Category: Readalong

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume III, Part II: Napoleon Bonaparte Has a Cold

 

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Several of our main characters do important things in this chapter. Pierre joins the war as a spectator, which is apparently a thing you can do. The old prince dies, and Marya tries not to be happy about it. The peasants revolt, and Nikolai gets a chance to help a (rich, single) damsel in distress. Andrei broods, and is badly wounded.

The real star of this section, though, is Napoleon Bonaparte. And he has a cold. Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Part V and Volume III, Part I: Get it, girl

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

I’d vaguely heard of the musical “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, but I’d no idea that it was currently running AND that it is based on just one chapter of War and Peace, my favourite so far, good ol’ Vol. II Part V.

The musical summarizes this chapter better than I ever could:

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Parts I and II: Superfluous Men

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Wait, aren’t all men superfluous?

No, and I won’t tolerate that kind of misandry around here. ACTUALLY, the “Superfluous Man” is a literary trope common in Russian lit of the mid 19th century, and usually means a character who doesn’t quite fit into society, despite having the ways and means to do so.  The name comes from Ivan Turgenev’s The Diary of a Superfluous Man, which was published a good 10+ years before War and Peace and is definitely on my TBR, but the trope goes back as far as Pushkin, who seems to have influenced every major Russian author who came after him.

The Superfluous Man seems to be related to the Byronic Hero, with a little less romance and a lot less crazy… not so much mad, bad, and dangerous to know as slightly annoyed, fairly bad, and extremely eye-roll-inducing… in fact, I’d say the Superfluous Man has more in common with the Charmless Man than Lord Byron.

Couldn’t this song just describe every boring aristocrat in Anna Pavlova’s salon? Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part III: Hélène’s boobs destroy society

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Was I the only one surprised that this wasn’t a “Peace” section, given that Part I was all “Peace”, and part II was all “War”? The rest of the book seems to be mixed in this way. Maybe parts I and II were just Tolstoy easing us in.

Part III was a real mixed bag and I didn’t find a coherent pop culture parallel as I did in Parts I and II. However, I did notice two related themes that came up again and again:

  • the futile pursuit of things you can never really have, or at least, you can’t keep (youth, glory, status, beauty) and,
  • self-sabotage (marrying someone you know you don’t love, rushing into a battle you know you can’t win, everything Nikolai does).

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part I: Welcome to the SP, bitch

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Leading up to this read-along, I tweeted a joke about Andrei and Pierre being like Ryan and Seth of The OC – a brooding tough guy and an awkward man-child, brought together by circumstances and bromance. Like most offhand jokes I make on Twitter, I was not joking at all, I was deadly serious. Welcome to the S(aint) P(etersburg), bitch.

Before you “um, actually” me, I realize that to truly parallel Ryan and Seth, strong, silent Andrei would have to be the SP newbie, trying to understand the elite society into which he’s been elevated, when in fact bumbling Pierre is the fresh meat. So, the roles are a little mixed up. But hear me out. After I finished Part I, I rewatched the pilot episode of The OC and I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Continue reading

War & Peace & Women

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Today’s the day: start reading! I tried to break you in gently by starting my first post off in French… hopefully you all remember your French as a Second Language classes, or got a translation where the French is, you know, translated!

But before we get to the bored socialites, glittering ballrooms, and affected French accents, not to mention the gifs, let’s get serious for un moment.

Those of you new to Reading in Bed might not know that I did a whole year of reading women authors in 2016. And my 2016 summer read-along was forgotten but foundational 18th century novel Cecilia, by Frances Burney. I must admit, it feels almost like a betrayal to go back to a dead white dude this year.

In doing my research (Googling “Was Tolstoy a dick?”) (he was), I found out that War and Peace wouldn’t have made it to our e-readers in 2017 without the help of a few lovely ladies. Let’s give them a shout out as we get ready to dive in. Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Tag

Alright, readers-along!  We’re mere weeks away from go time, and I have some questions. Respond in the comments, or, in your own post or video.

Tags are very popular on Booktube, and I even made a video of my own today:

Here are the questions, and my answers:

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

Nope. I’ve owned it for a few years, never even cracked it.

  1. What edition and translation are you reading?

Vintage Pevear & Volokhonsy translation on paper, Maude translation on Kobo.

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

Before I watched the adaptation: nothing! I think it’s bizarre that W&P doesn’t have an iconic quote or character, like other classics. Or, maybe it does, and I live under a rock.

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

I’m doing a lot more preparation than I usually do. I watched the adaptation a few months ago, to familiarize myself with the characters. Russian classics are notorious for many characters, each of whom have several names. I’m also skimming through Give War and Peace a Chance, which would have been a great name for this read-along, and the diaries of Sophia Tolstoy, to confirm that Leo was indeed a dick.

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

Checking it off the list (you know, that 1,001 Books list I’ve neglected for the past couple years). Reading pleasure – I usually love these big, meaty classics. And if I don’t, I have snarking rights (I insist on reading a book before I make fun of it.) It’s a win-win.

  1. What are you intimidated by?

The Russian name thing, see #4. Also, the Freemasonry stuff, which I assume is to War and Peace as farming is to Anna Karenina – hundreds of pages of booooooring philosophical asides.

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

No!! I wouldn’t even ask, but I’ve seen it come up a few times in discussions. Just no. If you don’t read all the words, you haven’t read the book.

So. You’re all tagged. Let me know where you’re at with W&P, down in the comments, or make your own post or video.

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I challenge you to do this tag!

 

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)?

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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!

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Tell me more!

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Before & After Canada Reads

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Each year around this time, I take a social media break, and in 2017 it’s more extreme than usual: for the month of March, I’m not only staying away from Twitter and Facebook, but also YouTube, Instagram, Goodreads… anything with a “feed.” And this blog. I’m going to pretend the internet stopped evolving after 2006, basically.

I’d be remiss if I took off with out reminding you all about Canada Reads, which is going down March 27-30 on CBC (I am allowing myself to watch broadcast TV on YouTube. I gotta keep up on Workin’ Moms too!) AND letting you know that Write Reads podcast is staging its own version of the national reading debate.

“After Canada Reads” will be released in a special edition Write Reads podcast in late April. It’s sort of a homage to Canada Reads, but also sort of an anti-Canada Reads. If you enjoy the general concept of debating books, but find the topics and criteria for those debates to be somehow both insipid and alarmist (“the book Canada MUST READ RIGHT NOW”) – or if you just have a lingering ick factor due to the ex-host – this maybe be the reading event for you.

Oh, and I’m taking part! Of course.

The theme: The best/most memorable/most inspirational female character in Canadian Literature.

The books:

  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  • Malarky by Anakana Schofield (this one is mine!)
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette (also on the legit Canada Reads)
  • A Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto
  • Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Check out all of the defenders and their book choices here.

So, while you struggle through the official Canada Reads without my insightful commentary about who lays the best smack downs, who has the best lipstick, and who needs to shut the hell up, remember to read along and get ready for After Canada Reads. See you all in April!

2017 Reading Plans: Hello, boys

After numerous self-imposed reading restrictions in 2016, I’m leaving 2017 wide open in terms of what and how many books I read. I plan to reintroduce men into my reading life, after a 2016 of #readwomen. I toyed with the idea of reading only men this year, but would rather have some freedom.

I have some projects in mind, of course. This wouldn’t be a book blog without needless complication of the simple act of reading!

  1. Author of the Year – or, The Complete Works of…: Adam at Memento Mori read all of Cormac McCarthy’s books, in order of publication, in 2016 and he’s doing it again this year with Faulkner. Some other Booktube types are taking the challenge with other authors, like Steinbeck. I don’t want to settle on an author just yet; rather, I’m going to read debut novels and embark on the project when the mood strikes. My shortlist includes:
    • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (debut novella The Leaf Storm)
    • David Adams Richards (debut novel The Coming of Winter)
    • Charles Dickens (The Pickwick Papers)
    • Haruki Murkami (Hear the Wind Sing, #1 in the Trilogy of the Rat)
    • Jean Rhys (The Left Bank)
    • Dostoyevski (Poor Folk)
    • Zadie Smith (White Teeth)
    • Jonathan Franzen (The Twenty-Seventh City).
  2. Franzen in February: Speaking of the Fran Man, I do plan to reprise Franzen in February in some manner, and you can help! Get in touch if you want to write a guest post, particularly if you’ve never read Franzen and want to review one of his books. I would love someone to do The Corrections! Last year my Franzen first-timers were not impressed by either Strong Motion or Freedom.
  3. Canada Reads: The longlist is out, the “theme” is announced. Though I’m not sure “the book Canada needs now” is a theme. At the very least, I will watch, and possibly, do a shadow or parallel Canada Reads with WriteReads – check out their latest podcast for details.
  4. Authors in Edmonton: Emily St. John Mandel and Heather O’Neill: Yep, I’m finally going to read Station Eleven, as it’s the 2017 Macewan Book of the Year. Hype be damned. And O’Neill is giving the 2017 Kreisel Lecture at the University of Alberta, which will force me to read more of her work – I’ve been afraid that nothing can surpass Lullabies for Little Criminals.
  5. War and Peace Summer Readalong: No details just yet, but after completing a thousand page readalong last year, naturally I’m going to go for a twelve hundred pager this year. Watch this space.

One thing I didn’t realize til I wrote this all out is that by reading men again, and focusing on debuts, I’ll end up reading a lot of novels by men in their early-to-mid twenties.

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Ew! The semi-autobiographical musings of a 23 year old!

Wish me luck!

(If this is tl;dr you can check me out on Booktube talking about my reading goals here.)