Top Ten Tuesday: Intimidating Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week, we’re admitting our fear of ten intimidating books!

1. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. I have yet to actually read a Russian novel.  This one has been recommended as one of the easiest, but I’m still nervous about it.

2. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov. More Russians!  I know it’s a classic and I ought to get to it, but the content gives me the heebie-jeebies.

3. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. I tried to read this one and it was just too experimental for my tastes.  Everyone else seems to have loved it, though.  I guess this has two intimidating aspects: the book itself, and the wrath of the reading community should I ever admit I didn’t like it.

4. “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. This might be the most bizarre book in existence, with its four or five nesting-doll plots, and it’s gigantic.  I’m kind of interested in attempting to read it, just to see what it’s like.

5. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. Everybody who’s read this swears it’s the best book in the world – but that’s what they said about “The Book Thief,” too, and this one is a lot longer.  I’ll probably read it soon, but I’m afraid of being let down.

6. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. I know a few people who have really enjoyed this, but the premise and the interconnectedness of its plot lines seems like it could get frustrating.  Oh, and it’s fifty thousand pages long.

7. “A Song of Ice & Fire” by George R. R. Martin.  Its multiple POV characters and intertwining plot make these books intimidating right off the bat.  Add a whole lot of sexual violence and Martin’s fondness for killing off main characters, it’s enough for me to not want to read them.  I like my emotional investment to pay off, thank you very much.

8. “Shogun” by James Clavell. This is one of Kevin’s all-time favorites, but it’s so dense that I’m afraid to try it.

9. “Sarum” by Edward Rutherfurd.  This is just one of several of Rutherfurd’s city-based epics, all of which sound interesting, but are also terrifyingly dense.  “London” also interests me.

10. “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clarke.  Another huge book that people swear is incredible.  I’m determined to read it this summer!

What books have you steered clear of, either because of size, content, or popularity?  Are there any you’d consider reading?

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12 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Intimidating Books

  1. Of course, I have read a bunch of those. Lolita is horrifying and one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The Name of the Wind IS an awesome action-adventure novel. Jonathan Strange is FANTASTIC but got really boring at parts. I loved it all the same. House of Leaves is on my to-read list. You have a better tolerance for serious weird than I do (I find that kind of mind boggling, but you made it through Perdido Street Station and I just… couldn’t.). I am working on not avoiding books, myself, but I still haven’t read Anna Karenina or many Russian authors. I tend to avoid the classics: I have been told to read Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood several times, and I’ve even checked it out at the library, and I just can’t motivate myself to give it a go, even though it is short. I’m very prejudiced against classics, even though almost every time I read them, I enjoy them. (***hipster***)

    • I think we just tolerate different kinds of weird, maybe. And part of why I got through Perdido Street Station was just that I wanted to finish it. You know that feeling when you’re more than halfway through a gigantic book, and you’re not really enjoying it, but you’ve already put so much time into it that you feel like you have to finish?

      That, and the sheer scale of the world-building was really impressive.

      Speaking of which! China Mieville is writing a DC series that’s somehow connected to the New 52. I flipped through it and it is exactly as bizarre as you might expect – like Neil Gaiman and Escher on LSD.

  2. Shogun is on my list too. I own it and have the best intentions of reading it – it’s just hasn’t happened in the last 7 years since purchase…

    Lolita is very good, if a bit…icky.

    • Maybe my reading goal for the summer should have been to just read all the books I’ve bought and never read. There aren’t that many anymore – I’ve been gradually working on getting through them – but there are definitely a few that were purchased 5+ years ago. Oops.

  3. Shogun! I haven’t read it, and honestly don’t have much interest in it, but Mike and I DID start watching the miniseries (although lately we’ve taken a break from it)–it’s not nearly as racist as I was expecting based on the plot, so maybe the book isn’t either.

    Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren is definitely one of my major intimidation books. It’s so…big. And it’s supposedly not as obtuse as some of his stuff, but I definitely haven’t expected it to be as straight-up readable as, say, Nova or Trouble on Triton. Someday…

    • I’d heard there was a miniseries! It looks kind of hilariously 80s. It looks like there’s another one in the works for next year, although IMDB doesn’t have many details about it. I hope the book isn’t so dated that it’s not enjoyable. We’ll see!

    • Very true! I’ve heard stories from some church ladies about the Russian/Ukrainian weddings they used to go to – those parties would definitely kill me!

  4. The Russians are great – I love them! Anna K and Lolita are both fantastic books. Pillars of the Earth is really engrossing and didn’t take me all that long to read, maybe 10 days? Sarum seems like it’s similar. I have that one on my TBR shelf too. I say do some sampling and see which ones draw you in and then go from there.

    • I’ve become a really slow reader lately so any big book is guaranteed to take me around two weeks! I’d still really like to try “Sarum,” though.

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