I first encountered this book in researching the history of chess for some chess articles I was writing. I had heard that chess was originated in ancient India, and that it was first mentioned, and perhaps even had it's origin (although that's very odd for a book or story to start a game, so I think I must have misunderstood) in the story. So that was my particular reason for reading this. As with chess, I quickly became both fascinated and overwhelmed by the level of complexity. There are stories within stories within stories. It is difficult to keep track of who is who and what is happening, although certainly not impossible, because it is not an incoherent story, just very complicated. It is of course abridged. I cannot imagine reading the unabridged version, although many do. It is a sacred Hindu text, so many religious and historical scholars study it in depth. But it can be read from a child's point of view as well, without analyzing everything, but just accepting the stories of the brothers and cousins who fought over a piece of land and all the animals who change back and forth from one form to another, interacting with the characters. In fact, I think that might be the best way to read this. Just let go of understanding any metaphorical implications and enjoy the stories. I also recommend letting go of the goal of understanding the story if you want to enjoy it. Just relax and float down the river with the stories that in some ways remind me of the Just So stories by Rudyard Kipling. I am sure he was greatly influenced by this text.