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Haven’t read War and Peace? Now’s the time to join Yiyun Li’s free virtual book club.

Emily Temple

March 17, 2020, 11:11am

If you’re feeling alone and listless, or even if you simply have a few extra hours a week all of a sudden, I’ve got some good news for you. Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, brilliant novelist Yiyun Li will be leading a virtual book club in reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace—a book that many of us have always meant to read, but never quite had the time to tackle. If that’s you, now’s the time!

In partnership with A Public Space, Li will be reading the classic novel and selecting passages to share and discuss on Twitter and Instagram. There will be a weekly newsletter, and much discussion—a great opportunity to read a classic, difficult novel with a community of like-minded people.

In introducing the project, Li writes:

Dear Friends,

In these unsettled times, like many of you I have been looking for substance in my bookcase. One doesn’t need to look far—there sit the books by Tolstoy, “the master-recorder of realities,” as Stefan Zweig describes him.

In these coming weeks and months, when every one of us has to turn ourselves into a master of living through a harsh reality, I wonder if I could invite you to read and discuss War and Peace with me. I have found that the more uncertain life is, the more solidity and structure Tolstoy’s novels provide. In these times, one does want to read an author who is so deeply moved by the world that he could appear unmoved in his writing.

War and Peace is a perfect book to read together for the duration of our necessary isolation. My edition (translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) is about 1,200 pages. It will take us about 30 minutes to read 12-15 pages a day (much less than the time many Americans spend on social media), and we will finish the novel in three months—just in time for summer, and with our spirits restored.

Ever yours,
Yiyun Li

The hashtag they’ll use is #TolstoyTogether. It has a nice ring to it.

[via A Public Space]

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