You don’t have to read War and Peace to taste a classic

So how many of you who are watching the latest television version of Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace have actually read the book?

Very few I would think, and I’m not about to swan about being superior because I have to own up and admit that I’ve never read it either.

Not that I’m put off by it’s thickness, weight and number of words – I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy many times and a favourite book is This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson which runs to more than 600 pages.

It seems many people haven’t read War and Peace but say they want to.

In a recent survey by YouGov it topped the chart of which 19th century classic novels people would most wish to read if they had the time and patience.

It was followed by Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Moby Dick by Herman Melville and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (all have had theatre and film tie-ins you might have noticed).

I have read Moby Dick and while I admired it I had to put it to one side now and then and to read something lighter (I could make a joke here about reading a book about goldfish or something but I think it would flounder so I won’t).

I’m going to be a little smug now though as I was one of those children who always had my nose in a book and I was a huge fan of classic 19th century literature (precocious moi?) so of the YouGov list of twenty five titles I have read quite a few.

I’m a massive fan of Wilkie Collins and Thomas Hardy though I only discovered the humour of Charles Dickens about ten years ago.

The great thing is that as well as being lucky enough to live near Wigtown, where we can find fabulous second hand copies of all the titles on the wish list, we also have libraries where we can borrow books and if we can’t plough through them we just take them back.

Saturday the 6th of February is National Library Day when what could be better than to stroll to your local library, celebrate the fact that it’s still there and then borrow a classic title to tackle.

Why not make it your late new year’s resolution to read them all!

You can find details of the list here