“War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy's magnum opus, "War and Peace", has attained the status of an immortal classic. Despite its lengthy page count dominating most editions (well over a thousand!), it remains one of literature’s greatest works - inspiring countless readers around the world with its sweeping story arc that captures love, war, and inner peace in equal measure.

From its beloved characters to stirring scenes, "War and Peace" is a classic novel that continues to profoundly touch modern readers. From within the pages of Tolstoy's famed masterpiece emerges an enduring reminder: life in all it’s complexity can be appreciated for its sheer beauty despite tumultuous times. 

Tolstoy's characters in "War and Peace" stand out from the crowd - quite literally! While other Russian novelists famously featured unique, larger-than-life personalities, Tolstoy opted to dabble with the mundane and everyday. Even Ivan Turgenev himself critiqued this choice by claiming that all of these protagonists were only "mediocrities". However, it is precisely for this reason why their stories still remain relevant today - because even amidst an age where we see extraordinary people at every corner, there are moments when you look around and can't help but appreciate those who live an ordinary life.

Tolstoy's War and Peace offers a unique take on the traditional Russian literary style by presenting characters who feel familiar and accessible. Natasha Rostov or Pierre Bezukhov may be fictional, but they embody an all too relatable ordinariness that opens up conversations about life’s deeper meaning beneath the surface of everyday experiences – making even ordinary moments extraordinary.

Through the tragedy of Nikolai Rostov's immense gambling debt, comes an unexpected moment of hope. As he contemplates suicide, a sweet melody from his sister Natasha fills the air and gives him pause in what could have been a devastating situation. With one simple song she is able to inspire something deep inside himself that was special - more than anything else--and higher than everything else in this world combined! Tolstoy masterfully uses scenes like these throughout War and Peace to explore how music can evoke beauty even during times of suffering. 

Because the novel is so long, it gives Tolstoy room for unparalleled character development. We, as readers, get to witness the characters as they go through trials and and struggle through life. Some characters go from being readers’ favorites to later being despised, to eventually becoming beloved once again. In a sense, reading through War and Peace allows the reader to grow with the characters through continual observation. There are very few books in the world that produce such a profound transformative effect on the reader as War and Peace. Readers will feel like a different person after completing the novel. I certainly did.