Top Ten Tuesday

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish held every Tuesday. Each week revolves round a different theme and people from the book blogsphere pitch in with their lists. 

This weeks theme is the Top Ten books that were hard for me to read. All but one of them are books that I had to read for university, as you can imagine studying an English Literature degree means that I came into contact with some pretty difficult/challenging books!

1. The Perks of being a Wallflower
I really wanted to like this book. I really did. There was so much hype about how great it is that I thought I was guaranteed to enjoy it. But that was not the case. I only got around 80 pages in before I had to give up. I just found it so shallow and somewhat pretentious. I found it so hard to relate to anything that was happening. I couldn't even feel any sort of empathy for Charlie. I don't know why I disliked Perks so much, a part of it may be because there was just SO MUCH teenage angst going on that I felt it lost its authenticity. 

2. Nausea
I studied Sartre as part of my Existentialism and Post-Modernism module and his theories of 'bad faith' and existence were among the first I was introduced to. Nausea is, essentially, a fictionalised account of his theory of existence (something I am not going to try and explain) and it took me a while for my brain to compute what on earth he was talking about. Nausea itself wasn't hard to read, in fact I found it quite accessible in terms of language. It was the theory behind the novel that baffled me until I attended the lecture in which we spoke about Sartre and his theories. 

3. The Sound and the Fury
I absolutely adore this book. Now it might be odd that a book I found hard to read would also be a book I adore but in reality it is only the first section that is hard to read. The Sound and the Fury follows the story of the Compson family and is often heralded as one of the greatest pieces of modernist literature. Faulkner uses several different writing styles in this novel and it is the first one that usually perplexes readers as it is told from the perspective of Benjy, a character with severe learning disabilities. His section is extremely disjointed and jumps back and forth in time without warning. Getting through the Benjy's section is tough but it is essential to the story and readers who persevere will be rewarded. 

4. Hard Times
This book was just so boring. I was surprised I actually managed to read almost half of it. I don't really remember much about the book apart from the emphasis on 'FACTS, FACTS, FACTS!' It just was not my cup of tea at all. I haven't read much Dickens but I loved Oliver Twist so I haven't let Hard Times put me off reading more of his work in the future. 

5. Adam Bede
I do wish 19th Century authors hadn't made such prolific use of colloquial dialogue in their writing, it just puts me off so much. I couldn't understand a lot of what I read of Adam Bede because there was a lot of colloquial dialogue that I couldn't make sense of. It was also such a dense book with far too much description for my liking. I managed to read around half but I missed a lot of the plot due to the dialogue and skipping huge paragraphs of description. 

6. Middlemarch
I had to a presentation on this book. How I managed to do it having only read the first 150 pages I have no idea. I think it is clear that I just do not get on with Eliot's writing style. So much description, so much denseness! I just found it so hard to concentrate whilst reading Middlemarch. 

7. Naked Lunch
Good lord this book. It is just an attack on the senses in every single direction possible. If you are of a squeamish disposition or are easily offended then stay away from this book! I found it hard to read because of the explicit sexual and violent scenes that litter the book. It made my stomach turn in places. I did read all of it and I am glad I did because the discussions that stemmed from the book in the lecture was immensely interesting. We spoke about it as a metaphor for consumerism, which is such an interesting aspect to analyse it from, if you can get through the book in the first place. 

8. Jude the Obscure
This book is just so depressing. I don't really have much more to say other than it makes you so sad as you read all the misfortune that Jude goes through. I found it hard to read because there was no let up in the bad luck the poor character had. 

9. The Crying of Lot 49
I read the whole of this book and attended a lecture on it and I still do not know what on earth it is about. Lot 49 is one of the most perplexing, obscure and bizarre books I have ever come across. If someone asked me to describe the plot or any of the characters I would be at a loss of what to say. Pynchon is either completely nuts or a genius for writing a novel like Lot 49. I applaud anyone who reads it and understands a single word. 

10. Mrs Dalloway
Mrs Dalloway was one of the first modernist novels I read. I found it hard to read because of its stream of consciousness writing style. I hadn't come across this style before and I found the seamless jumps back and forth in time and from character to character confusing. That being said once I had read it through twice and discussed it during a lecture I became a fan of Woolf's writing and plan on reading more of her works in the future. 

What books have you read that you found hard to get through? Let me know in the comments!


Write comments
30 September 2014 at 14:15 delete

Oh man. I felt like I was the only one that felt that way with Perks. I've tried it a few times, but I have never been able to get into it. And when I tell people that (granted, people who loved it) they're super aghast and insist I try again. Maybe one day I will. But until then... I have a bunch of other books on my TBR pile to go through.

Great list!
Chelsea @ Books Turn Brains

Jason C.
30 September 2014 at 14:46 delete

I agree with a lot of your picks here. The Sound and the Fury would be up there for me as well. I actually found Quentin's section to be even more bewildering than Benjy's. All of that stream-of-consciousness was maddening to get through!

I've given up on Crying Lot 49 many times too and decided to go with "V" instead. Bad decision on my part. Pynchon baffles me. Mrs Dalloway is one of my favorite novels though and while it is certainly confusing on a first read, I actually find it to be one of her more accessible works. Glad you warmed up to her writing style. I hope you get around to reading "To the Lighthouse" sometime soon because it's even better. :P

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