War and Peace Newbies Read-Along

The rumours are true: Reading in Bed’s fourth summer read-along starts July 1, and we’re going to read War and Peace!

I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve done three of these already?” (Yes, go learn everything you ever wanted to know about whales, revolutions, and inheritance law.)

Also, “isn’t there already a War and Peace readalong that started on June 1st?” Well, yes. I’ve been planning this read-along for months. Yamini and Ange’s readalong caught me off guard. I considered packing it in, because they have huge followings, and they’ve both read the book before. What do I have to offer, other than GIFS GALORE (thank you, recent Lifetime adaptation)?

Image result for war and peace gifs

Anna Pavlova is dubious about the whole endeavor

On the other hand, I thought it would be nice to have a little corner of the internet for War and Peace newbs. We can learn about Russian to English translation, the Napoleonic Wars, and Freemasonry together! And so, I give you the War and Peace Newbies Read-Along!

 audrey hepburn vintage gif war and peace 50s cinema GIF

Tell me more!

War and Peace is broken into Volumes, Parts, and Chapters. There are 17 parts in total, and I’ve distributed those so that we’re reading about 125 pages per week. Here’s my proposed posting schedule, with posts going up on Mondays:

  • Soon: The War and Peace Newbie Tag 
  • July 3: Start reading!
  • July 10: Volume I, Part I
  • July 17: Volume I, Part II
  • July 24: Volume I, Part III
  • July 31: Volume II, Parts I and II
  • August 7: Volume II, Parts III and IV
  • August 14: Volume II, Part V and Volume III, Part I
  • August 21: Volume III, Part II
  • August 28: Volume III, Part III
  • September 4: Volume IV, Parts I and II
  • September 11: Volume IV, Parts III and IV
  • September 18: Epilogues I and II
  • Late September: Draw winners, wrap up, etc.

How to choose an edition:
The nice thing about a concurrent read-along hosted by people who’ve actually read the book is that they have a wealth of resources for us newbs to refer to! See below for a list of all the editions and translations, sample translations, and two video discussions of translations.

I’m reading Pevear & Volokhonsky on paper, and Maude on ebook. Because the paper copy weighs a TON, I’ll probably read more from the Maude translation.

Yamini and Ange’s translations and editions (google doc)

Yamini and Ange’s introductory live show (translation discussion comes in around the one hour mark)

Here’s a much shorter video by Amanda Centre, which also gives you a taste for various translations:


I missed the bribery aspect last year, so I’m bringing it back. I’ll choose a random read-alonger to receive a Litographs W&P tshirt, which contains 40,000 words of the text. To win, you have to comment on this post, you have to participate a little bit, (comment, tweet, etc) and you really should finish the book.

Why War and Peace?

  • Once you go over 1K pages for your summer read-along, you can’t go back
  • Excuse to rewetch the mini-series
  • Russia is so hot right now
  • Find out how Tolstoy wrote both the best first line in literature (see: happy families, all the same, etc.) and the worst first line in literature (you’ll see)
  • The hats

Image result for war and peace gifs hatRelated imageImage result for war and peace gifs pierre

Leave a comment below if you’re in! Obviously, if you HAVE read War and Peace before, you can still read with us. Just be gentle. We might not all be up on our Napoleonic Wars trivia.



  1. Kristine

    Loved the Cecilia read along last year so even though I have read the book before I am now tempted to read it all again. I’m sure there were things I missed. If nothing else, I know the gifs will be spectacular. Looking forward to your analysis!

    I am a bit sad I missed the Moby Dick party. It is one book I know I should read but haven’t been able to bring myself to do so.

  2. The Paperback Princess

    I’m sure I’ve told you this but one time I read almost the entire effing book only to find out that my copy was missing like 60 pages. I found that out on page 968. It’s haunted me ever since.

    I really did enjoy the Cecilia party last summer though so I’m going to not think about it and just say yes. I picked up a new copy of the book a couple of years ago, will be nice for it to see the light of day!

    Plus, “Russia is so hot right now.”

  3. Holly

    Okay, you’ve convinced me!! The only Russian lit I’ve read is The Idiot by Dostoevsky but I really enjoyed it, so I’m hoping this is a good sign 🙂

  4. Rainey

    I failed miserably with the Cecilia read. I read War and Peace in my 20s so will enjoy the re-read.

    Just bought the Maude ebook.

    Count me in.

  5. rainey

    I am also do a re-read of the Brothers Karamazov with Rincey at Rincey Reads with Bookriot.com.

    Looks like I will definitely be brushing up on my Russian Lit this summer.

  6. TJ @ MyBookStrings

    “Russia is so hot right now”… you almost had me with that one. Alas, I read the book not too long ago and I don’t have time to squeeze this one into my summer schedule. However, I’ll make sure to follow your progress. Enjoy!

      • TJ @ MyBookStrings

        A coworker and I did a buddy read using a 1942 edition that had almost more footnotes than text. It was a huge book! I loved it, but I was unable to put my thoughts into any kind of coherent review. 🙂

  7. Julie

    Yesssss! I have an old copy that has been patiently waiting to be read. Plus, I just finished Anna Karenina, so I’d might as well continue on my Tolstoy kick.

    • lauratfrey

      Nice! I often go back and forth between audio and ebook/print when reading long classics, but I don’t think I will in this case. Just because I’ll be writing recaps and it’s harder to remember audio.

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  11. travellinpenguin

    OK I am in. I am going to download the audible copy and listen to it. What scares me the most is the Russian pronunciation of names. I have wanted to know this novel for years. I’ll start here.Off to download it.

    • lauratfrey

      Oooh I think you’re the first doing audio. Please let me know what translation and who narrates. At least you’ll know you’re getting the correct pronunciations of the names!

    • Dawn

      I’ll be going back and forth between the audio and the book. When I tried the last time (and failed), I used the first volume from Audible and the Oxford World Classic. While the story pretty much went the same way, the chapter breaks are off. I think it’s the Vintage version I’m going to use this time.

  12. Emma

    After trying, and failing at the page 220 mark (aka the war bits) to read this at the start of the year, I’m in, before I lose my nerve completely.

    • lauratfrey

      Welcome Emma! I’ve just started the first of the war bits (reading ahead) and it’s okay! The titles are confusing, captain, commander, etc, but other than that, I’m keeping up. FOR NOW.

      • Emma

        Thanks for the welcome Laura! Hopefully the readalong will give me that extra push to stick with it, even if I’m sure I’ll get lost amongst all those ranks and titles again. I hope that you continue to keep up – you got this, we’ve all got this… right?

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  14. Bellezza

    I love Russian literature, and Tolstoy’s books especially. I’m glad you stuck with your War and Peace read-along, it is such a worthy read. (And, is it so weird to say how parts of it reminded me of Gone With The Wind? I guess those parts were more to do with the class differences and war descriptions than anything else.)

  15. Sharon

    Yes, I’m in! Loved Anna Karenina. I’ll be reading the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation. (Yes, it’s been on my bedside table for some time now…) Had no idea there were so many screen adaptations!

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  17. Lynsy

    I’ve been wanting to start this book for a few months now, so this is a perfect opportunity. I’m definitely in! I’ve even been waiting to watch the new mini-series because I haven’t read it yet. I’ve slowly been collecting the new Vintage Russian Classics editions, so I’ll be reading the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation.

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  19. Dawn

    Maybe I’m just not reading the schedule right, but should we be finished with volume I part I by July 10, or are we starting it on that day? I’m assuming we should be finished, but I just want to make sure.

  20. Daniel Cordeiro

    I’m in! A friend of mine just mentioned last week he was planing to start reading it, and I have been wanting to read the book for a couple of years now. I am so glad I found this read-along, it’s my first! I have this very nice edition my mother gave me for birthday, with maps, historical facts and what not, translated by Rubens Figueiredo (I’m reading in Portuguese, but I’m looking forward to watch you people debating the English-Russian translation issues)

    • lauratfrey

      Excellent! I’m reading two translations right now and the differences are driving me nuts, particularly the translation of the French dialog, which varies a lot. How am I supposed to know which one is better? Does your edition maintain the French? Or is it all in Portuguese?

      • Daniel Cordeiro

        Yes, mine has French everywhere! I am very much surprised to learn your two editions have different translations for those parts – and that they are translated at all! You mean your editions maintain different parts in French, or that they have different translations for the same parts in French?
        I do know we have different translation traditions. USA and England tend to translate and adapt most of the text. The countries where English is not the first language tend to keep lots of the original. There are some very interesting studies in that regard.
        But even though French and Portuguese belong into the same language branch, French sounds Greek to most of us, believe me.

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  23. Karen

    I have had this copy of a Garnett translation for close to 10 years and had a different copy before that. Hopefully this will encourage me to make it to the end this time. I ❤️ Tolstoy!

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  25. Arya D.

    I’ve been wanting to read war and peace for years but I’ve been to intimated to read it by myself. I’m joining in a little bit late though but I’m so happy to be joing I with all of you great readers

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