I’ve read War and Peace. I don’t say this to brag, although I am proud of the accomplishment. I say it to inspire.
I loved reading this book. It was a good story. There was some amazing character development, taking Pierre from a partying drunk to a soldier to a family friend to a husband.
But it was also the timing. I started War and Peace shortly after Matthew was born. I had just quit my job to become a full-time stay-at-home-mom. It was a big adjustment to go from 8 hours a day of adult interaction to one-sided conversations with a toddler and a baby.
So once a week, on Sunday afternoons, I had “mommy me time”. I would go to a coffee shop for an hour or two, order my favorite drink, and just sit and relax. And I would read.
I didn’t necessarily have too many more conversations, other than telling the barista what I wanted (although pretty soon I didn’t even have to do that, since I became a “regular”). But it was something about being in the midst of other people that filled my social interactions cup.
It took me several months to make it through the book. And it was really difficult at first. Because I was only reading for an hour or two at a time, with a week in between, I was really confused. There were so many different characters. The first chunk of the book introduces all of them, and they all have Russian names, and they’re all from the same area, but only some are related, and keeping track of who was who was hard.
But I pushed through. I wanted to read it. And once I got through to the other end, I discovered that I enjoyed it. I liked the story, yes, but I liked what it represented to my life at the time. I was still trying to figure out how to live my life as a mom, “just” a mom, and this gave me a goal to work on. It gave me time as Katy. Not as mommy. Not as wife. Just me. Doing something I loved, and making progress on something.
And isn’t that true of a lot of the books we read? We remember the stories they tell, but we also remember how they relate to the person we were while we were reading them. Reading the same book years later won’t be the same experience, because you’re not the same person. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes it’s not, but it’s different regardless.
I read War and Peace. And I remember it fondly.