed all those comments, as well as Ingrid's (of the Blue Bookcase) post offering five tips on how to read the "greatest novel of all time." I took her advice and reviewed the Wikipedia pages on the Napoleonic Wars, specifically on the French invasion of Russia. I read Anna Karenina earlier this year to familiarize myself with Tolstoy's style. I've bookmarked the Wikipedia character page, as well as the one provided in my edition. And I've set a goal to finish the novel by the end of the year, which seems entirely realistic.
Anyway, 20 pages in, I'm having no quarrels with the style at all. It seems to read easily enough, and it includes common phrases like "the straw that broke the camel's back." So, it's very early, but so far so good. The Briggs edition also includes endnotes, maps and an essay by some British wanker named Orlando Figes. It's actually the one you can see me pretending to read in the "About Me" page. (Have you stopped over there to check out my favorite joke, by the way?)
So, all this is a long-winded way of getting to the point. Here at the start, I need your help. If you've read the novel, what tips, tricks or (to use a tired business-speak) best practices have you used to get through the 1,400+ pages? Did you honestly like the novel (or do you just tell people that you did so they'll think you're smart)? Will I be a changed literary man four months from now? I'm looking forward to your input!