I love reading post apocalyptic fiction. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who's reading this, but I figured it needed to be said because I haven't been reading much of it lately.
See, when you start writing you also need to start reading; and a lot of the time that means reading books you need to read as opposed to reading books you want to read. I'd love to just sit back and work my way through the great, and not so great, post apocalyptic tales - but that wouldn't give me a very broad view of things. Sure, I'd get a pretty comprehensive understanding of the post apocalyptic genre, but I wouldn't be able to bring anything new to it. I'd just be one of those authors that regurgitates the same old tropes used in decades old tales that're no longer relevant in a modern context.
I've read books in the Naturalism and Realism genres, just to study their styles of writing, random essays and texts to understand a topic a bit better, heck - I've even got a book about Shakespeare and Eternal Recurrence, because that's something that I'll need to know about for an upcoming project. These aren't books I'm reading because I want to, they're studies and examples of topics that I need to understand better in order to bring new ideas to my writings.
Which brings me to War and Peace...
Written by Leo Tolstoy and first published in it's entirety in 1869, War and Peace is a weighty tome that you could use to bash someones skull in. Coming in at 1215 pages (at least in my version), the book is a serious slog about the war between Napoleons France and Russia. This is not a book that I would normally read, but I need to do so for few reasons.
- I'm a writer, and as it's considered one of the best books ever written - I have an occupational obligation to read it.
- I make a slight pun about reading it in an upcoming project, so I better have read it before the project is released.
- Bragging rights.
Alternating between the battles between France and Russian and the high society escapades of the Russian elite - it's pretty obvious where the title of the book came from. I definitely wouldn't say it's bad writing, but it's not that fantastic either. It's just solid writing all the way through... and there's a lot of it. Which, I guess, for the time was pretty impressive. I'm not sure it should still be holding the award for one of the best books ever written, we've had some great works written in the 148 years since, but history has a way of stubbornly cementing legitimacy.
I'm currently somewhere in the 800's in terms of page count, I only ever read it while I'm at work, and I'll be glad when I'm done with it. As much as I'll be happy to tick it off my writers must-read bucket list, there are a lot of far more suitable books for me to be reading. Something with radiation or zombies, or maybe just some kind of virus that turns people inside out, I don't know.
I'm not even finished it yet and already I can tell that I wouldn't recommend this book to just anyone to read. If you want to appreciate the craftsmanship of it's writing, then go for it, but if you're looking for a good story that won't take you months to read, then go read something else.
I have a pile of books just sitting there, and they're waiting for me to pick one of them up.