Tuesday 30 September 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that were hard to read

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I haven't written one of these posts for a while, but this week's topic got me thinking. Not all of the titles listed below were books I hated - although some were - others were ultimately rewarding but hard work. In no particular order:

 1. Horns - Joe Hill. The main character wakes up one morning with horns on his head, and the ability to hear people's deepest, darkest secrets. And most of these are horrific. It is exhausting spending time with seemingly decent people only to find they are so foul underneath.

2. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo. Good story, (great music) and it really gives a lot more understanding to the musical adaptation - but could do with a ruthless editor. I'm not entirely sure we needed fifteen pages about the sewage systems of Paris, and that's one of the shorter digressions from the plot.

3. A Clash of Kings - George R. R. Martin. This was the point at which I was sorely tempted to give up on the Song of Ice and Fire series. I grew heartsick with the violence, the sexism, the awful worldviews of the majority of Westeros. I'm glad I stuck with it, but it's heavy-going at times.


4. 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami. Not my first Murakami novel, but the first I read full of his trademark surrealism. It's in three volumes, and is patchy in quality: fascinating world-building, but I was not convinced by the "love story" or the characters.

5. The Children's Book - A. S. Byatt. The only book I put down unfinished this year (so far.) The Children's Book follows a rather bohemian family at the turn of the last century doing... stuff. It was enjoyable enough, the characters were okay, but a hundred or so pages in, I couldn't figure out what the plot was going to be. The book got ruined on my camping trip in August; I still have it, it is still readable, though not in any condition to pass onto anyone else, so no doubt I'll pick it up eventually just to prevent it from feeling unloved. But I'm not in any hurry.

6. The Bitterbynde Trilogy - Cecelia Dart-Thornton. This is a pre-blogging favourite - as I said before, a book being hard work is not necessarily a bad thing. These books are rich in mythology, but also in purple prose - why use one word when a paragraph will do? I haven't reread them in a while. Life is short and there are so many books. But I still hold a fond place in my heart for The Ill-Made Mute, The Lady of the Sorrows and The Battle of Evernight. 

(Actually, just seeing the covers again makes me want to reread this series right now.)

7. Post Office - Charles Bukowski. One of the first books I had to read for my university course, Post Office was short, and I made myself read it in one go, knowing that if I put it down I would not want to pick it up again. I loathed it with a fiery passion, although I believe I was an anomaly in this. I was disgusted by the main character, could not get past certain decisions he made early in the book, and these feelings overshadowed any humour I might have found in the book. You may notice I haven't posted the cover for this one. I won't have that on my blog or my computer.

8. Rilla of Ingleside - L. M. Montgomery. From one extreme to another: Rilla is one of my favourite books, but only to be read when I am feeling emotionally strong. The first time I read it as an adult I sat up all night crying over it, not only a certain beloved character's death, but that the idea that the timeless, innocent world of Anne of Green Gables should be irrevocably changed by the First World War.

9. The Call of Cthulhu  - H. P. Lovecraft. One of the pioneers of a certain kind of horror fiction, but he writes for the most parts by hints and glimpses, and creating a spooky atmosphere. The prose is full of "indescribable horrors" - you're a writer, man, describe it! 

10. Moby-Dick - Herman Melville. Another candidate for "did not finish." I've read about fifteen chapters, and okay, it is not as impossible to read as I'd expected, even with some unexpected humour, but I'm not sure life is long enough to read another 135 or so chapters of a man chasing a whale, even if it does help me understand the references that seem to be popping up in every film and TV show I watch. I know what happens. Man chases whale past all sanity, resulting in his own destruction.


  1. Haven't read any of these but looking at them I would think they'd be challenging or hard or whatever for me too!

    Here's my Tuesday Post

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower :)

  2. I'm desperate to get my hands on a copy of Horns - and I just bought Moby Dick, haha. Guess I just want to know if it's worth the slog. Some people say definitely not, some people say seriously yes, so... guess I need to try it for myself! I've got a couple more of these on my TBR list as well, haha. Oh well. :D

  3. ARGH, don't tell me that! I've decided I am absolutely 100% definitely going to read Moby Dick either this Winter or next Spring, so I need you to tell me how wonderful and amazing it is :) Although it's reassuring that it's not as bad as you expected.

    I was profoundly unbothered (if such a thing is possible) by Cthulu. I don't know what I was expecting but it just seemed like a 'nothing' book. I can barely remember what happens and I think I may have mixed it up with a Wyndham book :s


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