If you have a spare decade and enjoy reading tomes rather than books, then Leo Tolstoy is the man for you. The Russian writer is one of the most famous novelists in the world of literature and even if you haven’t read it, it’s likely you’ve heard of his masterpiece, War and Peace.
After a failed stint at university and then a failed stint at being a farmer, Tolstoy decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and join the army, which meant he wound up fighting in the Crimean War. Throughout all of this, Tolstoy wrote almost constantly. He kept journals in his youth then wrote fiction while at war. Then, throughout the 1860s, Tolstoy set about writing War and Peace, which was published in volumes from 1863 and 1869. Of course, the success demanded a strong follow-up and that he did with Anna Karenina.
In the 1870s, Tolstoy went through a bit of an internal struggle, fighting with his faith and depression. His writings after this became centred on nonviolent resistance and more moral ideas. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times (but didn’t win) and his writings had a huge impact on many great thinkers including Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.