Friday, November 18, 2011

How Tolstoy changed my life

As a child, there was nothing I liked better than reading.  It wasn't a casual hobby for me.  It was a very very serious activity.  I took my love of books to a very geeky extreme.  I managed to turn reading into an act of rebellion.  

I read books everywhere

In the bath.  Under the bedcovers.  In the car.  

On Mondays a mobile library bus would pull up at the other end of our street.
To say that it was the pinnacle of my week would be an understatement.
I would be waiting on the curb fifteen minutes in advance, so that the millisecond the doors opened (sometimes while the bus was still moving) I would be the first on.

I was so geeky about it, it didn't occur to me that I was a geek.   So I actively promoted it.
For the speech competition at school I gave a speech entitled "My life as a bookworm." 
The crowd went wild over my hilarious anecdote of the time I dropped my book in the bath.  

It wasn't that I was a loner.  I had plenty of friends.  It was just that a lot of my friends lived in books.  Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, the creatures of the Faraway Tree, the Famous Five, the Bobsey Twins, Hal and Roger, the Babysitters Club, the Sweet Valley Twins, the Three Investigators...some of them I can bring to mind faster than my (real-life) childhood friends. 

I simply LOVED books. 
And I still love books.  It's just that now that I'm an adult, I'm less extreme in the way I express that.
I don't have to hide under the covers to stay up late reading anymore. 
And most of my friends exist in the real world these days.
The need for rebellion has faded away.

But I kind of miss that younger, geekier, former self, who so often shunned the real world in favour of the imaginary.

So a few months ago, I decided to catapult myself back into the world of reading by embarking on "the greatest novel of our time": War & Peace.
It is epic.  It took Tolstoy five years to complete.
It is my Mount Everest of the novel world. 

And, I am happy to report, it has changed my life

In the 28 days since I purchased my three volume set of War & Peace, I have read exactly...28 pages.

I have also read four other books in their entirety.

Ever since deciding to read War & Peace, any book other than War & Peace has suddenly taken on an irresistible magnetism.
All of a sudden, reading any book other than War & Peace has not only become extremely fascinating, it has also become a rebellious thing to do.

Thanks to Tolstoy, I have rediscovered the same excitement I felt reading with a torch after lights out.  I'm a rebel!  I'm a reading rebel again!   

So yes, I would highly recommend the works of Mr Tolstoy.
 Reading his books could change your life too.
(And the best thing is, you don't actually have to read them.)


frank wilson mccoll said...

Ha! I believe Tolstoy changed my life too. Somewhere in the midst of WAP, I realised that, just sometimes, it's okay not to finish a book. Revolutionary.

kaybee said...

I totally understand! I too, never finished this epic. The fact that the copy I was reading was an antique edition no bigger than your average smartphone with Bible paper contributed to my dramatic inability to read it. Got about 50 Bible paper pages in and never returned. Don't even feel guilty about it!

Maria said...

The library bus! I'd completely forgotten all about that. Thanks for reminding me :-)