Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is all about the books we had a hard time getting into.
Thinking back, I’m sure I’ve made a similar list to this one before – something along the lines of ‘Ten Books I Didn’t Finish’ – but I now can’t find it (admittedly, I didn’t look that hard). This time I’m listing ten of the books I found a real chore to read, at least at first. In some cases they improved on further reading, in others I just gave up.
1. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. I am in awe of this book but there’s no escaping the fact that, for me, it required insane powers of concentration, patience and perseverance. [review here]
2. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I had to give a presentation on this book for a university course I was taking on depression-era America. I kind of loved it in the end but spent a lot of time cross referencing the book with the Spark Notes to make sure I was on the right track. It did my head in a bit.
3. Moby Dick by Hermann Melville. Don’t. Even. Get. Me. Started.
4. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I eventually got through this on the third attempt and it was absolutely well worth the effort. I think I just got a bit bogged down in all that stuff about semiotics, the Inquisition and monastic poverty. I tried too hard.
5. The Sot Weed Factor by John Barth. I gave up. I just couldn’t.
6. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’m not knocking this book, it’s ruddy brilliant but it’s definitely a slow burner. It was one of the first Russian novels I read and I found the names – all those Raskolnikovs and Razumikhins – particularly confusing.
7. The Magus by John Fowles. I have no intention of going back to finish this. It was infuriating.
8. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I think I was probably just intimidated by the size of this one. Once I got over that minor obstacle I fell in love with this book.
9. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I think this book is wonderful but it took me a long time to get used to the way Heller writes. He darts around from one story to the next, never telling anything in the right order. It can catch you out if you’re not careful.
10. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I can’t even tell you why I have given up on this book so many times. I just have. And I’m embarrassed by it.