For some, even bringing up Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace sounds like the beginning of a lecture on why to read the classics. Now that its story of romance amid political turmoil has gotten more exposure as a critically acclaimed BBC series, those dragging their feet have the perfect reason to start reading.
The renewed interest means that War and Peace, at long last, has become a bestseller in Britain. Since the show’s premiere in early January, more than 15,000 copies of the book have been purchased in the UK, 5,000 of those in the last week alone. This flash of sales has propelled it into the Bookseller’s Top 50 list, a major feat for an almost 150-year-old piece of historical fiction.
People familiarizing themselves with good books is always a cause for celebration, although no one can say how many of those people will actually read it. A study by the BBC Store said it is one of the top five works of fiction people are most likely to lie about having read. This could be a testament to the performances giving life to a formidable 1,225 pages, or that the series has simply renewed interest for those who enjoy comparing adaptations to the source. Any way you slice it, the end product is still a good one: people are being encouraged to revisit (or, more likely, visit for the first time) classic literature.
Featured image courtesy of Mitch Jenkins / BBC.