Top Ten Difficult Reads

This is an interesting topic. I wasn’t quite sure how I should define “difficult.” There are a lot of reasons a book might be difficult to read. After some debate, I decided to include several different kinds of difficulty here.

adaReadability: There are just some books that are just plain difficult to read, as in difficult to understand and comprehend the words you see with your eyes, what the author wants you to see. I’ve read a few of those over the years.

1. Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov – Actually, I think I’ll include just about all of Nabokov novels. He kinda tries to be difficult on purpose sometimes, I think. This one and Pale Fire were the most difficult for me, hands down.

2. Two Treatices of Government by John Locke – Okay, so this isn’t pleasure reading, but I’ve literally tried to read this particular political/philosophical essay about a dozen times in my life and can’t understand a frickin’ word! I had to include it on the list. It’s one read I have yet to conquer.

Between_Mom_and_JoEmotional: Some books just rip you to shreds when you read them. Having your heart and stomach and soul chewed up and spat back out is never easy, no matter how much you love the book afterwards.

3. Between Mom and Jo by Julie Peters – Peters often shreds me into pieces when I read her, but none more than this book. I’ve never ever cried at any book more than I did at this one. I was left hollow and empty afterwards. In a good way.

4. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta – I can’t begin to describe just how angry this book made me, not at it, but at the idea of abstinence education in general (as a replacement for real sex education). I don’t believe I’ve ever been so angry after reading a book as I was with this one.

fingersmithGuilt: Worst thing in the world – reading a book that someone has given you, or recommended to you specifically, or reading a universally beloved book…and really not liking it. These sorts of books are the ones I wish wholeheartedly that I’d never picked up at all! It’s so much more difficult to dislike a book everyone else loves, or that someone really thought that you, personally, would love. 😦

5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – I wanted to like it. I really did…

6. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – Really. Really I tried. I did. I like other books by Sarah Waters…

GerminalPortent: There are some books that you just know, from page one, that nothing’s going to turn out well. You almost don’t want to read it, with how palpable that stress is from the beginning.

7. Germinal by Émile Zola – I nearly stopped reading this before I finished it, despite how good it was. It was that stressful.

8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – This is another one of those books where I was practically in tears only a few pages in, before anything had even happened yet. I could just feel the pain coming…

ruinrisingukDisappointment: This might be the worst. Reading a book that you love love love and then getting to the end only to have something completely break the book.

9. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo – GAH!!!!!!!!!! Why why why??? Maybe it’ll feel better on reread…if I can gather my courage to reread it…

10. Market Day by James Sturm – This was all set to become one of my favorite graphic novels until it…degraded. Ick. I still get a bad taste in my mouth when I think of this one.



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in Book Talk and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Top Ten Difficult Reads

  1. Once in a while I’ll run into a book wherein the author is TRYING to be difficult. Those read as nearly desperate attempts to use fancy pants language 😉 This is a great list!


    • Amanda says:

      Nabokov is probably the ONLY author I’ll put up with who is difficult on purpose. With him, he doesn’t need to TRY to use fancy language. It’s just the way he thinks. The guy was so much smarter than I’ll ever be and I adore him even when he drives me crazy. 😀


  2. Karen K. says:

    The Sound and the Fury gets my vote, could not get through one chapter. I just can’t deal with stream-of-consciousness and changing narrators. As I Lay Dying wasn’t too bad once I got the hang of the changing POVs, but I’ve had enough Faulkner for a long time.


    • Amanda says:

      I read As I Lay Dying years before The Sound and the Fury, so I pushed through all of the latter. I ended up enjoying it, but yes, it was difficult. AILD was a much easier book, even though it wasn’t terribly easy either. I don’t mind stream-of-consciousness so much, though, I admit. Like, I love Mrs. Dalloway.


  3. Jeanne says:

    Some ideas are difficult, so their articulation in language has to be difficult. I like authors who try to live up to the full complications of their characters and plot, kind of like how sometimes when you’re writing you have to look up a word, rather than just substitute a simpler word. I thought The Sound and the Fury was like that. Also Infinite Jest and (my perennial favorite) The Gone-Away World.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.